‘Westworld’ series remake outshines original

Maria Eberhart, Staff writer

Based on the 1973 film of the same name, the newest big-budget drama series from HBO is an escapist fantasy that explores questions of consciousness and morality while playing on the familiar fear of artificial intelligence.

Westworld caters to the male elite who frequent the immersive theme park to fulfill a more primitive set of desires, from paying for prostitutes at the bar to saving a damsel in distress from a group of outlaws. What makes the faux Western town so hypnotic is the cast of meticulously crafted robots, referred to as hosts, whose programmed lines compose a complex storyline.

The park is the innovation of the eccentric Dr. Robert Ford, played effortlessly by Anthony Hopkins, whose constant updates to the hosts leave them progressively closer to sentient life. The newest update plagues the hosts with grim memories of past lives and the sneaking suspicion that all is not well in their quiet western town.

The nuanced performances from the actors playing the hosts accentuates their increasing consciousness.

The core of the show is centered around the oldest host in the park, Dolores Abernathy, played impeccably by Evan Rachel Wood. The gentle host whose programmed love of the charming gentleman Teddy Flood (James Marsden) evokes more sympathy than the cynical human engineers of Westworld and the ruthless guests.

HBO’s “Westworld” is a clever variation on the classic science-fiction concern for artificial consciousness. The show’s creators, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, shift the typical compassion for the human guests to the robotic hosts who suffer atrocities inflicted by the unrestrained tourists. The hosts, painted as innocent victims, capture the pity of viewers as a bored guest shoots an unaware cowboy sitting at the bar and cackles, “Now, that’s a f— vacation!”

“Westworld,” although posing provocative questions about consciousness and humanity, does not rid itself of the typical gruesome violence against women. But, this violence does contribute to the dark setting of Westworld and its market for how to entertain guests.

The show is a thought-provoking series that takes artificial intelligence farther than it has ever gone before.



“Westworld” airs at 9 p.m. every Sunday on HBO or online on HBO Go. The series will run 10 weeks until Dec. 4.