Futureworld (1976/MGM Limited Edition DVD) + Coma/The Carey Treatment/Westworld Soundtrack (FSM/Film Score
Monthly Limited Edition CD Set)
C+ Sound: C+/B Extras: C- Film/Music: B
Fiction based in real science is too rare, especially since the genre became
grounds for space operas and bells & whistles action films as al the
studios look for the next tentpole franchise since Star Wars overly commercialized the industry by accident. However, the best films in the genre are the smart
ones and that includes thrillers that really integrate the futuristic elements
into their scripts. In this, the late
Michael Crichton was very good at combining the two, even getting experimental
in the 1980s before the blockbuster success of Jurassic Park.
he wrote and directed Westworld, a
film MGM did not want and it landed up becoming its #1 box office moneymaker
that year. Still, they were not
interested in doing a sequel, so B-movie company American International
(looking to expand into a major or mini-major) surprised everyone by picking up
sequel rights and the result was a hit in Richard T. Heffron’s Futureworld (1976), as the Delos
Corporation rebuilds its robot-populated amusement park with better technology
so the mass murder caused by the robots gone mad never happens again. Too bad something new and ugly is about to
Fonda and Blythe Danner play competing reporters invited to see how much better
the new Delos is and are there to be shown how
great a vacation place it is. That it is
worth what would be thousands of dollars a day to visit. To be convinced by those running the place
(including Arthur Hill and John Ryan) that nothing can go wrong… this time.
underrated sequel and underrated thriller, it was lost in the Star Wars shuffle, though it and Westworld actually featured some of the
earliest CG animation and imaging before most films did. Unlike today’s shallow digi-fests, that was
incidental to a real-world story and this film gets outright creepy. Very effective, it is as relevant as ever,
holds up very well and rarely hits any false notes. You can see it without seeing Westworld (out in the same DVD, first
issued by MGM/UA in a plastic case, then by Warner in a cardboard snapper), but
seeing Westworld makes this even
more effective. It is the very first
film to ever use an outright computer generated image.
all that, after waiting for MGM to issue Futureworld
on DVD and Blu-ray, they have decided to release it as a Limited Edition DVD from
MGM’s DVD-R program. The film has been
issued for years in a very soft, old 1.33 X 1 transfer overseas, but the best
previous edition was the 12” LaserDisc Orion (then owner of the American
International catalog before MGM bought out both) licensed to Image
Entertainment with a very nice print with great color and few flaws.
nice to see it available on DVD finally and is worth going out of your way
for. Yul Brynner, Stuart Margolin, John
Fujioka, Robert Cornthwaite and Allen Ludden (in a very amusing cameo as a game
show host) also star.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on this new DVD-R is from the exact same
video master. The disadvantage is that
not all the shots look good, you get some aliasing errors and some shots do not
look as good, but the advantage is that the presentation here has digital
clarity (no analog waves) and gets some of the solid look out of the master the
LaserDisc could not, so that’s the trade-off.
Gene Polito (Westworld, Spikes Gang) and the very capable Howard
Schwartz share Director of Photography duties.
While the LaserDisc had a nice PCM 2.0 Mono soundtrack, we get a
somewhat more compressed Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track here that holds back the
film a little, including the sound effects and music score by Fred Karlin (Westworld, Bad Ronald, Spikes Gang). At least the single extra of an Original
Theatrical Trailer is in great shape and sounds good, but this also deserves a
has yet to issue Westworld on
Blu-ray, but the DVD has Dolby 2.0 Stereo sound that was not bad, yet it is no
match for the Limited Edition CD soundtrack set issued by Film Score Monthly
Magazine’s FSM CD soundtrack label. A
collection built around Crichton’s produced works, it also includes Jerry
Goldsmith’s effective score for the 1978 Michael Douglas thriller Coma and the underrated Roy Budd’s
score for The Carey Treatment with
sound excellent in PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo in a pressing limited to 3,000
copies, so you might want to get it now before they run out and Carey was also issued that way. The original 1978 Coma here was issued on Blu-ray recently, but we received neither
of those, so we’ll pass on comment unless we catch up with them later, but we
have covered the 2012 TV mini-series remake of Coma and you can find out more about it at the link below. You can already tell I am a Westworld fan and this includes its
Budd’s Carey score was for a film directed by
the late Blake Edwards, who may have been known for his Pink Panther films, but was capable of more. Released in 1972, the film has a dated
abortion plot, but the music is done very intelligently. As for Coma
(1978), the idea of organs for profit is as relevant as ever and even creepier,
not seen as a problem like it should be.
Crichton directed this adaptation from his script and though it is
better thanks to a score from a genius like Goldsmith in prime form.
leaves Westworld, which has its
innovate electronic music made by Karlin, with his electronic music being the
sonic highlight here with remarkable fidelity and dynamic range that will
surprise many. Those masters should be
used for any lossless DTS-MA Blu-ray and is very impressive here. Note that this is also the debut of the
complete soundtrack, while Carey
debuts on the CD and Coma is here in
an extended and alternate version.
read about the 2012 Coma TV
mini-series remake at this link:
the title covered here, both releases are absolutely, highly collectable.
order Futureworld DVD from Amazon or
at this link:
order the Westworld/Coma/Carey Treatment
CD set at this link:
- Nicholas Sheffo