Westworld review: Episodes 1-4

WestThrones. NO! Westworld. That’s the title of this latest HBO drama extravaganza. Although, the other HBO fantasy blockbuster still casts a huge shadow over anything trying to live up to its potential.

 

It’s been made quite clear from the bosses of the American network that this was not the next Game of Thrones. And why should it be? If people want Game of Thrones, then they can watch Game of Thrones. But that in itself poses a problem. The fact that, that show is so good is perhaps stopping people from enjoying what Westworld is trying to be.

What that is precisely, is a science-fiction thriller set between two worlds: a futuristic robot-building company and the Wild West of 19th century America. Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, the show tells the story of a company who have created a virtual reality theme park set in the Wild West. The company then populate the park with thousands of robots which they have built as entertainment for guests (i.e. human beings) to do what they please in a land with no consequences. From this materialises questions over matters such as human morality and the grey area of artificial intelligence which amongst other themes, makes for gripping drama.

TV soundtracks aren’t always regarded as being an integral part of the show. However, an iconic soundtrack and credit sequence can be the key to launching a show into the stratosphere of popularity. Westworld have Ramin Djawadi on board, the mastermind behind the sounds of Game of Thrones. Ramin has certainly worked his magic again. The title music and the soundtrack throughout the show settles the audience into the perfect mood for this intriguing show.

The ease with which the show can switch from the wild west to a hyper-modern lair of technology is satisfying for the viewer and the connectivity between the two worlds gives the show a polished look. The R rated material in this show does seem a tad forced, especially when we see a close up shot of a man’s face being blown apart by a bullet. However, this will be down to people’s personal preferences so no huge cause for concern there.

Now that the scene has been set, more character development and well-driven plotlines need to be front and centre of the dark science fiction thriller. A few characters have already made their mark on the show, like Evan Rachels Wood’s portrayal of Dolores and the compassionate character of William, played by Jimmi Simpson. In episode 4, we see conflicts arising and an overarching mystery explored deeper by Ed Harris’ shady character. There has also been great dialogue exploring deep and meaningful ideas which will hopefully continue to develop as we journey our way through the 10-episode series.

All-in-all, Westworld has had a solid start and HBO’s usual audience have taken to it very well. However, it has a lot to prove if it’s to escape the ever-growing shadow of that other violent, thrilling, sexy show. You know the one.

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