Westworld – Episodes 2 and 3

We’ve now had three episodes of “Westworld,” and it is turning into an excellent Philip K. Dick-ian nightmare of a show. We are now seeing a dichotomy between humans who are curious about the androids and treat them humanely, and humans who want to exploit them for profit, sexual gratification, or indulging whatever sick violent fantasies they might have. Anthony Hopkins’s character seems kind and grandfatherly at first glance but by the end of the third episode his insistence that the robots have no human qualities seems quite sinister. For example, his order that the androids should not be covered when they’re nude is disturbing.

Evan Rachel Wood’s character has become interesting with her “Alice in Wonderland”-type storyline. She is seeking to become “real” by having new experiences. How this ties in with Ed Harris’ Man in Black will be interesting to see. Her character arc seems to tie in with Illuminati rites, which is very unusual for this sort of show. Will she turn on her creators as she discovers her plight?

The end of the third episode is really amazing where the scientists discover the android immolating himself and, by implication, his followers in brutal fashion with a boulder. Why would an android do this? It will be interesting to find out.

It was really fascinating watching the back-stories for the androids being created. This is way beyond anything in the original film by Michael Crichton, which was basically a western with a sci-fi twist. Here we see how everything works, which will bore some but not me.

Thandie Newton’s character as the whore who is failing at seducing the customers and may be destroyed because of it is the show’s major flaw. I do not understand where they are going with her role and it seems sexist.

Jeffrey Wright’s character is finally coming into focus and he is looking like the protagonist of the show. He has much more scientific curiosity than Hopkins’s character does and we will see if that leads to good or ill. He has a very strong character arc and I have always felt he is an underrated actor. Will he find the redemption he seeks for having lost his son?

Finally, this business about Hopkins’s deceased and more scientifically curious partner Arnold is potentially a barnburner. Why are the androids apparently having conversations with him? Where will this lead? Is Arnold’s hypothesis that the androids can be human correct and, if so, what will the consequences be?

If you can’t tell already, this show has the potential to be much better than “Game of Thrones.” Whereas that show seems to be slickly packaged sex and violence, this one is promising to explore serious moral and scientific issues while still providing lots of sex and violence. For that reason, I am recommending the show to everyone and plan to watch and cover the entire first season. Sexbot fans unite! -CoolAC

westworld3

Westworld’s Sexbot Mayhem

west5

Sexbot fans unite! HBO’s “Westworld” is finally here! As a reboot of Michael Crichton’s classic but hideously dated 1973 film, it works pretty well, but it’s not without some problems. The music score lacks distinction, and eventually climaxes in a bad orchestral version of “Paint it Black.” Also, although the whole cast is good, Anthony Hopkins as the creator of Westworld and Ed Harris as the Man in Black are so good that they tend to blow everyone off the screen.

Now, on to the good stuff! There is lots of action. Evan Rachel Wood, one of the most beautiful actresses working today, is solid in the lead as an understandably confused android. The show moves quickly in the first episode and addresses some very interesting hot-button issues such as: What is our responsibility to robotic humanoids we create? Do they have real feelings? Do they feel pain? Is their apparent impending rebellion against humans justified? Do the vacationing humans enjoying the robots deserve to have the tables turned on them? If future episodes continue to address these issues, this could be a great show. The pilot is a solid watch but not a classic. Long live sexbots! –CoolAC

Westworld Premiere Mixed Bag

westworld3 poster for the new film

The trailers for the premiere of this show promised a lot of existential plot elements, plus lots of sex, and violence. So far, in its premiere, the focus was mostly on violence. It is filmed a bit too modern, like a Guy Ritchie film (but a bit more serious). This show would seemingly do better to move at a slower pace and build more suspense, with less predictability. Michael Camino would have made the best director for this series, had he not passed away. There is also a lack of character development here.

The story involves a futuristic a tourist trap, complete with humanoid cowboys, bandits, sheriffs, and hookers. Its a bit too predictable that things will go wrong. A-Hop (my nickname for Anthony Hopkins) does an excellent job with his role, and is very captivating. This is because he is unsympathetic as the robot’s creator. And that makes him seem realistic . However, the script misdirects him by having him say the name of the female he is speaking with in his accent (too many times), and it comes off as ripping of his Silence of the Lambs role.

Ed Harris plays the sheriff’s role ( that Yule Brenner played in the old version). He maintains a strong screen presence, with his usual charisma, and steel jawed resolve. It would have been better to give him more thoughtful lines in the premiere, instead of overly-focusing on his violence (like a Tarentino film).

The robots predictably begin malfunctioning ( too soon in the episode) , and the park managers are into greed instead of safety ( predictably). And the series is pointing in the direction of the park’s robots realizing they have a bum deal, with them getting ready to revolt. But perhaps a less predictable plot would have been for a human and a bot to fall in love and lead a peaceful protest or something – and then they get shot down or broken into parts – and the other bots revolt. This original pilot gave away too much too early on in the series. And its too big on death and violence, and not big enough on sex , relationships, and power struggles.

Also it is clearly dumb for A-Hop to be meeting his bots face to face and telling them he is their creator. I say this because its well known that famous studies from Brookings Institute showed that this type of confrontation causes mass insanity. The A-Hop character would have known this and would have used more precaution in real life.
The notion of what one would do if confronted with the reality they are captive, and a creation of scientific experiment was much more thoroughly and interestingly depicted in the recent Hollywood flop “Morgan”. Morgan got straight to the heart of nature vs. nurture issue. And it got to the point about survival instincts in (slaves) robots and computers being a threat to their (masters) humans.

Especially aggravating is the re-hashing of the Rolling Stones “Paint it Black” as a stuffy Baroque sounding score. Its a disservice to modern composers that films never come up with decent original scores anymore (its a sign of our civilization declining along with the rest of music culture sucking ass too). Also there was a lack of sexual fantasy, and the women on the show were not hot enough.

Overall. this show still remains very intriguing. It has some great cinematography, plus some top notch acting. I hope that it is able to maintain a focus on sex, survival, social programming, and epistemology. While the series is a bit of a mixed bag so far, the series is very compelling in the regard that it is highly focused on the dark sides of human nature, as well as the downsides of capitalism- greed and power. And that individuality and empathy are not valued in a futuristic society. Indeed, humanity itself is not valued in a futuristic society either, according to Westworld. The humanity of the robots in the park, and the conscience of the tourists are all subverted to a new technological order. –Steve

west1poster for the old film