WestworLd Season One
Gunsmoke and mirrors
released OUT NOW! 2016 | 15 | 4k Blu-ray/Blu-ray/dVd Creators Jonathan Nolan, lisa Joy Cast anthony Hopkins, evan rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, ed Harris
With HBO casting about for something to fill the void when Game Of Thrones eventually wraps up, a philosophical reboot of a ’70s Michael Crichton technopotboiler might not seem the logical choice. Yet in the hands of Person Of Interest’s Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (a veteran of Pushing Daisies), Westworld is a fascinating exploration of man’s inherent cruelty.
Beautifully shot, it’s a series worth watching and dissecting. Its attention to Western detail is without question – no greenscreen soundstages for its vistas, captured in the sorts of places John Ford once shot. The cast is uniformly excellent, chewing through dialogue that switches between cowboy drawls and robotic English (for the Hosts) and a blend of wonder and snark (the humans) with poise and skill. Of particular note are Evan Rachel Wood, who juggles a complicated role and real emotion; Jeffrey Wright, typically great as conflicted techie Bernard; and Thandie Newton as Maeve, who’s far from the basic saloon madam she appears at first glance. Anthony Hopkins, meanwhile, is both mysterious and mercurial as Dr Robert Ford, one of the big brains behind the place, with Ed Harris all growly menace as the mysterious Man In Black. The setting allows the storytellers to kill some of their characters with abandon, though they always make the experience count, adding layers to the narrative each time. Plus, while Thrones prefers to keep its themes in the subtext, this show allows the characters to ponder big ideas out loud.
Westworld is by no means perfect; all of that windy hypothesising can grate, even when someone as accomplished as Hopkins is voicing it. While the show clearly wants to spin mysteries and keep you guessing, a lot of what is to come can be guessed before the big reveal. And for all its forward-thinking attitudes (especially where the likes of Maeve are concerned), there remain moments of gratuitous violence and nudity.
Yet for the most part, Westworld spins a compelling web of ideas and action; though it may never replace Game Of Thrones in viewers’ affections, hopefully it will get the chance to expound upon them for several seasons to come.
Extras New to this release are a piece which follows the showrunners on set during the first week of filming (11 minutes); a featurette on making the title sequence (13 minutes); and another on the use of the player piano (eight minutes); plus the 2017 Comic-Con panel and a short gag reel. Another two featurettes are carried over from the previous digital release – as are a bunch of online promos, including seven “The Big Moment” featurettes, focusing on particular scenes.
The park’s central hub, Sweetwater, is named after a key location in Sergio Leone western Once Upon A Time In The West.
Westworld has its fans.