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* May contain slight spoilers *
As many sci-fi fans will know, the show 'Westworld' is based on the 1973 feature film of the same name (written and directed by Michael Crichton), and the premise is basically the same as it was then: In a future where technological possibilities are seemingly endless, a highly sophisticated theme park offers rich clients the chance to visit the long gone era of the Old West (Crichton later explored a variation of that theme in a certain well known novel which was then adapted by a certain Mr. Spielberg - albeit with slightly different creatures than cowboys populating a slightly more "jurassic" environment).
The show does a great job pulling the viewer immediately into Westworld. Within 10 minutes of the first episode, the basic rules of the theme park are established: paying guests called "newcomers" get to interact with androids called "hosts" (which to the naked eye are indiscernible from the guests) in a world dressed up like the Old West and in this world, the guest truly is king. The rules are brutally simple: the visitors get to do whatever they like with or to the androids. They can have a friendly chat with them, flirt with them or embark on a spontaneous (or scripted) adventure with them but they can also shoot them, rape them, torture them and kill them at will. Imagine a real-life version of the game 'Grand Theft Auto' (in a slightly different setting) and you'll get the idea.
The androids, on the other hand, are constructed and programmed in a way that is supposed to inhibit them from physically harming "living" creatures. At the beginning of the show - thanks to an interesting choice of storytelling - we get to experience Westworld from the perspective of the androids, which reveals a cruel detail about their nature: they apparently experience emotions. Artificial or not, they do feel pain and fear as well as affection and anger, and they have no idea that they don't count as "real" people (at least not to those who call themselves real people). And while that detail certainly makes the "game" even more thrilling and more realistic for the visitors, it means that the shocking abuse some of the androids have to suffer is harrowingly real to them.
The way the show is constructed - so far - it immediately confronts the viewer with very uncomfortable questions. How do we as humans behave towards creatures we consider non-human? How excessive do we become and how thin does our layer of morality turn out to be if we're allowed to live out all our fantasies without having to fear any consequences for our actions? And at what point should a creature have rights similar to those we demand for ourselves? How do we define "sentient"? How do we define "human"? And how well do we actually understand - and how well are we able to control - the amazing technology our species seems to have acquired so suddenly?
As an avid film fan, I found 'Westworld' immediately intriguing; not only because it dares to challenge the viewer with fascinating philosophical questions and scientific concepts, but also because its premise offers the chance to explore a wide range of film genres: sci- fi, western, drama, horror - to name but a few. In the first few episodes alone, there are hints of many of my favorite films and stories such as (obviously) 'Frankenstein', 'Blade Runner', 'A.I.', 'Ex Machina', 'Jurassic Park', 'The Truman Show' and 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' (and I suspect somewhere down the road there will be a strong 'Spartacus' vibe). As for the non plot related aspects of the show: production design, music and effects are fantastic as we've come to expect from HBO's high concept productions and, with very few exceptions, the impressive ensemble of high caliber actors do a great job at bringing their respective characters to life (artificial and otherwise).
A special mention needs to go to Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins: their charismatic screen presence is once more just impossible to ignore and they simply own every scene they're in. Generally speaking, there really isn't much to complain about in 'Westworld' (so far), and I'm pretty sure HBO have another winner. Given the amount of talent involved, anything else actually would have been surprising. Produced by J.J. Abrams, created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy Nolan based on a concept by the late great Michael Crichton; directed by Neil Marshall and Vincenzo Natali (among others), and with a cast most shows would kill for, the stars really seem to have aligned for 'Westworld'.
My overall verdict so far: 'Westworld' is intelligent science fiction for adults (some scenes are very graphic) which offers more than just eye candy and is full of mysteries for the patient viewer to uncover. The show's main themes may not be new, but I found the way they are presented never less than compelling. It succeeds in creating a powerful metaphor for oppression, and by showing how quickly humans tend to deem "un-humane" treatment of other beings acceptable - once they've managed to convince themselves they're "less" human than they are - the show drove a point home that resonated strongly with me. 9 stars out of 10.
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
Favorite films: http://www.IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/
Lesser-Known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054808375/
Pay attention, this series explores some very subtle story lines. I was
extremely impressed when they introduced the bicameral mind concept
when considering consciousness. That is one of the more important
concepts when considering the origins of consciousness. I hope they
explore this idea in greater detail and especially its implications
related to physics. It is rare indeed to have a fictional work
undertake such a complex topic without trivializing it. I definitely
have to compliment the writers for undertaking such a complex topic and
I hope they continue to explore the implications.
Again, IMDb thinks I should add additional lines to my review which is ridiculous. I have offered a clear and concise review and they want an arbitrary number of lines, what kind of idiot makes this a requirement?
This show is so far perfect. The story is intriguing, the visuals are
beautiful and the acting is incredible.
The previous reviewer who said the violence is unnecessary has missed the point in my opinion. The violence is very much needed. It is there to make you feel uncomfortable, because it is that inner dark side and battle between good and evil (and more often than not the middle ground between) that is at the very epicenter of the human condition.This is what the show is often commenting on and this is what makes this show so interesting, thought provoking and ultimately entertaining.
If it carries on in the same vein we will have a modern day classic on our hands.
Wow, where to begin...
First of all, the score by Ramin Djawadi is absolutely majestic!
The actors, well, whatever I say just won't be enough. It's a total pleasure watching every second of their stellar performances.
The plot - being a huge fan of sci-fi, it simply doesn't get better than that!
The scenery is gorgeous, it really takes you in the past. That constant mix of past and future is brilliant.
Overall, I am amazed ( obviously ), mesmerized and absolutely loving every single thing about this show!
