Westworld (TV Series 2016– ) Poster

(2016– )

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How do we define "human"?
gogoschka-13 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
As many sci-fi fans will know, the show 'Westworld' is based on the 1973 feature film of the same name (written and directed by Michael Crichton), and the premise is basically the same as it was then: In a future where technological possibilities are seemingly endless, a highly sophisticated theme park offers rich clients the chance to visit the long gone era of the Old West (Crichton later explored a variation of that theme in a certain well known novel - which was then adapted by a certain Mr. Spielberg - albeit with slightly different creatures than cowboys populating a slightly more "jurassic" environment).

The show does a great job pulling the viewer immediately into Westworld. Within 10 minutes of the first episode, the basic rules of the theme park are established: paying guests called "newcomers" get to interact with androids called "hosts" (which to the naked eye are indiscernible from the guests) in a world dressed up like the Old West - and in this world, the guest truly is king. The rules are brutally simple: the visitors get to do whatever they like with - or to - the androids. They can have a friendly chat with them, flirt with them or embark on a spontaneous (or scripted) adventure with them - but they can also shoot them, rape them, torture them and kill them at will. Imagine a real-life version of the game 'Grand Theft Auto' (in a slightly different setting) and you'll get the idea.

The androids, on the other hand, are constructed and programmed in a way that is supposed to inhibit them from physically harming "living" creatures. At the beginning of the show - thanks to an interesting choice of storytelling - we get to experience Westworld from the perspective of the androids, which reveals a cruel detail about their nature: they apparently experience emotions. Artificial or not, they do feel pain and fear - as well as affection and anger, and they have no idea that they don't count as "real" people (at least not to those who call themselves real people). And while that detail certainly makes the "game" even more thrilling and more realistic for the visitors, it means that the shocking abuse some of the androids have to suffer is harrowingly real to them.

The way the show is constructed - so far - it immediately confronts the viewer with very uncomfortable questions. How do we as humans behave towards creatures we consider non-human? How excessive do we become and how thin does our layer of morality turn out to be if we're allowed to live out all our fantasies without having to fear any consequences for our actions? And at what point should a creature have rights similar to those we demand for ourselves? How do we define "sentient"? How do we define "human"? And how well do we actually understand - and how well are we able to control - the amazing technology our species seems to have acquired so suddenly?

As an avid film fan, I found 'Westworld' immediately intriguing; not only because it dares to challenge the viewer with fascinating philosophical questions and scientific concepts, but also because its premise offers the chance to explore a wide range of film genres: sci- fi, western, drama, horror - to name but a few. In the first few episodes alone, there are hints of many of my favorite films and stories such as (obviously) 'Frankenstein', 'Blade Runner', 'A.I.', 'Ex Machina', 'Jurassic Park', 'The Truman Show' and 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' (and I suspect somewhere down the road there will be a strong 'Spartacus' vibe). As for the non plot related aspects of the show: production design, music and effects are fantastic - as we've come to expect from HBO's high concept productions - and, with very few exceptions, the impressive ensemble of high caliber actors do a great job at bringing their respective characters to life (artificial and otherwise).

A special mention needs to go to Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins: their charismatic screen presence is once more just impossible to ignore and they simply own every scene they're in. Generally speaking, there really isn't much to complain about in 'Westworld' (so far), and I'm pretty sure HBO have another winner. Given the amount of talent involved, anything else actually would have been surprising. Produced by J.J. Abrams, created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy Nolan based on a concept by the late - great - Michael Crichton; directed by Neil Marshall and Vincenzo Natali (among others), and with a cast most shows would kill for, the stars really seem to have aligned for 'Westworld'.

My overall verdict so far: 'Westworld' is intelligent science fiction for adults (some scenes are very graphic) which offers more than just eye candy and is full of mysteries for the patient viewer to uncover. The show's main themes may not be new, but I found the way they are presented never less than compelling. It succeeds in creating a powerful metaphor for oppression, and by showing how quickly humans tend to deem "un-humane" treatment of other beings acceptable - once they've managed to convince themselves they're "less" human than they are - the show drove a point home that resonated strongly with me. 8 stars out of 10.

Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: imdb.com/list/ls075552387/

Favorite films: IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/

Lesser-Known Masterpieces: imdb.com/list/ls070242495/

Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies: imdb.com/list/ls054808375/
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Outstanding dialog, acting and story line
letshaveagoodtm29 October 2016
Pay attention, this series explores some very subtle story lines. I was extremely impressed when they introduced the bicameral mind concept when considering consciousness. That is one of the more important concepts when considering the origins of consciousness. I hope they explore this idea in greater detail and especially its implications related to physics. It is rare indeed to have a fictional work undertake such a complex topic without trivializing it. I definitely have to compliment the writers for undertaking such a complex topic and I hope they continue to explore the implications.

