It’s back to the Delos Resort in the sequel to the popular sci-fi film Westworld, but sadly this second journey fails to generate the same cinematic thrills and excitement, much less fond memories. The movie’s debut on Blu-ray is similarly lackluster, no thanks to its frequently soft picture quality and slim collection of bonus material.
Distributed By: Shout! Factory
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Run Time: 1 Hr. 47 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Release Date: 03/26/2013
It’s been two years since androids populating the Delos fantasy resort went haywire and killed over 50 of its guests. Looking to recover from the disaster, the company has retooled the entire operation and promises guests can freely visit its medieval, Roman and future-themed environments without any fear for their lives. To get the word out about the new and improved experience (which naturally still includes killing and/or having sex with robots), the resort invites newspaper man Chuck Browning (Peter Fonda) and TV reporter Tracy Ballard (Blythe Danner) to the facility, giving them a chance to see the delights of Delos firsthand, as well as get a glimpse behind the scenes. As the pair embarks on its adventure in Futureworld, things do appear markedly improved, but Browning also has a tip that Delos may be hiding something sinister behind the welcoming demeanor. As the two reporters begin snooping around, they uncover information suggesting things are much worse than just androids getting their wires crossed.
The Production Rating: 2/5
If the producers behind Futureworld wanted the same success as Westworld, the Michael Crichton written-and-directed sci-fi flick that gave Yul Brynner a whole other level of menace, they should have looked to replicate its predecessor’s confidence in storytelling. Instead, the sequel comes off as unsure of itself as it draws on various influences, namely The Manchurian Candidate, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and of course Westworld itself. Though the film does take a more lighthearted approach, the strategy also forges a double-edged sword that minimizes scrutiny of the story and characters, but then makes the film easy to write off as just plain dumb. No offense to TV shows The Six Million Dollar Man or The Bionic Woman, but I couldn’t help thinking the plot would have worked just fine for one of their episodes (or even one of their team-up, made-for-TV movies). At least in the World of Bionics we’d have an epic cyborg vs. android smackdown to look forward to.
Framed at 1.85:1, the 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer features all-around solid black levels, contrast and color depth. Sharpness, however, is another thing, as the first half of the film looks notably soft and indistinct regardless of close up or establishing shot. For whatever reason, things noticeably improve in the movie’s second half, but even then it has more than its fair share of slightly fuzzy images. Flecks of dirt are also sprinkled throughout the film, though the variable sharpness is ultimately the transfer’s greatest offender.
Video Rating: 2.5/5 3D Rating: NA
Dialogue in the English language 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently crisp, detailed, and intelligible. Surround activity is practically non-existent, as is LFE, but it’s a more than serviceable track with a decently wide sound stage.
Audio Rating: 3/5
The bonus material has a particular emphasis on the film's marketing materials.
Special Features Rating: 1.5/5
Trailer (2:49, HD): Presented window-boxed with 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio.
Radio Spots (1:06): Two 30-second commercials presented in 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio.
Still Gallery (:57, HD): Sized for high definition displays, the 11 images consist of concept art, theatrical release posters, and production photographs.
Shout! Factory delivers a middling high definition presentation for Westworld’s similarly lackluster sequel, Futureworld. The special features, made up entirely of archival promotional materials, offers a glimpse at the film’s original marketing campaign, but overall it makes for a rather mediocre release for a hard-to-recommend film.
Overall Rating: 2/5
Reviewed By: Cameron Yee
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