If you’ve ever dreamed of living out a cowboy fantasy in the wild west, riding off into the sunset, tipping your hat as you wave goodbye to the local saloon staff…after you’ve ransacked the whole town and engaged in at least one shoot out, then you need to visit Westworld.
In this TV reboot of the 1973 film of the same name, Westworld is like a grown-up Disneyland from the year 3021, where instead of rides there are hyper realistic robots, all dressed up in cowboy outfits, and you can shag or shoot – sometimes even both – whoever you want. We won’t be booking tickets either, but we will be binge watching this brilliant and compelling show.
When we enter season one, everything is going rather swimmingly – the mega rich humans are visiting the park, having a jolly good time playing with their cyborg entertainers – or hosts, as they’re called at Westworld – then popping home again to shower off the sawdust and carry on with their everyday lives. The everyday lives of said cyborgs, however, aren’t quite as sweet. After every load of tourists leaves, they’re cleaned off and rebooted, ready for another round. Doesn’t sound like a nice existence, does it? Especially if you’re actually secretly sentient, and harbouring a plot to take down these humans that keep using and abusing you.
That’s the case for brothel madam Maeve (Thandi Newton), and the wholesome country girl Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) who is quickly falling in love with park regular, Teddy Flood (James Marsden). Obviously, things soon go awry as robots start doing things outside of their selected functions, feeling real emotions and realising their situation. Season by season the show gets increasingly dark, juggling multiple plotlines including that of eccentric park creator, Dr Robert Ford – played by the incredible Anthony Hopkins – who is responsible for the hosts’ sudden ability to feel and remember. And it turns out, Westworld isn’t the only AI theme park that exists…
This show is absolutely gorgeous to look at, and saving the pennies is clearly at the bottom of the producers’ priority list. And somehow, despite having a fairly complicated premise with multiple plotlines and the details of a dystopia to keep up with, the story is completely captivating, and dances the line between complex and unfollowable. However, like so many of these kind of intricate series, it has decreased in quality slightly over the seasons.
Season one, however, was a hit, with The Guardian’s Tim Dowling saying it’s “a seamless marriage of western and dystopian sci-fi corporate thriller,” adding “the special effects are as expensive-looking as you might imagine, but it’s still the story that keeps you hooked, to the extent that a young woman swatting a fly on her face is the jaw-dropping moment of episode one.” Season two had the same success, but with slightly more criticism in the reviews, with Ed Power of The Telegraph saying “Westworld is high nonsense,” calling it “baffling, bonkers, occasionally brilliant.” This confusion carried on into the third and most recent instalment, The Independent’s Ed Cumming saying of its characters, “They might be sophisticated and beautiful robots with killer wardrobes, but it is hard to shake the suspicion that they are, on some level, Roombas on legs… but when it’s this much fun, and looks this good, who cares?”
First shown October 2016. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.