Again, IMDb thinks I should add additional lines to my review which is ridiculous. I have offered a clear and concise review and they want an arbitrary number of lines, what kind of idiot makes this a requirement?
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Season one was good, season two's only goal is to confuse and distract
kythia25 June 2018
SPOILER: I really liked the first season. It was a rather unique take on AI and the vices of mankind. Most of it was self-explanatory, like the constant debauchery and murder for fun, but the underlying search for hidden motives and "the truth" kept the show going, up to a grand finale.

Season two, however, is a bit of a letdown. Most of the futuristic hightech stuff is gone, except for a few mercenary-type guys to replace all the wanton murder from season one. Since we now know about the two parallel plots from season one, the audience isn't fooled as easily anymore.

So instead the writers set out to sidetrack us with irrelevant characters and plots who just end up dead or unresolved later on. The main story moves along at a much slower pace. Towards the end, the focus on AI development and AI trying to "free" itself seems lost almost completly.

If I wouldn't know better, I'd think the producers of this show were so surprised by their own success that they had no real idea of how to continue, and are now just cobbling up random ideas.

Season two is not bad, but its nowhere near as unique or visionary as the first. We'll have to see if the writers can turn it around for the inevitable season three.
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1st season was is a 9. Second season is 3. Hence the 6.
atmobilemail7 September 2018
The first season was novel and paced very well, along with the appropriate character developments. The second season was entirely something else. It was so bad it reminded me of Lost - which I stopped watching during the 3rd season. In Westworld, the pacing was gone. Useless flashbacks that had no importance to the story almost every five minutes ended any momentum it had. In fact, the flashbacks seemed as if somebody was just trying to ''stretch'' the show so that it would get a thrid season. As far as AI shows are concerned. I have a preference for Humans. After the second season, I couldn't see how they could have continued it with a third, but they did - and did they ever.
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What a disappointment!!!
ndelic-197688 July 2018
Season 1 was absolutely amazing.

Season 2 is absolute, complete and utter mess. The best description of season 2 plot is: "Reflective orange among church for wilderness airplane with spiritual expatriation of space submarine, unless".

HBO should publicly apologize for the season 2 disaster and refund subscription to everyone who was tricked into watching season 2.
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timoverend8315 October 2016
This show is so far perfect. The story is intriguing, the visuals are beautiful and the acting is incredible.

The previous reviewer who said the violence is unnecessary has missed the point in my opinion. The violence is very much needed. It is there to make you feel uncomfortable, because it is that inner dark side and battle between good and evil (and more often than not the middle ground between) that is at the very epicenter of the human condition.This is what the show is often commenting on and this is what makes this show so interesting, thought provoking and ultimately entertaining.

If it carries on in the same vein we will have a modern day classic on our hands.
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No spoilers here because Westworld lost the plot.
Randomizer260022 September 2018
I enjoyed Season 1 of Westworld, and was eager to see how the series developed. However, Season 2 is incomprehensible. There is no dramatic tension at all because if someone gets killed, they come back. Of course that's only the robots who can come back, but maybe the human was a robot. Or the character keeps showing up in endless flashbacks. There are some action sequences that could be interesting, but its difficult to care since the outcome seems irrelevant. Following any part of the plot is fruitless because what you are watching could be a ruse or a flashback. In parts, it seems like the writers are punishing for watching by making a scene as boring as possible. I'm not sure if I gave up trying follow what characters were trying to accomplish or I just no longer cared. Even Dolores, a fetching character with depth, is no longer of any interest.

