Reviews

HBO’s Westworld Review

By: Avram Vargas

Geeks of Color was recently invited to a screening of HBO’s latest on-screen experience, Westworld. The ambitious new sci-fi series comes from brilliant and notable minds in the film industry. A television reboot of the 1973 film by the same name, it’s executively produced by J.J. Abrams (one of the best producers working today) and was co-created by members of the Nolan family. However, it’s not the usual Nolan duo you’re likely thinking of (brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan), but rather, Jonathan and his wife, Lisa Joy.

I’d heard incredibly positive praise for the series prior to the event, and there were many attendants mingling about the buzz during the exquisite reception. HBO created an engaging atmosphere for guests to immerse themselves into the series. Props and costumes from the show were on display, and attendees were able to visit Westworld through photos with detailed backdrop designs from the series. HBO truly delivered a magnificent experience to all those in attendance.

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After the 60 minute pilot screening, I have to say, the series truly delivers on the praise it’s garnered. The opening episode, directed by Jonathan himself, follows true Nolan fashion with an intellectual script and an appealing aesthetic to match the tones and themes of the project. Audiences are introduced to a futuristic theme park flooded with artificial intelligence beings known as “hosts.” Paid visitors of the park (referred to as “newcomers”) are free to do as they please or follow quest lines, akin to an open world video game. The only task of the hosts is to listen to the newcomers and make their adventure worthwhile, but as is expected for any narrative involving A.I., they start to become self-aware, through what seems to be a glitch.

 

However, the uniqueness of Westworld is that as the A.I. gain experiences within the park and are given (what is, in essence) humanity, we’re asked, are the newcomers losing their humanity? Are they becoming more robotic themselves? Their sole task becomes self-fulfillment and they do so devoid of any emotional resonance, due to the lack of consequences for their heinous actions. Does this make the humans more robotic and the “robots” more human? The show is set at a time period where humans have nearly reached the peak of their evolution; curing death is around the corner. Without going into spoilers, a discussion of natural selection comes into play — essentially mutations (or mistakes) allowing a living organism to evolve. With humans at peak evolution, and the hosts becoming more human by means of a glitch (a mistake, if you will), is it time for artificial intelligence to evolve to be the next living organisms of our planet? And are humans now the gods they so desire to be? These are my favorite questions raised during the screening, and they demonstrate only some of the rich themes at play.

There’s still so much more to explore in the pilot, such as the obsession of advanced technology for luxury, and defining slavery. Secrets of the organization behind Westworld are suggested, and there has to be more at play than just an amusement park. There’s a delightful sense of irony at the fact that the pilot premieres on the same weekend Sony is releasing their Virtual Reality headset, demonstrating the growing desire for created immersive worlds. Every day we reach one step closer to bringing Westworld to life. I highly recommend that everyone give the pilot a shot and see if the show will be worth your time. HBO has taken their time with this series and spent a large amount of money producing it, and it seems to be a large focus for their network coming forward. Thank you to HBO for reaching out to us for the lively event and allowing us to experience your new journey early! Geeks of Color looks forward to what comes forward from Westworld.

 

Edited by: Jose Figueroa (@mr_bowtie2 )

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Editor/podcast member of Geeks of Color geeksofcolor.co Twitter: @JJ_Avrams

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