The first reviews are in for HBO’s big-budget new robo-thriller Westworld — and the results are unanimous (so far). The sci-fi drama is being heralded as a worthy successor to Game of Thrones (which sets a pretty high bar given it’s the network’s highest-rated show of all time and this weekend is on the verge of becoming the most-honored Emmy-winner of all time, too).
HBO has made the first four episodes available to critics (the first season is 10 episodes long). EW will have its own review closer to premiere, but for now, here are some excerpts from around the web. The series premieres Oct. 2.
IGN: “After a lot of build-up and some much-discussed production delays, would it deliver? The answer is a big yes, as those high expectations were met with a terrific, gripping premiere episode (airing Oct. 2 on HBO) that quickly draws you in… its standout cast to its excellent visuals to one hell of a hummable score by the great Ramin Djawadi (the composer of Game of Thrones and Person of Interest), this is top-notch television in every respect. The juxtaposition of life inside Westworld and life for those who are creating Westworld allows for an excellent entry point into the show, allowing us to invest with these artificial life forms from the start, while getting to also see the motivations of those behind-the-scenes.”
The Atlantic: “What would happen if or when the day came that humankind created an intelligence so powerful that it turned against us? It’s a scenario that’s been visualized a thousand ways… But the scenario has rarely been developed with the sophistication and ingenuity on display in HBO’s upcoming series Westworld …. The series doesn’t merely present androids as protagonists or victims. It grants them the defining victory of the outsider: the right at last to tell—haltingly, given their emergent capacities—their stories for themselves.”
The Guardian: “… for those of us who just like story – lots and lots of story! – Westworld will hit the spot as hard as GoT ever did. Gosh, there’s a lot going on… There’s the real world full of robot-wranglers, some of whom are jostling for position inside whatever just-possibly-malevolent company owns the park, others of whom are busy tinkering with their charges’ software and trying to decide whether to make the skinjobs more realistic or quit while they’re ahead. ‘Y’know, before everything goes a bit, like, Skynet on us’ nobody ever quite says, but clearly should.”
Collider: “The series — with a solid logical foundation and world-building — is lovingly crafted, marrying its Wild West aesthetic with cold sci-fi elements of the labs that run the park in a way that feels believably connected … The series even broaches philosophical musings, à la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as to whether it would be better to live a safe life where our pain is erased, or a life of free will with all of its mistakes and hurt. The choice is not always clear. Like Game of Thrones, Westworld is a sprawling story, but it’s never as disparate as the world of Westeros and what lies beyond the Narrow Sea. What matters here is the notion that everything is contained, intimate, and carefully crafted, and fans of Crichton will immediately feel the familiarity with his most famous stories’ themes: where what we overly-confident Homo sapiens create and try and control quickly spirals out beyond our abilities. We are not gods, only tinkerers, and the characters of Westworld are starting to learn that trying to control what we don’t understand can lead to catastrophic effects.”
The Telegraph: “…we’re thrust into a complex, visionary world that is pleasingly in no rush to rapidly churn out its storyline. Like the on-screen robots, its pieces are meticulously put together, its capacity to unleash hell brimming beneath the surface. And it’s beautiful to watch. Utah’s tourist industry best be ready for the swell in numbers this series is likely to create, for its dry, epic spectacle of a backdrop has been rendered to almost as jaw dropping effect as seeing it in real life.”
The Globe and Mail: “In fact, for all its brutal violence and sex – some of the visitors merely want to kill, rape and pillage – the series is a gorgeous exercise in profound melancholy. What horrors has humankind wreaked with a mass devotion to perfection, personal satisfaction and entertainment? At times terrifying bleak and cynical, Westworld is lugubrious. It can have characters announcing, ‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here,’ and set out to illustrate that.”
Games Radar: “About 15 minutes into the Westworld pilot, you’re left with absolutely no doubt that this could be a genuine contender for the HBO’s next smash hit. In one breathless gunfight sequence, show creator and writer/director of the first episode, Jonathan Nolan, manages to nod to Michael Crichton’s original 1973 movie, completely smash your early preconceptions, ask some fairly deep ethical questions, and even court a little controversy. … If the first episode is anything to go on, you need to watch this show — it’s the next big thing.