Already a classic in my book <3
First of all, it is very clear that the production mindset behind
Westworld is far from creating a cheap product with generic high bursts
of tension/love/horror/excitement. It is full of deep human conflicts,
that is if you are open to watch it with a clear mind.
Hopkins' quote from the end of episode 2 when he says "No" to "Odyssey on Red River" and explanation of his refusal feels like a statement of the production mindset. "Odyssey on Red River" pretty much summarizes everything wrong with entertainment media nowadays, and Westworld is a real delight that shines as a great production.
I don't know how to tell its greatness without spoiling the show, but unless you want a cheap ride you will glimpse at screen in between your texting; you can not not enjoy this show!
If you've watched the original film, you will approach watching Westworld with an understanding of the basic premise and a moderate expectation of entertainment. That is how I approached it, and my expectations were taken to another level. Westworld is, put simply, a contemporary screenplay masterpiece. It has taken the original premise and intelligently added layers of complexity to its plot that resonate with where humanity finds itself in the 21st century. What is consciousness? What is humanity? Where is the line? And how does this related to creating artificial consciousness? The original film failed to explain how 'what happened' happened. But the TV show eludes to the faultline between corporate sponsorship (The Board) and scientific enquiry. I will avoid spoilers for anyone who has not seen this yet, but in setting the seen the writers/producers have created Westworld not only as a TV show, but as a series of questions for humanity to ponder. And the acting is sublime, in particular Evan Rachel Wood & Thandie Newton's characters evoke empathy in my very core.
Westworld has quickly and unexpectedly become one of my favorite shows
of all time. It's a show that manages to make the viewer ask questions
about human existence and human morality.
I was really excited to watch this show because of the premise alone: There's a theme park filled with robots called 'hosts' that are made to resemble humans in almost every way; visitors to the theme park enter a western themed world where they can do whatever they want, including raping and murdering the hosts. At the beginning, I wasn't sure where the show was headed, but it intrigued me. After a few episodes, some questions were answered and as I began to see the direction the show was taking, I fell in love with it.
The show presents the perspective of many different characters who each have their own opinion on what is right and wrong regarding the use of the hosts. And there's always mystery in the plot that'll keep you wondering about the people, their motives and whether or not they should be considered an immoral person based on their actions.
Westworld challenges us to think about what makes someone a conscious human being and what exactly makes us real and separates us from the hosts.
It's a beautifully layered story about the dawn of Artificial Intelligence, where the androids are becoming more & more emotional as they gain consciousness, and humans are becoming more homicidal as they lose their humanity. In a theme park world, where human actions are devoid of any consequences, as machines evolve by self-learning, they are becoming more enlightened than their creators. Bringing together huge names like Michael Crichton, Jonathan Nolan and Anthony Hopkins, along with a multi-million dollar budget, this show, just after a 9 episode run, looks promising enough to be the best TV show ever. Could it break the record-breaking following achieved by Game of Thrones, could it keep blowing away our mind even after a 5 season run like Breaking Bad...I can't wait to find out.
No spoilers... I haven't watched the original movie. I won't watch it
either, because I want to be guided by this series.
The theme song and intro are brilliant. Warm piano music contrast the robot-esque fabrication and programming of man made perfection.
The story does not seem to be everlasting in length but almost infinite in width. Imagine what kind of people would pay to go to a place where no laws affect you, where paying customers can murder, rape, live their fantasies without scrupulous. The man made actors and actresses in a real fictional world often seem more human then the paying clients who visit Westworld to create their personal Sodom and Gomorrah. Its a dance of empathy and apathy on every level. The depth is breathtaking, the viewer is treated on a painfully confronting view of what man is capable off.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's very badly written in significant ways. There are no good
characters at all. No one to care about, no one to love or hate, no one
to root for; No good protagonists or antagonists. The show is so
shrouded in its own mystery that it doesn't reveal anything for me to
care about as a viewer. I don't care at all about the man in black or
what he's doing because it's all being deliberately held close, like
they don't want me to know any answers yet, only questions. Questions
that they want to take their sweet time to answer. They want me to hold
on. They want me to keep watching. They keep making this promise like
the show is building towards something, and although it's slow and
although nothing seems to be happening from one ep to the next, I
should hold on. "Trust me, it'll be great. The ending will be great.
The ending will make your head spin. Trust me."
Uh, no. No, I don't trust you. I don't trust you because you haven't been able to create one single character for me to care about in any way shape or form. You haven't been able to create any characters at all as a matter of fact - everything we know about the characters in this show has been told to us, as a statement, in expository dialogue. We don't see the characters do things that develop them into individual characters and instead we're simply told who these people are. God-awful writing. Stoic, wooden, stiff characters who do almost nothing. I understand that if we spend a lot of time with them we can grow to care about them a lot, so when things happen to them it has more impact. But these characters are so thin and uninteresting that the time we spend with them is tedious and I end up caring about them less rather than more.
I don't mind a slow story if that's the nature of it, but the slowness of Westworld is forced and contrived. It's clear we're being strung along. It's clear the show is dragging its feet. We're seeing scenes that could be trimmed entirely with no consequence. We're seeing the same thing over and over. I get it. Move forward. Stop wasting my time. The story is so simple - the robots become self- aware and then there's moral and philosophical questions. Why is it taking so long? In the 6 hours I've seen, this show has done almost nothing, has developed no characters and has barely moved its story forward an inch. It's not "slow" - it's discursive. It's stringing me along and wasting my time.
If you can't show me the basics of pacing and character development I have zero hope that you're going to blow me away with an amazing ending.
Westworld is comfortably among the worst shows I've ever seen.
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