Monday, January 16, 2017

Westworld: A Special Review

This is a special review for a number of reasons:

  1. I haven't reviewed an individual TV show for quite some time.
  2. It made a strong impression but was too unfavorable to be featured on my "best of" list, but too important too be relegated to a single line in the "also enjoyed" list. 
I was a moderate fan of the movie. This was better than I expected but still annoying and troublesome.

My favorite thing about Westworld was Evan Rachel Wood. She adds much necessary radiance to a dark and nasty show.

Evan Rachel Wood.
Rebuttal: Darkness and nastiness is kind of the point. This is not fun, this is artificial intelligence as slaves, sometimes sex slaves. Serious subjects justify a serious tone.

Yeah, but look at serious shows like Breaking Bad and The Sopranos, which manage plenty of humor.

My second favorite thing about Westworld was Thandie Newton. I haven't watched anything with Thandie Newton in a long time, or so it seems, and she certainly hasn't made this strong of an impression on me ever.

Thandie Newton.
My third favorite thing about this is Jeffrey Wright, whose role recalls his turn as Rutledge in Source Code.

Then I love that big screen giants Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris are in this.

Ed Harris (left) and Anthony Hopkins (right).
And the production values are quite good. Most of what I like so far is quite superficial though. As I said before, this show is quite nasty.

Throughout the show, characters used the F-word to a nauseating degree. These days, it seems that "fucking," in particular,  has become the new "um" or "uh" or "you know." It's just verbal filler these days. Can't these people communicate themselves without this crude repetition.

Another thing this show lacks is humor, or even simple lightness. This material demands some lightness and humor. Can't the writers convey sincerity and lighten the tone at the same time, now and then?

It is also very claustrophobic in spite of the huge park and the huge operations facility. All these characters, machines and people, are trapped. Indeed, this trapping is largely thematic and intentional but the audience needs to breathe, and the characters need to as well. Seeing the park juxtaposed with the outside world would provide moments of much needed breath. For now, it's all too insular.

This show is a study of rape (simulated), mutilation, and cruelty. I, however, question how much fun people can have at this place, and the people who are having fun aren't worth our attention.

Hopefully season two brings revelations and major tonal shifts that make this a more rewarding experience. For the time being, it's intriguing video wallpaper to check my social media by.

Make no mistake, this is the best and most promising show of 2016 that I didn't really like. Hopefully, next time I'll enjoy it more and include it with my top recommendations.

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