I do enjoy the musical score. And Season 2 is a good show to put on in the background if you have things to do around the house. Even when there is tense dialogue or what would be compelling action, I don't bother looking up as I unload the dishwasher because no dialogue, action or story development matters.
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Starting to lose interest
vatigue23 May 2018
I'm into episode 5 of season 2 now. Season 1 did a great job creating the universe and building up tension and suspense. It even made me get invested in some of the protagonists while failing to make me care for others. I stuck to it mainly due to the fact that I really loved Person of Interest and whatever Jonathan Nolan wrote before. Here's the problem: I don't care about any of the characters at this moment. I'm not invested in what they are working towards or if they even survive. The production value and acting are both top, there is nothing to complain there. But I keep getting distracted while watching an episode and start doing other things. The pace and cutting is weird since season 2 started and it fails to keep my attention at all. I was really waiting for the promised ancient Japan part of the park and all the samurais. Sadly, even that storyline fell flat and ended in clichéd characters and no caring on my end. I fail to find what drives most of the characters to do what they do. There are some goals I can see and others that just feel off. It feels like all of them are just wandering the park (that should be overrun by the parks security or government military by now) for no apparent reason. I'm sad because I really had high hopes for this due to Jonathan Nolan. Will give up watching now though. A solid 6 for the acting and production of the series. Nothing more cause I really don't care about any of the characters by now.
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Watch Season 1! Skip Season 2...
georgechristophert8 July 2018
Season 1 was profound, thought-provoking, gripping drama. I thought it the best TV show ever.

Season 2 was self-indulgent, complexity for complexities sake, which ultimately led nowhere. Along the way were gapping holes that I can only guess are there out of laziness and/or to lure viewers to watch former episodes in a vain attempt to fill said holes, thus trapping them in the world of the show that now exists only for its own sake, that now offers nothing of value to the viewer in exchange for their time.

Like the guests, the core drive of the show is to survive, at any cost. It will die without my viewing eyes to accompany it.

Another show that lost its way after an incredible first season.
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Had it, then lost it
kennykenworthy29 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This show started great, but devolved into a jumbled mass of convoluted plot threads, contrived and unrealistic scenarios, and an over abundance of characters. What was an interesting introspective of humanity and the possible future of technology turned sour by season two. First, the technological consistency doesn't work. For example, The technology to create synthetic humans exist but the security forces use P-90 machine guns invented in the 90's? Secondly, the scenarios don't seem plausible. A park with that much scope doesn't have any fail safes or government oversight when the bots go crazy? I call BS. Third, their are too many characters and plot threads to follow. There is Bernard, Delores, the man in Black (Ed Harris), and Maeve as main characters and a plethora of ancillary characters that just add more mud to the clarity of the story. Also, some of the plot threads seem unnecessary and useless (I love me some samurai but that plot line was completely irrelevant except to say that Maeve has special bot controlling powers). And lastly, the plot (s) have a very difficult time staying consistent. One second it's focusing on the past, than the present, than questioning the essence of humanity, than showing tits, ass, blood and guts with a pinch of SciFi powers all wrapped in a confusing conundrum of fictitious reality. I usually roll my eyes at least once an episode at the ludicrous events that are unfurling.
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Really disappointing Season 2
saumyagupta3 July 2018
It has become just another show which relies completely on fancy graphics, wordy dialogues and frequent gunfights. Season 2 was all about fancy technology (which seems extremely impractical), people walking around in the desert having gunfights (throw in a couple swordfights here and there) and loose plot twists most of which seemed unnecessary. There's a false illusion of depth. The showmakers also don't seem to understand technology or anything related to artificial intelligence, nor have they even tried to do any basic research on it. The plot has gaping holes, and after a point you even stop caring whether the story is even coherent or not. I hated the second season as much as i loved the first. It has deterred me from watching any self-proclaimed sci-fi TV series or movie for at least the next couple months.
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Absolutely spectacular
Violent_Delight280418 October 2016
Wow, where to begin...

First of all, the score by Ramin Djawadi is absolutely majestic!

The actors, well, whatever I say just won't be enough. It's a total pleasure watching every second of their stellar performances.

The plot - being a huge fan of sci-fi, it simply doesn't get better than that!

The scenery is gorgeous, it really takes you in the past. That constant mix of past and future is brilliant.

Overall, I am amazed ( obviously ), mesmerized and absolutely loving every single thing about this show!

Already a classic in my book <3
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"Lost" all over again!!
cagdas-21-31507327 June 2018
"Lost" all over again!! Apparently the writers didnt know what to do on the 2nd season and just improvised!! Complete rubbish!!
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A dive like I've never seen before
Arnror_II26 June 2018
From one of the best sci-fi television series I've ever seen in season 1, to a messy philosophical mumbo jumbo turd, that will not entertain anyone who's not a 14 year old boy.

I like philosophical challenges, like some of Star Treks early years or TNG, but this is not challenging, interesting, provoking, or even a bit entertaining. I don't think they expected this one to make it to season two, and it shows.

Frankly, it's crap. A well casted, brilliantly executed, amazingly looking piece of crap. I will not waste my time on the third season, and if you're reading this before watching season two, spare yourself. Walk away.
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A delightful change from cheap flicks
mynban3 November 2016
First of all, it is very clear that the production mindset behind Westworld is far from creating a cheap product with generic high bursts of tension/love/horror/excitement. It is full of deep human conflicts, that is if you are open to watch it with a clear mind.

