Critical Condition: Westworld

Westworld: SoHo, 2.00/8.30 Monday


“A beautifully restored old train deposits visitors in Sweetwater, a manufactured Old West town and the central settlement within Westworld, the role-playing resort in which paying customers can bring their most elaborate fantasies to life, setting out on frontier adventures or staying in the saloons to whoop it up. But like a train, this drama runs on predictable tracks, and no matter how luxurious the trappings of the journey, the destination is obvious from miles away. Westworld looks terrific; its directors have shot its Western locations to stunning effect. But its warmly saturated outdoor scenes and its surface slickness aren’t enough to mask the indecision, condescension, and hollowness at its core.” — Variety.

“Unlike Game of ThronesWestworld isn’t based on a widely known property with a rich mythology. Its first season wrings 10 episodes from a cult 1973 sci-fi flick written and directed by Michael Crichton, which didn’t crack the 90-minute mark. Show creators Jonathan and Lisa Joy Nolan freely and confidently build out a narrative that considers, from its first moments, the meaning of human consciousness. Is a mind created by humans really a mind? Can it be mistreated. It’s the finesse with which the show handles these heavy questions that will keep me coming back, but it’s also worth noting that the garish spectacle is rendered expertly.” — Time.

“The storytelling is so layered, so dense, so self-reflexive, it can be opaque and overwhelming. I confess that the glib bloodshed of the first two episodes left me cold. There are shoot-outs, rogue killing sprees, scalpings, stabbings, and sexual assaults. One criticism of Westworld is that it wants to have it all ways. It asks questions about entertaining with violence, but make no mistake, it is violent entertainment. For me, the ambition and quality of the meta earned the excess and made the familiarity interesting.” — Entertainment Weekly.

“This ambitious, intriguing reimagining is packed with more ideas than initially meet the eye … Westworld as a series is a big idea with more mythology than a handful of episodes truly uncover — which is a positive sign. It’s better to be difficult than to be flimsy and disappointingly easy to figure out. The challenges in Westworld make it worth the investment.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

“Visually, Westworld is a gorgeous and occasionally captivating treat, yet it’s wrapped up in a story that is astringent and sterile … I’m therefore hesitant to write Westworld off as a dreary trot from start to finish; parts of it are as imaginative and intriguing as anything that’s been on TV recently, particularly in the sci-fi realm. It’s definitely not the cyborg Deadwood that some HBO fans were actively wishing for, nor does it roll out the welcome mat as a riveting, accessible adventure.” — The Washington Post.

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13 Responses to “Critical Condition: Westworld”

  1. All that I can say is, the first ep was bloody brilliant!

  2. My wife wasn’t overly impressed with it. Too much violence. Must watch the original movie if I can find it on a PPV site.

  3. I agree that the first ep was great. A writer on the NZ Herald site was very critical of this show.

  4. IMDB rating of this show is 9.3

  5. If you read the comments they are suggesting that the ratings have been jacked up by paid reviewers.

  6. All I can say it was bloody awful – a mishmash of hokey sci-fi, even a dash of the old Dollhouse show. it really needs Yul Brynner. As bad as the Prisoner rehash from a few years back.

  7. Being slightly off topic, it’s good to see TV3 are teasing season 2 of Humans so it can’t be too far away 🙂

  8. It may be the last Monday in October, Trevor. Channel 4 in the UK doesn’t appear to have announced when it will start, other than this month, and TV3 is looking to drop its Monday movie and replace with two hours of series drama from the end of the month.

  9. That’s wonderful news Philip. TV3 should double bill it with Frequency 🙂

  10. I’m afraid that won’t be possible, Trevor — Frequency’s a Warner Bros production that’s TVNZ-bound.

  11. OOPS, I mean’t Timeless 😉

  12. Hi Philip, I just noticed Frequency is on Netflix so it’s not TVNZ bound YIPPEE … if only they would put on Timeless 🙂

  13. Thanks, Trevor. That’s most surprising. Because (1) it’s a WB show that normally would have gone to TVNZ first; and (2) Netflix didn’t list it among the October premieres they provide media. Appreciate the heads-up.

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