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Blu-ray/DVD Review: Westworld Season 1

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Michael Crichton’s 1973 Westworld is a sci-fi classic and a favourite of mine. When I heard that HBO were working on a TV adaptation I wasn’t sure what to think. Then I heard that Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins were involved and the excitement started building. Then I finally saw the show and was blown away by it. They took a great concept and made it even better.

The show is described as a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, it explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged. How does that translate to the small screen? Rather well actually.

For the TV show, Westworld has been open for a few decades. The robots, or Hosts, are there to ensure the Guests (the humans) have a great time. Whether that involves gunfights, treasure hunts, robbing banks, or sex, the Hosts are there to cater to the every wish of the Guest. The fact that a Host cannot harm a Guest means everything is hunky dory. Behind the scenes are many people working to ensure the park runs smoothly and that the Hosts work as they should.

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The Hosts do not know they are robots. They have been given memories to ensure they have a sense of self, but their programming means they ignore any mention of the real world. Each morning they wake as if it is the same day even though they may have been shot numerous times or had other terrible things done to them. They are taken in for repairs and memory wipes whenever they are needed. That’s the thing with a theme park like Westworld. The guests are told they can do whatever they want and so some do the dark things that they have tried to keep hidden out in the real world.

Some of the Hosts have been in the park since the beginning, but have played many parts. Whenever a new storyline is created, some Hosts are retasked. If they start showing any faults they are taken out of the park and put into storage.

Seeing things from the viewpoint of the Host makes you realise what a dreadful existence they would have. Killed, maimed or raped over and over again at the whim of the Guests only to have everything reset for the next day is horrific and when the virus, computer error or whatever it is kicks in some hosts begin to remember the events they have gone through and the things they have lost.

There is a lot going on in the show and the first episode was a bit all over the place simply due to the amount of characters and story lines involved. Everyone seems to have a hidden agenda and just when you think you have a handle on things you learn something new or a new character is introduced that makes you question everything. Are the Hosts beginning to malfunction due to the update, human error, industrial sabotage or some darker reason? However, it soon settles down and takes you on an incredible journey.

Plus when you have this cast – Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Ben Barnes, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Clifton Collins, Jr., Luke Hemsworth, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Simon Quarterman, Rodrigo Santoro, Angela Sarafyan, Jimmi Simpson, Tessa Thompson and Shannon Woodward – you know it is going to have great acting.

As the show continues we learn more about the park and how it operates. We see what Guests go through to get there and what goes on behind the scenes. It all looks stunning. While the episodes I watched were still unfinished in terms of CGI that did not take anything away from it. The shots in Westworld itself are beautiful and would be welcome in any classic Western, while behind the scenes everything is dark with glass walls, spotlights and lots of naked Hosts. A great juxtaposition that works well. We also see deeper levels of the park that seem like abandoned parts of other, older buildings. Nothing in Westworld is what it seems.

The extras take us behind the scenes and show the huge amount of work that goes into the show.

4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY AND DVD SPECIAL FEATURES*

  • Inside Look with Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy – Season One (New Featurette)
  • Imagining the Main Title (New Featurette)
  • The Key to The Chords (New Featurette)
  • 2017 Comic Con Panel (New)
  • Gag reel (New)
  • “The Big Moment” Featurettes
  • Welcome to Westworld
  • Crafting the Narrative
  • An Invitation to The Set
  • Welcome to Westworld: About the Series
  • Reality of A.I.: Westworld

Westworld is well worth a watch and I highly recommend it.

WESTWORLD: SEASON ONE which is available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD now.

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