Hopkins' quote from the end of episode 2 when he says "No" to "Odyssey on Red River" and explanation of his refusal feels like a statement of the production mindset. "Odyssey on Red River" pretty much summarizes everything wrong with entertainment media nowadays, and Westworld is a real delight that shines as a great production.

I don't know how to tell its greatness without spoiling the show, but unless you want a cheap ride you will glimpse at screen in between your texting; you can not not enjoy this show!
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Clipping my toenails is more interesting than season 2
sales-857 June 2018
As so many others have said, season 1 was very good, divergent stories all coming together. Much like "True Detective", season 2 is a hot mess. One of my toenails hit an empty beer can and made a cool "clink" sound. That was more interesting than any episode of season 2. Disclaimer: I am old enough to remember seeing the original Westworld movie in 1973 for fifty cents.
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Stop using guest writers!
elizabeth-logan118 June 2018
I hate when really good shows begin to unravel into confusion under guest writers!
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... and then came season 2
Sissa010128 November 2018
Well, since my longer review got deleted by mistake and don't feel like writing it again: Season 1- great. Season 2 got so pretentious that it stopped being fun to follow. Back and forth, here and there, blah, blah, blah. I mean, it's all good to not put it all on the table and leave something for the viewer's brain to work out, but second season was just frustrating. I was going to give it 7 stars, but I got so angry that it just was going and going and going and ended up .... god knows where, I give it only 6*. I couldn't finish season 2 unfortunately. If that makes me simple minded ( as someone below mentioned) so be it.
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Season two, especially the later episodes, is not up to par with the quality of the first season.
j-bruns1 July 2018
First season was a breath of fresh air among the mediocrity of most TV series. For the second season, I guess they thought their reputation would suffice.

The characters stopped behaving believably and consistently. I feel like they wrote the ending, some scenes that they liked to present to the audience, and then just blindly tried to string everything together with a lot of meaningless and insignificant filler content.

Everything else is excellent by the way. It's just that lazy, pretentious writing is doing this in.
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Devolves into bs
davor160726 June 2018
I really loved the first season. It was a bit "twisty" (don't know how to describe it better without it being a spoiler) but you could watch it from the beginning to end and say "aha, cool". With season two they just overdid it to the point where most people can't just watch the show and understand what the hell is going on. Instead only people who understand what's going on now seem to be those who are ready to re-watch every episode, share ideas on the forums, draw diagrams about who did what where and when... If you like that David Lynch type stuff where everything is so convoluted you have to do research on every scene in order to figure out what's going on, you'll love this. If you want just a fun sci-fi show to watch, there's nothing for you here.
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Disjoined - Hard to follow - Disappointing
bobnjuls425 June 2018
So much potential, so little produced. Season 1 was OK but Season 2 was a mess of disconnected story lines. Between the memory trails and the story line bouncing back and forth that was hard to follow and the horrible depressive music this was very disappointing. It seemed like the writers attempted to create exciting action by having shootout after shootout instead of writing creative narratives. So much potential for a gripping series wasted on a weird, incongruent and boring waste of time. I needed the Season 2 finale to pull things together or I was done. Without a doubt, I'm done.
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Its full of nonesense
yasirwazirgcu12 November 2018
The 2nd season is full of nonesense like "lost" there is never ending stories.
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A popular series dealing with complex topics
FrenchEddieFelson15 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Once upon a time, two friends. Arnold Weber is a theoretician, let's say a geek, genuinely interested in his fundamental research work dealing with artificial intelligence, consciousness, ... whereas Robert Ford is more complex, although he can probably be considered more pragmatic and mercantile. Together, they created the Westworld, an immersive park reproducing the atmosphere of the Wild West, and populated by androids known as « hosts », who perfectly imitate the humans. Humans known as « guests » pay a fortune to spend their time in the park as if they were able to time-travel, with the freedom to do as they please with a complete impunity. What an awesome dream!

First things first, all the scenes dealing with consciousness are copied and pasted from a specific book, i.e. The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Julian Jaynes, 1976). All the screeds about consciousness are very interesting and highlight the extreme complexity related to a hypothetical implementation of an awareness within a host: the bootstrapping consciousness is an iterative process based on reveries. After each loop, a reset is voluntarily not complete in order of letting the hosts evolve. Nevertheless, a pyramid model proved too simple and Arnold Weber evoked then a maze, as a figure of speech. But it was probably a simple analogy translating his manifold failures while trying to implement the consciousness, knowing that a maze is usually dotted with dead ends, obvious symbol of failure.

