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Life’s Too Short: Westworld (2016 -)

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Have You Ever Questioned Your Taste In Series?

The 1973 Westworld was not a good movie by any means, yet its promise of an exclusive resort where guests are allowed to unleash their dark side on a population of androids retained its suggestive power for more than four decades and here we are again, now than technological progress has enabled the writers to deal a bit more credibly with the engineering such a sophisticated project implies. So we get 3D printing, to be short, and it makes for a deft title sequence.

This title sequence lists an impressive casting, including Ed Harris (yeah!) and Sir Anthony Hopkins (hmm, yeah). Evan Rachel Woods plays the lead, and James Marsden looks hot in cowboy gear. So far so good, but. There is a trifecta of talents at work on the creation of this series: Michael Crichton (obviously), JJ Abrams and Jonathan Nolan, brother of Christopher and writer of many things, unfortunately including Interstellar. It’s very hard to think than anything other that vastly frustrating will emerge from this particular conjunction, and the first line of dialogue sends a shiver down your spine: “Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?”. Oh dear God, here they go again. And then again.

It starts much better than the movie in a sense that we are directly projected into Westworld, without an inanimate guest processing prologue. We all know that there are guests and there are hosts, but who’s who is not immediately obvious and one guesses the following episodes will rely heavily on that. The big difference is hosts can’t hurt the newcomers, as they call the guests, who can do all they want to the hosts. One suspects Donald Trump has invested in this resort, sounds like a sure winner.

And from the start, it bugs. There are pokes taken to a new programme called “Reverie” (will you let go of Inception already?), there is some corporate mumbo jumbo, some leering at violence, a herd of sheep used as a metaphor for a love story and a lesbian curtly stating that “a hooker with hidden depths is every man’s dream”. Well said, lady, should we go explore this unchartered abyss?

One’s suspicion is that a mix of The Truman Show and Groundhog Day is not very auspicious a departure point for a TV series. It’s like time travel and parallel universes combined and as everyone knows by now, those are a disaster in the making. On top of that, the androids are obviously acquiring a conscience, escaping the clutch of their masters, so the God issue is looming around the corner. Add to that a warehouse full of decommissioned robots vaguely reminiscent of a concentration camp, except that said robots have been repaired to pristine condition before being stocked there, and you seriously start to question Westworld‘s business model. One means, those things must cost a lot, right?

There is a cool massacre scene set on a catching Paint It Black cover, because why not, now that HBO and Mick Jagger are best buddies. Otherwise, if Westworld demonstrates anything, it’s that stock dialogue always work and that Sir Anthony Hopkins can be Shakespearian in a morgue. But you know, life’s too short for watching an MPG without playing it.

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