With Game of Thrones set to end after its eighth season in 2018 and Vinyl flaming out quicker than a one-hit wonder, HBO really needs an epic on its slate. After much revamping and reshooting plus full-tilt promotion, the premium cabler just might have found its future in Westworld. But, as a say in my video review above, this series drenched in blood, sex and violence is more Grand Theft Auto than the Emmy-winning GoT.
Developed by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy and based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 movie, Westworld goes “straight evil,” to quote a character in the pilot of the well-constructed show, which debuts October 2. The drama executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk and Jerry Weintraub is an attempt at a beguiling depiction of a near future in which Disneyland might not be the happiest place on Earth — at least for those seeking a very bad good time.
From Ed Harris’ ravenous and murderous Man in Black and other deep-pocketed visitors seeking lascivious and bullet-based thrills at a fraying cowboy- and frontier-themed theme park, reality is only a question of how far or depraved you are willing to go to make it. On top of that, add in a glitch in the programming — a world now gone mad and a looming rebellion of sorts by the oft-abused and -molested robotic hosts. Westworld also has a cast as wide-ranging in talent as the series’ beautiful vistas in Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton, X-Men alum James Marsden, an excellent Sidse Babett Knudsen of Borgen fame and the very solid axis guide of Evan Rachel Wood as a ranch girl at the resort.
Underneath all its skin-level notions of free will, the open conceit of Westworld is that it is like the open sandbox of multiple storylines and resets found in the hugely successful GTA video game franchise — it can be or do whatever it wants. From what I’ve seen, once the setup of the hour-plus pilot establishes the parameters (or lack there of), that’s what Nolan and Joy want to reach for – and what they grab hold of.
Click on my video review above for more on Westworld and tell us whether you think this could be HBO’s next blockbuster.