Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?
HBO adapted Michael Crichton’s original film Westworld and made it into a modern, 21rst Century, sci-fi western masterpiece full of star power. Evan Rachel Wood stars as Delores, a recurring character in this fantasy western world created as virtual entertainment. With glorious aerial shots and state of the art special effects, this new series is poised to blow your mind. And if that doesn’t do it pay attention to the music score. Perfection!
Dr Robert Ford, played by Anthony Hopkins, is the CEO tasked with keeping this virtual world running safely and smoothly. Other stellar cast of programmers and business managers are soon introduced. I was able to recognize James Marsden, Ed Woods and eventually Thandie Newton as recurring characters but I still can’t make out who are hosts and who are the guests. Why? Because from the get go the story alternates between the characters inside the alternate reality and the ones running the simulation, subtly introducing to the viewer the ghosts in the machine that may turn this dream state into a nightmare. By the end of the pilot you are left wondering if the newcomers are to blame for the chaos inside the program or if the required system maintenance is at fault. Will this endeavor fail? If you have seen the original movie with Yul Brynner you may know where this is all going but judging by the networks need to improvise and make anything their own, it could end up becoming a totally different story.
As unique as The Matrix and as full of twists as Blade Runner, you will either fall in love with the drama and gunslinging or you will hate it. Do not assume it is steampunk because it isn’t. To me it feels more like being stuck inside the Animus in Assassin’s Creed, watching the story unfold as it is narrated by someone inside the action. It is such a nerdgasm that you can’t describe it in layman terms. The science and philosophy are decades ahead of its time and some may even find the subject matter offensive. The idea that technology could be used to create false memories and experiences for a price and at a profit may be disturbing. Imagine being able to scrub away part of your personality and history. Redefining who you is not only alluring but can seem despicable; what you feel and what you remember can be manipulated at will and maybe even without your consent. Are we being controlled? Can we be truly certain of the nature of our reality?
Find out on Sundays at 9pm on HBO and HBO Go. Enjoy!