Westworld is not a film we were expecting to get a remake anytime soon. 1973’s feature marked the first time author Michael Crichton directed, more importantly directed an adaptation based on one of his works. Maybe you’ve heard this one before- company with a grand vision creates an amusement park with GRAND scale attractions and thinks nothing could possiBLIGH go wrong. (little Simpsons humor there)
The original film starred Yul Brynner as the man in black Gunslinger, and received more than marginal warm critical reviews, as it is now arguably one of the “must see” sci fi classics of the 70’s. Very ahead of it’s time, and probably why HBO wanted to give it the ol Game of Thrones treatment, although that means someone didn’t think the original was very good and thought they could improve on it (opinion, not fact).
Instead of calling it a ‘red band’ trailer, HBO calls it “the mature version”:
2016’s version brings together a pretty stellar cast; Ed Harris as the Gunslinger, Sir Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Robert Ford (lead programmer of the AI), Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe (another lead programmer), James Marsden as Teddy Flood, and Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy.
I could make some jokes about Marsden and Wood playing good automatons, and as far as the pilot is concerned, they do. I’m not overly fond of either of them as actors, but they play off each other well in the Westworld Groundhog Day of it all.
There are some beautiful visuals in the first episode, sweeping vistas of nature brought to viewers by either really good drone pilots or a steady AF helicopter cameraman.
My favorite moments so far are the scenes that take place in the warehouse. The cold storage sequence is haunting and beautiful, as well as the building of the automatons in the Vitruvian Man position. Clearly an advert for 3d printers.
It’s nice to see HBO being able to reuse some of it’s Game of Thrones set pieces, like the Hall of Faces. (I’m kidding, but only mostly)
The series has promise, although I do dislike the notion that science fiction needs the “Game of Thrones” treatment like so many of the big reviewing sites are claiming. Clearly they aren’t watching things like 12 Monkeys. Westworld DOES have some pretty gritty violent stuff in the first episode alone, faces being shot off and blood letting by the bucketfull. Also plenty of nudity for those viewers interested in such things.
The story alone should be enough to keep viewers interested, although the pacing at times bordered on sluggish. I’m fully expecting things to pick up as the storyline unfolds.
SCORE: 7.5 OUT OF 10, will continue watching
Westworld premiered on Sunday October 2nd on HBO, and will continue airing on Sundays until the end of the first season.