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THE REEL: 'Westworld' makes you examine your conscience

Thursday January 31 2019

“Westworld” is a story about a whole world with robotic (semi-human) people, created as a scientific experiment.

A screen grab of the cover of “Westworld”, a series about a whole world with robotic (semi-human) people, created as a scientific experiment. PHOTO | COURTESY 

THOMAS RAJULA
By THOMAS RAJULA
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The last time I did a series review was in 2015. Back then, I was still in campus and had nothing but time to kill. Well, last year I thought to myself, like everyone’s been professing on social media, 2019 is the year I do it!

My first review is on a series titled “Westworld”. I really did not know what to expect from the title but as it’s all in a day’s work, I hit the play button and, granted that the series’ first aired in 2014, hoped for the best and I was not disappointed to say the least.

Ever wondered what the future with robots may be like in the end?

“Westworld” is a story about a whole world with robotic (semi-human) people, created as a scientific experiment by two scientists. This virtual world has now become a top-dollar tourist attraction under the control of Dr Ford (played by Anthony Hopkins), the last remaining founder.

These robotic humans are not really robots, as you would assume, but are quite human in likeness and feel. They also exhibit similar emotions and all other senses. The ‘humans’ created by Dr Ford and Arnold prove to have a conscience through a programme added to them by Dr Ford called “reveries”. They get to a path of self-discovery (sentience) and seek to escape from their scripted lives meant only to entertain the guests who visit their world.

The guests, known as the newcomers by their hosts (the robots), come to Westworld to play out their cowboy fantasies and live a life without consequence for a few days, as the hosts are programmed not to hurt them.

HUMANITY

The story picks up momentum when one of the newcomers, William (Jimmi Simpson), meets Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), one of the hosts, and falls in love with her. He then vows to protect her.

William is, however, the only human close to honourable who seems to care for the plight of the hosts, as all the rest care only for their self-gratification and getting their money’s worth. But then again, they are just machines in the end.

I love a story that gets you thinking and challenging your conscience, and this was all that and more. The portrayal of the different characters encourages an introspection on human life – man’s eternal desire to play ‘god’, the search for the truth and the fight for supremacy between man and Artificial intelligence, which is all quite familiar, making this a great story. The plot and expert direction by Jonathan Nolan (who also directed “Person of Interest”) made this series captivating from the onset. The nature of the plot is one never explored before and leaves one asking themselves profound questions.

In a bid to make the robots life-like you end up thinking they are people, which explains William’s predicament. HBO films really outdid themselves on this one, I feel. The plot structure was equalled to, if not surpassed by, the storytelling.

An episode runs for approximately 60 minutes and with 10 episodes per season, it is quite an investment of your time but well worth it. Once you start watching this series, you will definitely find a reason to rush your evening commute, shorten your night time bath or skip cooking dinner and order take-out, just to sneak in an episode or three.

The series is currently in its second season with the third still being filmed. Be warned that the theme and language are very adult so this is reserved for a mature audience.

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