HBO’s Westworld is a visually and thematically stunning piece of entertainment
Don’t let anyone tell you that HBO’s latest mega-series Westworld is just a pretty picture. Sure, it offers stunning vistas and beautifully rendered locales and exquisite costumes. From the opening five minutes, the show immediately feels like one of those properties where every penny spent shows onscreen. But look only skin deep at the richness of Westworld, and that’s all you’ll get. Look closer, and you’ll see that Westworld offers much, much more beneath its slick surface.
A reimagining of the Michael Crichton-directed 1973 film of the same name, Westworld comes to HBO from the husband-wife team of Jonathan Nolan (Christopher’s brother) and Lisa Joy. Here, rather than focus on the film’s robots-gone-bad plot line, Nolan and Joy offer up a complex story filled with so many details and ideas that it’s hard to take in on a single viewing. The basic plot is this: this “Westworld” is effectively a theme park for the wealthy populated by “hosts” who tailor your experience within to your tastes. Want to hunt an outlaw? Check with the sheriff. Want the company of a beautiful lady? There’s a saloon for that with prices by the door. Want to shoot and slice the throats of random passersby? Stab away. No one will stop you now that you’ve paid your way.
To say much more about the story would detract from the experience.
Westworld is something to discover. Something to let flow over you with its rich visuals and even richer ideas. The cast takes you on a journey that considers not only what makes us human but also what it means to be human in the first place. There’s a heavy dash of the Frankenstein myth. There’s the whole concept of free will versus determination at play too. This mind-boggling array of themes comes wrapped in a gorgeous, best-money-can-buy package too led by a star-studded cast whose overall performances are rivaled only by HBO’s own Game of Thrones on this epic scale. My personal favorites thus far are Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, and Sir Anthony Hopkins (natch). Wood and Newton, in particular, are revelations as they negotiate the horror of being robots suddenly infused with memories of just how bad people can be.
But don’t let me spoil it for you. Discover Westworld all on your own. It’s worth the price of admission.
Westworld premieres Sunday night at 9pm ET on HBO.