I remember first seeing the trailers for HBO’s Westworld. I was hooked from the first second. It all looked so intricate and complex, so it came as no surprise to see that Jonathan Nolan was part of the team. Brother to Christopher, he co-wrote films such as The Dark Knight and Interstellar. He is one of the writers of the show, which is based off of the 1973 film, directed and written by Michael Crichton, and is futuristic science fiction. The show premiered last night, and oh. My. God.
The only experience I have with HBO is Game of Thrones. But clearly good content is what they specialize in, because after last night I feel the need to watch all of their shows! I can honestly say that I have never seen anything quite like Westworld before. The show has two main settings which balance each other beautifully. We are transported to the warm-toned Old West to the very cool-toned laboratory where everything is created. These atmospheres are very different from one another, and yet both have an intense darkness.
This show features what can only be described as Artificial Intelligence. But these robots, if even they can be called that, have been so advanced that they not only appear to be lifelike, but they have their own emotions, thoughts, their own lives. While most of it is programmed, it seems that they are able to go “off-script”. Each AI being is referred to as a host. They are unaware of what they are and what their purpose is. They think this is the real world, and that they are real people. The tourists, I suppose you could call them, the humans who visit Westworld, are thought of as newcomers. They are able to interact with the hosts in any way they wish, from simple conversation and perhaps a pleasant dinner, to much darker thirsts.
The show deals with the darkness within ourselves. What are we capable of, as humans? How dark are our urges? Must they be sated? Westworld offers an opportunity. You may be intimate with the hosts, as gently or roughly as you choose. You may commit crimes against the hosts. You may even murder the hosts. What is so disturbing is that the hosts are so lifelike they are practically human. They can be fixed, of course. Death is not permanent for them (unless they go off-script), but that doesn’t change the fact that humans come to this place, look someone right in the eye, and can do whatever they wish to them. Westworld reveals your true natures, and allows you to play a much darker game than it would seem.
It also toys with the idea of the humanity within the hosts. When can something be considered human? And when is science no longer justifiable? If the hosts are close enough to human, wouldn’t this experimentation and these workings be torture rather than science? Some of the hosts are certainly more likable, almost easier to relate to than the actual humans that visit them. It’s such an intriguing concept, covered in such a disturbing but beautiful way. From what I’m gathering, that’s kind of HBO’s specialty.
The opening credits are simply breathtaking, as you can see here:
The cinematography and music actually quite reminded me of Penny Dreadful‘s title sequence, which I personally think is one of the most beautifully done ever:
Westworld features a star-studded cast, including Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, and Thandie Newton to name only a few. I also thought Rodrigo Santoro was a genius choice for one of the baddies, and I can’t wait to see what Ben Barnes will bring. The cast has already proven their talents, and the crew is just as incredible. Between Jonathan Nolan, who actually directed this episode, as one of the lead writers, and the breathtakingly talented Ramin Djawadi as composer, it’s no surprise that this show is already as incredible as it is. It’ll be exciting to see what happens next! There are a lot of places Westworld could go, and I think a lot of us have been waiting for a show like this.
If you haven’t seen it yet and are debating whether you should, I deeply encourage you to give the first episode a try. I was hooked right away, and I have a feeling that Westworld could do for science fiction what Game of Thrones did for fantasy. This is not one to miss, nor is it one that’s overrated. Make no mistake, Westworld is one of the biggest shows this fall, and rightfully so.
What did you think of the premiere? Feel free to geek out with me in the comments!