Westworld: Is this the world’s worst holiday camp?

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Westworld: Is this the world’s worst holiday camp?

October 12, 2016 - 12:01
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You’re vastly wealthy and keen to enjoy the no-expense-spared holiday of a lifetime. So you catch a chugging steam train to a theme park to dress up as a cowboy and rape robots. Yeah right.

Sir Anthony Hopkins in Westworld

You’re vastly wealthy and keen to enjoy the no-expense-spared holiday of a lifetime. So you catch a chugging steam train to a theme park to dress up as a cowboy and rape robots. Yeah right.

Somehow, the business model for Westworld doesn’t stack up. Do you shell out a fortune to shoot pretend people and watch the blood spill out of them? Or do you climb aboard a luxury superyacht and set sail for St Bart’s? Yee ha… the Caribbean here we come.

So would a company offering a comprehensive Wild West experience be rolling in money? Would it hell. It would go broke faster than you can say: “Head ‘em off at the pass.”

That said, Sky Atlantic’s new series based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 futuristic film is a fantastic feast for the eyes that operates on so many levels it’s hard to keep up. But pay close attention… it’s well worth the effort.

At the centre of this stunning sci-fi saga are the immaculate machines that exist in their own Groundhog Day, constantly trudging through the same old stories on a loop with no memory that they’ve done it all before right down their exact words and precise mannerisms. These are the “hosts”.

Into this horrible historical fabrication come the “guests” who can act all brave because although their bullets will cause gruesomely realistic deaths, they cannot be hurt when the robots’ return fire. They become immortal John Wayne heroes in their own psychopathic fantasies.

As an added bonus, if they don’t fancy killing the machines they can shag them. Which is nice.

So far so far-fetched. But it’s quiet… too quiet. Naturally, trouble is brewing. Those pesky androids are getting mighty fed up with always losing the fights and the horrific way the human visitors treat them. Exploitative innit. Now they’re starting to question their repetitive existence and revolution is in the air.

Anyway, after one confused robot finds a 21st century photo and is so phased he seizes up, the others start to suffer nightmares. Could it be they’re mad as hell and they’re not gonna take the relentless persecution anymore? Surely not.

Anyway, the good thing is that when the clockwork cowboys begin to behave strangely they have to be checked out by the technical team. Which is an excellent excuse to strip Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood naked and examine them in loving close up.

Talking of the technicians, they operate in a James Bond-style underground HQ where they wear weird white plastic suits with air tight helmets for no apparent reason. The sort of thing that used to look thoroughly modern when Sean Connery was 007 back in the 1960s. But doesn’t anymore.

Amid fears that playing God to a bunch of unruly robots is a one-way ticket to disaster, they’ve brought in the top genius scientist who created this cutting edge dystopia. Dr Hannibal Lecter. Or rather, Sir Anthony Hopkins portraying his latest version of Dr Hannibal Lecter.

Lizard faced and sinister, Hopkins’ control freak character Dr Robert Ford likes to sit around in the bowels of the Earth chatting with Wild Bill Hickock. And then to wander around the desert mysteriously devising some daft adventure in which the ultra-violent guests can get seriously involved. Can’t he think of anything better to do?

Meanwhile, we mustn’t forget the Man In Black. Played by Ed Harris, this guest is the ultimate villain. Revelling in murdering men, women and children, his evil tour de force unfolds as he grabs screaming Delores (Wood) by the hair and drags her off to the barn to defile her. All part of the sick service. What a laugh!

But Mr Man in Black isn’t just any fun-loving vacationer. He’s been to counterfeit cowboy country so often that this time he’s determined to stay. So he scalps a hapless robot and discovers the map of a maze inside his head. As you do. Where will the maze lead him? Watch this space.

And after two compelling episodes, that’s where we stand. On the edge of some sort of high-tech catastrophe. Bring it on. Westworld might be the worst idea for a holiday camp ever. But as a TV series it’s an intriguing gun-slinging winner. Rustle up your posse… and tune in.

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Anna May's picture

I'm glad so many are watching and enjoying Westworld so far. Anthony Hopkins is certainly a huge draw, but all the cast members are pulling their weight. Also, the visual hints at what's happening help reassure me the writers appreciate an intelligent audience (yes, I know I also watch X Factor, give me a break). There are no over the top reinforcements of the plot to trudge through. Every detail is taken care of subtly, but we notice it.

Whereas Dolores would have happily let a fly wander across her open eye in the first episode, the second episode sees her instinctively slap an annoying bug dead on her neck. Interesting that she didn't just flick it off. No, she wanted it gone for good. Sweet Dolores is not only more in tune with her body now, it looks like she's capable of murder too. Start small and all that. Go Dolores!

So much to see and enjoy here. I hope anyone who hasn't had a chance to watch the first two episodes yet catches up soon. It's well worth it.