Then, around this smart core, there is a diaper of entertainment coated by an unbearable hubbub, the complete series relying on usual even easy recipes:

1) Sex, booze and dead-or-alive hunts. We quickly understand why the guests come on holiday to Westworld. For the fun and the entertainment!

2) Arnold Weber versus Bernard Lowe. You had probably already noticed, Bernard Lowe is the anagram of Arnold Weber. After Arnold's death, Robert Ford managed to build a clone of Arnold, a kind of a phoenix, the well-known bird in Greek mythology. Thus, Arnold became Bernard. But, we do not know how, since this process is definitely not self-explanatory. Directors and script-writers are not very pedagogue about it.

3) Consciousness. When a guest is fighting a duel against a host, when a guest is drinking whiskey while playing poker with hosts, when a guest is reaching orgasm thanks to a host, it seems to me that a consciousness within a host should not change big thing, in a guest point of view. So, with a purely mercantile approach, why waste time developing a complex, superfluous and potentially dangerous consciousness? That defies common sense!

4) The maze. William, a.k.a. the man in black, acts as if the maze was an ultimate Easter egg or even the Holy Grail, and yet he is the owner of Westworld, a company that should be similar to Facebook, Amazon or Apple in terms of market capitalization. One imagines him powerful, immeasurably rich and probably busy. So, why would such a man waste his time searching for a meaningless maze? And how did he get to know this maze, a thing that doesn't exist? That does not make any sense! To deceive the audience as much as possible, this quest pollutes the series with scenes as grotesque as moronic, including a maze engraved under the scalp of a host. Wooooow! Literally incredible and desperately absurd.

5) Freedom. At the very end of the first season, Maeve Millay, the brothel madam in the Mariposa Saloon, abandons all of a sudden her project of freedom to find her daughter, while she is fully aware of being an android. As a matter of facts, androids do not get pregnant, androids do not give birth, androids do not raise children. At all! She is supposed to be conscious and smart, this parameter having been increased 'all the way to the top' during the sixth episode. So, this incomprehensible twist is worthy of a vulgar soap opera.

6) The weapons. We see a lot of Remingtons, Rambo knives, bows and arrows. How can a guest be immune to a weapon that is lethal to hosts? How does it work? Same remark as in the second point with a complete lack of pedagogy.

As a synthesis: despite irritating flaws, the series is interesting and addresses exciting topics such as artificial intelligence and consciousness. In addition, the sets, costumes and landscapes are beautiful. Finally, the actors are overall excellent, especially Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Wright and ... Thandie Newton, gorgeous and divine as usual, if not more than usual!

As a postscript, my favorite quotes: You can't play God without being acquainted with the devil. Oh Felix, you really do make a terrible human being, and I mean that as a compliment. These violent delights have violent ends. How many times have you died? Some people see the ugliness in this world, I choose to see the beauty, but beauty is a lure. Are we nothing more than creatures of our programming? There aren't two versions of me, there's only one, when I discover who I am, I'll be free. One day, I realized I'd made a mistake, consciousness isn't a journey upward, but a journey inward, not a pyramid but a maze, every choice could bring you closer to the center, or send you spiraling to the edges, to madness.

It's definitely worth a try.
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First series good, second series terrible
First series of this programme was very interesting and felt brand new. The second series was horrendous, made it up as they went along. Dolurus repeating the same rubbish over and over and over and over and over and over.
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A Spectacular Philosophical/Sci-Fi TV Show
greyfire3 December 2016
Westworld has quickly and unexpectedly become one of my favorite shows of all time. It's a show that manages to make the viewer ask questions about human existence and human morality.

I was really excited to watch this show because of the premise alone: There's a theme park filled with robots called 'hosts' that are made to resemble humans in almost every way; visitors to the theme park enter a western themed world where they can do whatever they want, including raping and murdering the hosts. At the beginning, I wasn't sure where the show was headed, but it intrigued me. After a few episodes, some questions were answered and as I began to see the direction the show was taking, I fell in love with it.

The show presents the perspective of many different characters who each have their own opinion on what is right and wrong regarding the use of the hosts. And there's always mystery in the plot that'll keep you wondering about the people, their motives and whether or not they should be considered an immoral person based on their actions.

Westworld challenges us to think about what makes someone a conscious human being and what exactly makes us real and separates us from the hosts.
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