HBO's Westworld: A Spoiler-Free Review
A TV series remake of the 1973 film "Westworld" has finally premiered this past Sunday on HBO after what seems like years of speculation. The show was developed by Jonathan Nolan (yes, Christopher Nolan's brother) and Lisa Joy, has J. J. Abrams as an executive producer, and assembled a cast that includes Anthony Hopkins.
It's no secret that "Westworld" is being billed by critics as an evident substitute to "Game of Thrones," which is coming to an end. HBO is actually in need of a new hit, as not only "Thrones" is coming to an end, but also "Girls" and "The Leftovers." Other shows such as "Veep" and "Silicon Valley" seem to do well with critics, but did not catch on as mainstream hits.
"Westworld" has the same dark, realistic, and epic components as "Game of Thrones," but it is more sci-fi than fantasy. Essentially, the concept of Westworld is that it is an alternate reality amusement park for very rich people to do whatever they want inside. The 'hosts' inside this park are all hyper-realistic robots who are there to please those very rich visitors (called 'newcomers'). But here's the catch: the 'hosts' don't seem to know that they're just props in a fake world.
Dolores Abernathy, one of the robotic 'hosts,' is played by Evan Rachel Wood and presented as a clear protagonist from the very start. She seems to be just a small town romantic, but we're able to sense that there's something off about her.
Dolores' romantic counterpart is Teddy Flood, played by James Marden. It was interesting to see a male character who, in the pilot, seemed to only be in the show to serve as a romantic interest to Dolores. I believe it was a clever wink from the writers, since female characters are usually the ones who only exist to please a male counterpart.
On the management side of the Westworld park, there's the sort of Head IT Guy character Bernard Lowe, played by Jeffrey Wright, who is basically the same character that we saw Wright play on "Hunger Games: Catching Fire."
There's also Theresa Cullen, played by Sidse Babett Knudsen, who is so far the person who seems to actually make decisions and run the whole Westworld thing. She has quite a few bad ass moments.
And then there's also the great Anthony Hopkins, who plays Dr. Robert Ford, the creator and maker of all the hyper-realistic animatronics. He seems like a pretty romantic guy for being a 'science dude.' We can also definitely feel his sense of nostalgia for the 'old days'.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention Rodrigo Santoro, an amazing Brazilian actor that I've admired my entire life back in Brazil, who is making one more stride towards his Hollywood career. Rodrigo has landed roles on both "300" movies, season 3 of "Lost," "Charlie's Angels," "Love Actually," and, most recently, on the Will Smith movie "Focus." He plays a 'host' bandit called Hector Escaton.
The pilot for "Westworld" was incredibly well executed and I can't wait to see where this TV series can go. If you want to get on board this train, catch it on HBO every Sunday at 9pm.