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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Westworld Review: Tin Men and Wire Trees.

I got one question for you, would you want to follow an act like Game of Thrones? No. No you wouldn't. It's the biggest hit in HBO history and one of the most beloved shows of the past decade. If you go into Westworld expecting to be grabbed like Thrones,  you're probably going to be disappointed. You need to dial back your expectations a bit.

The characters aren't as witty, the themes are more heavy handed, and there's a few dull main characters to sit through. In fact, after watching both episodes I had kinda written them off as a "7". An inoffensive but lacking "7". But seeing as I might have been a bit too intoxicated on the first viewing, I watched them both again. It's weird, but I liked the show almost twice as much the second time around.

Even when he's just showing up for a paycheck, he's more compelling than any of us could ever hope to be.

I began to understand character motivations clearer, the script was smarter than I gave it credit for, there's a good mystery swirling behind nearly every main plot line, and then the biggest thing clicked for me: this is all about video games. All of it.

All the engineers talk about are guest choices, interactive plot lines, and the logistics that keep them strung together. This is the first main stream/big budget... anything exclusively about game design. I'm not kidding around, almost half the show is about how the park works. I.E. philosophical discussions of mechanical souls and reworking the "Hosts" dialogue trees for new "narratives." Once I finally wrapped my head around that, my geeky little heart almost burst.

But there's more to it than that and I'm not just talking about the scrumptious vistas, robot shootouts, dust choked saloons, and uh... the scalpings. There's quick visual jokes like hosts breaking when a fly lands on them and the recurring theme of milk. Seriously, milk comes up. Like a lot. Also all the well worn Blade Runner stuff is acted and presented well enough so you won't cringe. I honestly can't tell if  all the Host facial ticks are cgi or not, because some of those misfit robots are so well acted that I could be convinced it's all in the performance. That "meet my maker" scene in particular was a barnstormer.

So yeah, I'm on board for now. Ed Harris is a spectacular Man in Black (and he looks like he's having one hell of a retirement party) Evan Rachel Wood is playing the girl next door at the moment but will probably be a Sonny-esque liberator. She's also great. Jeffrey Wright and Mr. Hopkins are... well at least you know what you're getting with them.

For better or worse, this is the most interesting thing on TV right now. Outside of politics*, anyway.

I'm a "skim" man, myself.



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