westworld

HBO’s ‘Westworld’ wows

Apr 24 • Arts & Leisure • 737

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BENJAMIN HAYLETT
staff writer

The second season of HBO’s newest hit show “Westworld” premiered Sunday, making this the perfect time to binge watch all of season one.
“Westworld” is a television series reboot of a movie of the same title that came out in 1973. Its screenwriter and director was Michael Crichton, the famed author who penned the “Jurassic Park” novels.
Both the film and the television show take place in an amusement park named Westworld that is owned by the Delos Corporation, where the extremely rich can afford to live out their Wild West fantasies by completely immersing themselves in acres upon acres of a replica frontier setting.
The park is occupied by extremely realistic humanoid robots called hosts, who carry out the park visitor’s every whim.
When the hosts begin malfunctioning, the park’s reputation and the lives of the visitors are both put in grave danger.
If you think this plot sounds similar at all to “Jurassic Park,” you would be half right.
On the surface, the original film and the novel for “Jurassic Park” are very similar, as a small group of park visitors must band together to get out of the park alive.
The television show on the other hand delves into themes the film does not even touch upon.
Since the hosts essentially have artificial intelligence, the morality of keeping them bound to the park forever to be slaughtered by the guests is brought into question by many of the main characters.
Provocative arguments are made in favor of the rights of these seemingly conscious beings throughout the season, which culminates in a last episode reveal that left me absolutely gobsmacked.
I would say that for a lot of people, myself included, the thought of whether machines could actually be considered alive is an abstract notion, but when these messages of what it truly means to be alive are sandwiched within a world of talented actors and rich storytelling the conclusions drawn by the characters are explained in more digestible chunks.
My personal favorite performance in all of season one came from Sir Anthony Hopkins, who plays Thomas Ford, the founder and owner of Westworld.
As per usual, Hopkins’ performance is brought to the screen with such conviction and passion that it is absolutely impossible to not want to hang on to his every word.
Evan Rachel Wood and Ed Harris also provide some of their best work to date on the show, but still cannot hold a candle to Hopkins.
And for those who really do not care about anything I just talked about, Westworld follows in the footsteps of other HBO mainstays like “The Sopranos” and “Game of Thrones” and boasts copious amounts of gratuitous violence.
This is a side of the wild west that typically is not shown, and to be honest, it is kind of refreshing to see the frontier more accurately as though the audience is seeing the action directly through the eyes of those who actually lived it as opposed to the camp and cheesiness that can normally accompany traditional Westerns.
If it has not become clear yet, HBO’s “Westworld” has quickly become one of my favorite television shows.
While I realize that it definitely is not for everyone, it offers a great new take on the genre that I grew up watching with my dad.
I also realize that everyone does not have an HBO subscription, but I am willing to bet that if you ask around you will most definitely find a friend who will loan you his or her password.
And if worse comes to worst, you can try the free trial of HBO NOW and just binge the entire first season like I did. I guarantee you will not regret it.

BENJAMIN HAYLETT
haylett001@knights.gannon.edu

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