Westworld (2016)

westworld-overlay-aGenre: Sci-Fi/Darma

Rating: R

Directors: Richard J. Lewis, Jonathan Nolan, Michael Crichton

Show runners: HBO

Running Time: 1 hour episodes

 Main Cast: Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Wright, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood

Westworld isn’t your typical amusement park, and the same can be said for the television show, as it leads the claim that hybrid television shows can work. 

The show is an adaption of the 1973 film of the same name, which was written and directed by American novelist Michael Crichton (writer, Jurassic Park). The show is created by Jonathan Nolan (creator of Person of Interest) and Lisa Joy (Pushing Daisies & Burn Notice) and aired on HBO, adding another quality show to their already busting show reel.

The show takes place in a fictional amusement park named Westworld. It is a technology advanced park where high paying visitors called “guests”, may indulge in a world populated by androids known as “hosts”, who cannot harm but can be harmed by the “guests”.

The park is run by Robert Ford (Sir Anthony Hopkins), who is the co-founder and creative director of the park. He is joined by Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) who is the head of the Westworld Programming Division and aids in the creation and upkeep of the Hosts. Hounding at the backs of Ford and Lowe is Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen), Westworld’s operations leader, responsible for keeping the world working as normal.

Meanwhile in the park, a man in black is in search of a maze, which relates to understanding the deeper meaning of the park. As the Man in Black (Ed Harris) searches some of the hosts start to behave differently and there is a deeper meaning towards their changed behaviours, which becomes clearer as the show goes on.

The reason why Westworld works so well is the rich, deep narrative it provides for the viewer. Every episode is full with character development and twists that will continuously keep you hooked. It’s also a narrative that takes its inspiration from 3 different genres, Western, Sci-fi and Drama. Allowing it to mix and match between the two and never feel like one out plays the other. The deepness of the narrative is what got me hooked and continued to draw me in throughout the season.

westworld-extra-0

Hopkins is at his powerful best in Westworld – Source HBO

But one downfall to the wonderful narrative is how much it wants you to concentrate and think about what’s happening. There is a lot of scientific jargon used in the film and often I had to rewind the show just to make sure I understood what was happening in a particular scene. It isn’t a show that is a casual sit down and watch, its a show that asks for your undivided attention, where at times I would tell my mum to get off her phone or she would miss something.

A lot of effort has gone into the show and you can tell by the end result of the show. The park itself looks stunning and able to resemble that of an old western town and the old frontier in America. Production designer Zack Grobler and his team have done a wonderful job of presenting us with a visually appealing set design, that allows the show to shine both visually and through its narrative. Providing dark sets for the lab stages of the show, to paint a sinister side to whats happening, and a more brighter and run down feeling for the park sets. Combining these visuals and Nolan and Joy’s narrative with Ane Crabtree’s costume design and the show looks and runs superbly. Crabtree wanted the costumes for the show to be authentic, so she took inspiration from actual clothing from the 1850’s to 80’s and created many of the speaking casts costumes from scratch.

The world we see in Westworld would not be possible if it were not for the creative minds of not only Crabtree and Grober, but also creators Nolan and Joy who also serve as executive producers along with J. J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub, and Bryan Burk. They put faith into an idea so out there that when we look at it, we cannot help but just sit back and admire.

The casting by John Papsidera (Jurassic World) is superb getting the likes of Hollywood legend Sir Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) and combining him with Jeffery Wright (Hunger Games), Ed Harris (Gravity) and Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler) as the 4 main characters, Ford (Hopkins), Bernard (Wright), Man in Black (Harris) and Dolores (Rachel Wood). Rachel Wood and Hopkins steal the show with their complex characters and their perfect portrayal of the story arcs. Hopkins is able to keep us on our toes with his Ford, while Rachel Wood keeps us guessing on what exactly is going on inside the mind of Dolores. I cannot explain Wrights performance without ruining a key plot point in the show, but watch out for his subtle hints towards what his character is truly about. Harris is a badass, showing how dark and how violent his character can be with ease, making it hard to decide whether you hate, pity or like the man he portrays. The smaller parts are over all well cast and add to the leading roles well creating a quite rounded performance from the whole cast.

Westworld is another not to miss show by HBO and is something that needs to be watched with your full concentration because of its deep, rich narratives with numerous twists in bedded. Full concentration is also needed to fully appreciate the acting performances, costumes and set design. Westworld has serious watch and rematch value. A show you need to add to your watch list.

 

The Front Row Opinion

★★★★★

Here is the Trailer for Westworld and don’t forget to like The Front Row Reviewer on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @thefrontrowreviewer

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