Westworld, the new sci-fi drama series from HBO, promises to explore the current human fascination and dependency on technology, while exposing what our darkest desires are without having any consequence.
Of course the series is getting the HBO treatment, meaning more sex, more violence, and more shockers than the original film.
The series is actually an updated reboot of the kitschy 1973 film of the same name, originally written and directed by Michael Crichton. Yes, the same mastermind who created an entirely new and engrossing world of dinosaurs known as Jurassic Park.
ComicBook.com editor-in-chief Dallas Jackson explains why Crichton is a mastermind of unique world-building:
"If we are judging a portfolio it is hard to look at what Michael Crichton has done in his career and think anyone is better," Jackson said. "From when he first came out with Andromeda Strain in the 1960s through what we are seeing with the Jurassic Park franchise and all spaces in between, Crichton is a genius across numerous creative platforms"
Although the theme park known as Westworld came years before Jurassic Park, there are similarities between the two. Crichton gives his human characters a way to explore their deep-seated fantasies - whether it’s walking with real live dinosaurs or having a hedonistic romp with multiple soiled doves in the Wild West.
Westworld is a pleasure-seeking theme park based on the Old Wild West. The “hosts” of the park are actually realistic androids with zero consciousness who have been programmed to grant the visiting patrons their every desire. After all, those who visit the park are paying $40,000 a day for the ultimate sinful experience.
The theme park is run and created by a rather menacing Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) who is responsible for keeping everything under control by erasing any cognitive processes from the robots.
The androids pose as outlaws, blacksmiths, bartenders, cowboys, and of course, prostitutes. There are no rules for patrons - they can murder and sexually assault their blood-stained hosts, all while throwing back the brown juice and riding bucking broncos.
Sounds like a great time, right?
The main host is designed to be a girl-next-door stereotype (Evan Rachel Wood) who begins to show signs of memory and human emotion. Instead of brainwashing her, the parks programmer decides to care for her as she soon realizes her entire life is a manufactured lie.
Meanwhile, a psychopath known as The Man in Black (Ed Harris) is trying to uncover exactly how Westworld operates on a technological level. He’s not afraid to maim anyone in his way, either.
Chaos ensues, and in a fascinating approach to a narrative, we get to see everything occur through the eyes and minds of the androids. They initially have no idea of the existence of anything outside of their own world, or that they are even robots in the first place.
"The 'hosts' are discovering that they’ve been created in our image, but beginning to question if 'humanness' is really what they want to aspire to," Nolan explained to Entertainment Weekly. "And given their circumstances, it’s easy to understand why they start to question whether they want to be like us at all…"
While the show deals with various elements, the overarching theme explores what happens when humans try to play gods, our actions when there are no consequences, and ultimately what’s real and what’s not.
Even though the series is strictly sci-fi, the narrative is based on real-world issues. As humans, we are dangerously close to creating tech that one day could turn against us, and we struggle trying to figure out the meaning of our existence by grasping on to what we believe is real. Is the human race trying to play gods? Can our smart phones one day become smarter than us?
This is exactly why you need to watch Westworld – it’s a multilayered drama full of action, sex, and violence that forces us to think of the bigger picture in the background.
“As another day of fantasy plays out in Westworld – a vast, remote park where guests pay top dollar to share wild-west adventures with android “hosts” – top programmer Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) alerts park founder Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) about incidents of aberrant behavior cropping up in some recently re-coded hosts. Meanwhile, in the Westworld town of Sweetwater, a rancher’s daughter named Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) encounters a gunslinger named Teddy (James Marsden) in the street – but their predictable narrative is upended by the appearance of a ruthless Man in Black (Ed Harris) and, later, by a supporting host’s unscripted encounter with an artifact of the outside world.”
Get your chaps on and your six-shooters ready!
Westworld, from Jonathon Nolan, Lisa Joy, and J.J. Abrams will premiere on HBO on October 2.