Review – Westworld

As a huge fan of Game of Thrones (both book and TV show versions), the news that another television epic by HBO was being released was incredibly exciting.  Westworld had me hooked before I even saw five minutes of the show.  A show based on the works of Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park) combined with the great minds of both Jonathan Nolan (Memento, The Prestige) and J.J. Abrams (Lost, Super 8, Star Wars VII) makes for a great partnership and drew me in immediately.  Add in a cast ripe with talent, most notably Anthony Hopkins aka Hannibal Lector from Silence of the Lambs, and this show has a lot of potential right off the bat.


Westworld’s logo

Westworld is a Western-themed park filled with androids; a place which human guests can visit and proceed to do as they please.  The guests cannot be hurt by the androids and their actions have no consequences, so most engage in killing, whoring and pillaging.  The androids are set to a scripted storyline and are rebuilt, erased and remodelled to serve many different purposes.  However, some of the android characters begin developing glitches or “memories” of past storylines which causes all sorts of problems.  I’m not going to say too much regarding plot points in fear of spoiling anything major, but believe me when I say it is masterful.

The show centres on both human and android characters such as Dolores, the sweet girl who seems to always be at the centre of everything; Maeve, the brothel owner with a sharp tongue; William, the good-hearted human who wants to try his hand at adventure; and Bernard, the head technician at the park.  Characters come and go but each serves a distinct role, and a sharp script filled with literary references brings each episode to life.  Westworld is accompanied by a stunning soundtrack that blends recognisable songs such as ‘Paint It Black’ with a Western feel, while the cinematography deserves an award in itself for its sweeping landscapes and distinct differentiations between the park and the outside world.

maeve-1920Maeve and Dolores, respectively

As much as I loved this show, having just finished the first season, I came into it prepared with the knowledge of what I was signing up for.  Both Nolan brothers have carved a niche for themselves with films that manage to challenge and mystify – think movies such as Inception, Memento and Interstellar –  and with this in mind I did not expect this to be simple and straightforward viewing.  Damn right this show was full of cryptic half-explained mysteries, such as the “maze” being sought out by the Man in Black (a mysterious and vague figure himself), the role and motives of Dr Robert Ford the park creator (Hopkins), and others I can’t even mention for fear of ruining the show for anyone who plans on watching it.

Prepared to suspend my disbelief and hold my questions, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire series.  The standout performances for me were Thandie Newton’s Maeve and Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores, two well-written female characters with motives, strengths and flaws (I’m a sucker for strong female characters that aren’t just love interests so I may be biased).  I had my guesses as to how it would pan out, and although I was surprised and smug come the season finale I was overwhelmingly satisfied.  Most of the loose ends were tied up, yet plenty of room was left for a second season to take the reins.

If you haven’t watched Westworld yet, you’re missing out.  With season 2 not airing until 2018 there’s plenty of time to catch up, so what are you waiting for?


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