Based on the movie with the same name, this HBO series bangs out a smashing rendition of the original, staying true to the essence while extrapolating every facet to include the nuances of artificial intelligence and machine learning as we know them today. It is no small feat this one, seeing as the movie primarily focuses on the drama/character portrayals but using the concept of sentient beings in a primal form. In the movie’s defense, there really wasn’t much room to play around with the nuances of androids in the 70s, hence the focus on people and emotions — drama.
Now, this is where things get really interesting, because the creators (Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy) are hell bent on bringing out the structured consciousness that the androids are beginning to put together themselves — kind of consciousness of consciousness, if you will — all the while staying true to the drama angle. Not to worry, knowing that the sentient beings will develop deeper “feelings” about their environment, and reality doesn’t really spoil the plot. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, and actually helps with preparing oneself for a cerebral rollercoaster ride that gets more enjoyable — and comfortable — as the episodes meld into one another.
The premise is simple — playing cowboy in the Wild Wild West which is populated by androids who let you win. But things go wrong when the said androids begin to “malfunction”.
Thoroughly enjoyable from every angle, the series keeps you guessing who’s doing what and why they’re doing it. It is rife with plot twists and a very realistic “development” of consciousness by the androids, as the characters on screen develop in a more intuitive and “human” sense. Something we can all relate to in this day and age, when everyone is wary of the very real dangers of having the artificial intelligence we have created ourselves get out of our control, all the while secretly being intrigued by developments in the field of machine learning to a point of wonder and excitement.
The main characters are immaculately cast, with Ed Harris playing the role of the seasoned wild west visitor, Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible 2), the ethereal Evan Rachel Wood playing Dolores — designed to perfection, and Anthony Hopkins as the mastermind creator of the park with his own toolkit of dark secrets. Spectacular drama unfolds as an almost haunting piano tune plays in the background (soon becoming the trademark/instantly recognisable factor of the show), all the while drawing the audience into an ever-expanding imaginative state, guessing and applying logical reasoning to the possibilities of artificial intelligence in this new era of computing.
I found the screenplay to be lacking in the sense that it ought to be — just enough to keep the creative juices flowing and not too cerebral — making for a borderline “light watch.” It’s one of those incredibly addictive shows that is almost interactive (like a video game) by virtue of the world of possibilities that it opens up as the storyline gains traction and launches into a full frontal showdown that sends the viewer into a delirious state of awe, speculation and the urgent desire to Google “AI Ted Talk.”
Did you know?
Westworld shares a big connection with Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton wrote and directed the 1973 Westworld film. Many fans noticed similarities (both stories are about theme parks with futuristic attractions that go bonkers and attack the guests), which makes a lot of sense when you know they both come from the mind of the same author.
STAR RATING: 4.5 on 5
MUST-WATCH: If you’re into exploring the boundaries of current human technology and the promise of its horizons getting further away the faster one seems to be approaching it, then this show is for you. Head to the hills, find a burrow (with electricity) & binge away!
— The writer is a coffee roaster, vaping enthusiast, cinema buff and seeker of