REVIEW: HBO’s Westworld season 1

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As soon as I discovered that there was to be an adaptation of the 1973 film Westworld, and not only that, but it was going to star Sir Anthony Hopkins – I was immediately overwhelmed with excitement. Having studied the 1973 film during my A-Levels at Sixth Form, I already had a fondness for it, but as is plain for anyone to see – at the time the film was made, film making and technology was nowhere near the quality needed to be able to successfully bring the Westworld storyline to life. But fast forward to 2016, and here we have the premise to create something brilliant, and to properly introduce Westworld to the Rest-of-the-World. I know, sorry.

Although, at it’s time of release it may have been more believable than to someone watching the film today, overall it’s quality and production value is a product of it’s time – and although I can appreciate the film as being a film of it’s time, now it is merely a film of the past, and it’s fantastic to see that the storyline has been reinvented and turned into a rather brilliant TV series.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Sci-fi, in fact I’d go as far as to say it’s probably my favourite genre of TV/film – and this new Westworld adaptation DID NOT DISAPPOINT…I would highly recommend anybody who hasn’t seen it yet, to go and watch it immediately, you won’t regret it!

I’m going to try my best not to give too much away for those who haven’t watched it yet, just a general overview of the series, however that alone is probably going to give more away than I would like to read about if I’d not seen the series yet, so bearing that in mind, this is the point were you should STOP READING, if you want to enjoy this fantastic series how it’s meant to be seen for the first time – but make sure you come back and read the rest of my post when you’ve watched it,  leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Right, well now that’s out of the way…

It’s first episode screening pulled in over 3.3 million viewers, and the finale was watched by a slightly higher 3.6 million viewers, making it HBO’s most-watched show, EVER. So if my ramblings aren’t enough to tempt you, the figures alone show how massively successful this new adaptation has become.

The series is full or secrets, hidden meanings and storylines that will shock you when all is finally revealed. It’s non linear structure keeps you constantly thinking and wondering, and it really is a series that just keeps on giving. Just when you think you have grasped whats going on, you should think again.

Throughout the series, we see the characters working their way towards finding/getting through a maze, and much like the characters, we as an audience are doing the same. The series, although not clear until the final episodes, is NOT in chronological order, we’re seeing multiple narratives, from different periods of time, all at once. And at first we’re lead to believe they’re all happening at the same time, in the present, which makes for an amazing final episode when it is revealed that the character we’re made to care for and admire, the protagonist, and the character that we are made to hate, the antagonist, are one of the same. Mind boggling, I know.

This non linear narrative puts the audience in the same position as the hosts (the robots), we’re given all of this information, this complicated storyline, and we believe that what we have been given is true, but it isn’t. What we know, and when, is being controlled by someone else, basically just like the hosts are the puppets controlled by the parks operators, we are the puppets controlled by the series.  We are the hosts.

Throughout the series we see some of the hosts questioning what’s going on, questioning their surroundings – and similarly we are questioning what’s going on, we are questioning Westworld. The brilliance of simultaneously nurturing the audience into loving and hating what we believe to be two separate characters, but are actually one of the same, offers us a glimpse into the ‘minds’ of the hosts – each day they live over and over, interacting with different hosts and of course the parks guests, and one day they might have to have sex with a guest (love them), and the next day they’re involved in a shoot out with the same guest (hate them), just like they don’t know what or how to feel, neither do the audience, and it’s this sense of confusion that makes the series so fantastic.

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The series is extraordinarily well acted – the cast are superb, and without such an amazing cast, I doubt very much that the series would have been so successful. Throughout the series we see different characters exploring different routes as hosts, and the skills that the cast have to be able to flit between emotions as the hosts are programmed to act in different ways, is nothing short of award-winning performances. Thandie Newton is my stand out favourite when it comes to performances, although there are several character portrayals I feel are very well acted – she is by far the best.

Those of you who have seen the 1973 film will know that as well as Westworld, there are also two other ‘worlds’… Medieval World and Roman World, and I for one can’t wait to see what season 2 has in store.

Will we get a glimpse into another World?

Or will the whole series be about a different World that has nothing to do with Westworld?

Will it even be based around the same characters? I mean, after the final episode, surely the park aren’t going to keep the same hosts in operation?

Well, we’ve got a long wait, as the next season won’t be on our screens until 2018 – but don’t let that make you lose hope… In season 1 there are a few clues that suggest we’re going to be introduced to other worlds in the next season – the most prominent being, in the final episode we see a Shōgun symbol on the wall, and a few scenes with Samurai/ Shōgun hosts ‘rehearsing’ – a big indication of a new world for season 2.

There is also another scene, when Felix gives Maeve a note with the location of her host daughter, which reads ‘Park 1, Sector 15, Zone 3’ – this suggesting that there is more than one park and therefore more than one world.

I could quite easily ramble on about this series for hours, in terms of film analysis there is literally so much to explore, the semiotics, cinematography, storylines, themes, etc I could go on for hours… so I’ll leave you with this final comment, I absolutely loved this series, from start to finish it is utterly brilliant, and I can’t recommend it enough! Go and watch it immediately, and then report back with your thoughts!

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with my latest posts, and don’t forget to leave a comment and share my post. Thanks for reading!

Lee.

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