Westworld: The Original Review
“These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume.”
– William Shakespeare, (Romeo and Juliet)
Must see TV at its absolute finest and most gorgeous. Just when you think 2016 could not possibly churn out another binge worthy show to keep us dying to know what happens next, Westworld gets dropped on our doorstep. This is a collaboration between J.J Abrams (Star Wars) and Jonathan Nolan (Dark Knight, Inception) and it is based on the 1973 film written my literary legend Michael Crichton.
Just think about a theme park where the technology used to bring it to life is so real, so cutting edge that you can step into this world and basically live out your wild west fantasies, not wearing a heavy VR helmet or playing a video game, do it for real. You can take walk into the saloon, drink with the locals, go with the sheriff to chase down criminals in the wild, get into gun fights with bandits and highwaymen, it’s real, well for the most part. Westworld is exactly that, tourists can enter into a real wild west fantasy and interact with the local AI “hosts”, and live out their wildest escapist fantasies, regardless of how horrible.
The show really does not hold back with how far some of these “newcomers” are willing to go in their visit to the wild west, but at the end of the day the little town of Sweetwater resets and starts over, kind of like Groundhog Day and you start over but it is really up to the guests as to how the day plays out, and of course what “narratives” the programmers want to introduce. But of course that is all just whats playing on the surface of Westworld, there is a deeper game going on behind the scenes that only begins to unravel, and of course leaves the viewer wanting more.
The plot of the first episode is absolutely fantastic, it grabs you by the boots from the get go and dares you to hold on to the finish of the episode as it opens up the mystery of what Westworld is and what is going on behind the scenes.
The camera work is stellar, it captures all the majestic beauty of a wild west town, but then at the same time when we switch to behind the scenes we get a stark utilitarian, science fiction vibe. The sweeping shots of the Southwest are a sight to behold and this new epic tale from HBO easily sits on par with any of their other high end dramas. Everything from the costume design right down to the dialogue is absolutely top notch.
One thing that really stood out to me was the music of the episode. The player piano in the saloon in Sweetwater tends to belt out some very interesting tunes. From “Black Hole Sun” to “Paint it Black” it was fun playing guess that tune as the music rolled. The creators of Westworld have done an excellent job not only painting a picture of a Wild West town, but have also accompanied the music along with it.
The cast itself is absolutely all star, led by Sir Anthony Hopkins as the creator of Westworld Dr. Robert Ford (a playing God, John Hammond-type), who is always trying to create his park to be more and more real, and much like John Hammond and his “spare no expense” attitude, Dr. Ford will go to great lengths to keep his park running ahead of the curve. The rest of the cast is nothing short of stellar as well, with Ed Harris playing a pretty terrifying Man In Black, a guest who’s intentions are not fully known to us yet but from the get go it does not look like he wants Sweetwater to be all flowers and rainbows. Inside the town the “hosts” are made up of Thandie Newton, James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood, Rodrigo Santoro, and a few other faces you will recognize. They play their characters phenomenally, especially Evan Rachel Wood as the first episode centres on her character of Dolores.
In short I am extremely excited to see how the rest of this season plays out, with the “hosts” inside Westworld interacting with the real humans that visit, and what twists and turns the creators take us in. With as it stands right now, “hosts” are programmed not to hurt real people so that there is no real danger to the visitors in the park, sound familiar, it should because the same man that wrote the original Westworld drew inspiration seemingly from it for Jurassic Park. A theme created to excite and inspire guests and it all seemingly goes wrong based in relation to its programming.
Anyway, it plays out I am excited and cannot wait to see where J.J Abrams and Jonathan Nolan take us, and this can easily be added to the list of Must See TV for 2016.