James Franco’s name on the marquee has always been more appealing when it’s as an actor rather than as a director, but after the success of last year’s Z-movie saga The Disaster Artist, he could change all that — especially with the desert-biker riff Future World.

That’s the same title as the ’70s sequel to the Westworld movie, but the similarities seem to end there. Franco co-directs this with Bruce Thierry Cheung, who’s worked as the former’s cinematographer for years. Together, they’ve come up with a movie that looks like they added a single synthetic being beneath the spiked leather pauldrons of Mad Max’s oil-driven society.

Here’s the initial trailer & poster for James Franco & Bruce Thierry Cheung’s Future World, discovered on YouTube:

Mad Max, Rip-Off, Future World, Bad, Trailer, James Franco, Bruce Thierry Cheung

Suki Waterhouse plays the complex, Ex Machina-like robotic being, who fights grimy henchmen and wrecks Jeeps as well as any action hero. She’s woken by Franco’s yellow-toothed character, who, along with Milla Jovovich’s scheming ringleader, seems to have an ulterior motive (surprise!) for this chosen android.

“It was at that moment I became aware of exactly how different I was.” Lionsgate has released a trailer for a movie called Future World, a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi action western that looks quite a bit like a straight-up rip-off of Mad Max. Yep, really. The title also sounds like it’s a spin-off of “Westworld”, but thankfully these two are different. This looks so bad I really don’t even want to give it any attention, but only just to be amazed at how much of a rip-off this is – sand motorcycles and grungy cars and everything. James Franco co-directs, and stars along with Milla Jovovich, Lucy Liu, Margarita Levieva, Suki Waterhouse, Method Man, Snoop Dogg, Elisha Henig, and Scott Haze. It might just be a bad trailer, it also might just be a bad movie. Whatever the case, this looks downright horrible and I hope film fans stay far, far away.

Here’s the synopsis:

A young boy’s mother is dying and beyond the capabilities of any local medicine. Desperate for an answer, the boy travels across the barren future world wasteland, scavenging for a cure that is only rumored to exist. His will and perseverance will be tested as he strives to protect his family.

Pretty much just all the flavor of The Road Warrior with some robotic intrigue thrown in for good measure. Sure, Lucy Liu, Method Man, and Snoop Dogg stop by — which makes it far more interesting than if it was simply Franco wandering around cackling in a desert like it was Burning Man — but there’re far more references than original ideas in the trailer.

That said, the generic title and borrowed aesthetic only make the differences stand out more. Fighting over a single woman, while similar to the plot of Mad Max: Fury Road’s enslaved escape, is complicated a bit when she’s a superpowered fighting robot. Future World’s influences are certainly in the right place to be fun, but beyond that, we’ll only know in a future world.

Future World is directed by actor / filmmaker James Franco (of The Broken Tower, Sal, Interior Leather Bar, As I Lay Dying, Child of God, The Sound and the Fury, In Dubious Battle, The Disaster Artist) and cinematographer / filmmaker Bruce Thierry Cheung (director of The Color of Time, Don’t Come Back from the Moon). The screenplay is written by Jeremy Cheung, Jay Davis, and Bruce Thierry Cheung. The film has not premiered at any film festivals. Lionsgate will release Future World in theaters starting May 25th this year. Thoughts?

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