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VINE VOICEon February 25, 2018
I didn't buy this for the show. I bought it for the special features. So I am kind of annoyed that there don't seem to be any commentary tracks. Maybe there are, but I haven't found them yet. But the extras are great!

As for the show - this is one of the Best. Shows. Ever. I couldn't believe how much my husband & I love it. We've seen each of the episodes at least 2-3 times and have had long discussions about what could be happening, what each and every tiny detail means, and what might happen next season. Which is taking forever to get here.
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VINE VOICEon January 8, 2018
This is a re-imagining of the classic from the 1970s. The premise is that, sometime in the future, technology gets to the point where there is a "wild wild west" theme park. So far, it doesn't sound very impressive, huh? Here's the catch: the characters in the park are all robots and the "theme park" stretches out for hundreds of square miles in the SW United States.

Things start to go awry when the "hosts" (as the robots are called) begin to deviate from the parameters of their programs. The series asks a lot of existential philosophical questions, such as: what is life? what is consciousness? when does a robot that is programmed qualify as a sentient being? is the line-of-demarcation blurred? what is free will? or does such a thing exist? do are advances in technology give us the right to "play god"? is there such a thing as pre-destination or fate? what are the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI for short) spiraling out of control?

If you're ready for a cerebral series, this just might be for you. From the opening, haunting theme it draws you in. Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins give the series a touch of class and Evan Rachel Wood nails her role as the sweet & innocent homesteader in the west. People who are fans of WESTWORLD will likely also like Ex Machina [Blu-ray + Digital HD], The Complete Matrix Trilogy (The Matrix / The Matrix Reloaded / The Matrix Revolutions) [Blu-ray] and Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] [Region-Free]. All of these movies delve into the dangers and opportunities of AI.
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on April 10, 2018
Awesome, visionary science fiction series takes Michael Crichton's book (essentially an old-west prototype of Jurassic Park) and uses that as a springboard for a dark, complex allegory with a modern treatment, including it's absolutely superb, polished production values and dramatic storytelling. This is real science fiction with an emphasis on self-consciousness, artificial intelligence, creation (divine, biological and artistic) and it's sociological aspects. Truly ambitious, extraordinarily intellectual with intelligent dialogue, and allusions to Paradise Lost, Shakespeare, and mythology as well as film making itself. The show's world and setting are very well done as well, from it's gorgeous plateau, canyon and sagebrush filled scenery, to it's stark facility and medical center. The memorable music and score are haunting and capture the mysterious, dark, creepy mood and chilling violence. The cast is excellent, especially Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris and Jeffery Wright. Hopkins steals nearly every scene he's in, his soliloquies are completely captivating -one of his finest roles. Let's not forget perhaps the most famous star of the show- the now infamous and iconic player piano (a brilliant symbol). This all adds up to a memorable and rewarding experience. A decent amount of extra content highlights many of the themes explored and the creative process. Another high quality show from HBO worth multiple viewings.Perfect for fans of open world style, quest-based video games.
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on February 27, 2018
This is by far the best production that HBO has brought forth. It's subtle, yet in your face. Anthony Hopkins is at the top of his game, and there are many "games" being played out - between the corporation, Hopkins, the "god" who invented Westworld, secrets being smuggled out, and then there is a fascinating breakthrough in awareness or consciousness, among the oldest and first created Hosts. Maeve, the saloon keeper, is one of the best characters in the film. There is also a search for a mysterious Maze, that might lead to some kind of secrets revealed. This series has enough twists and turns to make a pretzel dizzy! It's the best show to come along, artistically, musically, best acting, and writing (script) which reassures me that television is not really "dead". Heady stuff and requires thinking!
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on January 10, 2018
This is seriously one of the best new science fiction tv series in the last ten years. Based on the movie and books by Michael Crichton, creator of Jurassic Park. I loved the movie, but the tv series has so much more. Visually stunning. Makes you wonder if our reality is just a mere simulation fo someone else's enjoyment.
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on November 29, 2017
Such an amazing series! The last episode had me pause a few times b/c I needed to catch my breath. It makes you think and is entertaining to boot. Loved it!
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on February 15, 2018
Brilliant. Having read "The Origin of Consciousness & the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" back in the day, and studied the idea of consciousness as a layman over the course of my life, I found this first season absolutely exhilarating.
I've always believed that nudity and sexuality in art-specifically cinema-should be in the context of the story, and it is here.
An exceptional cast, punctuated by Anthony Hopkins who at this stage of his career makes it look absolutely effortless. Waiting for Season 2.
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on May 5, 2018
First, they need to add a couple of stars, five is not enough. The story, the costumes, multiple time lines, the Easter eggs. All of it comes together to make this one of the best science fiction and action adventure stories I've ever seen. A great ensemble cast where each character pulls you in a little more. You can't watch without feeling something for each of them. Whether it be hate, love or sympathy, you're going to grow attached to them. My favorite is Maeve, the brothel madam, played by Thandie Newton, such a tortured soul within that beautiful body. The proper British accent is a nice touch also. My second would be Bernard, played by Jeffrey Wright, everything seems to pivot around him, and he plays the role superbly. Anthony Hopkins is a master at playing sinister characters and he does so here. One moment he's like your grandfather, the next you expect a knife between your ribs. If you don't want to subscribe to HBO, buy this collection!
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on January 12, 2018
Interesting series. IF you took the present 'first person shooter' video games and made them into 'first person shooter' with robotic manikins, it would be Westworld. My wife did not watch, too much nudity and violence, but I did not mind it and followed the plot and acting. Worth watching, especially if Season 2 is 'creative'. BTW worth buying the DVD's instead of waiting for weekly HBO.
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Westworld is the ultimate fantasy experience -- a recreation of the Wild West where wealthy visitors can play at sex and violence. Of course, everything is going to go sour one day.

"Westworld Season 1" takes the concept of the original Michael Crichton movie and expands it drastically, making it an exquisitely dark tale about entertainment and sentience. The themes are ones that have been done to death elsewhere (playing God, the potential for artificial intelligence), but the intricacy of its writing sculpts this into a slow-burning, hauntingly intense tangle of dreams, mazes and intertwining realities.

For decades, Westworld has been the playground of wealthy people who want sex, violence and to just indulge their base desires. The park is full of "hosts," semi-sentient androids who truly believe they are gunslingers, farm girls, madams, desperados and so on. They die over and over, and are reassigned like dolls to different lives. And the patrons -- such as timid William (Jimmi Simpson) and his depraved "friend" Logan (Ben Barnes) -- are allowed to kill, rape and rampage through the hosts.

But something is changing in Westworld. Some of the hosts are acting strangely, speaking to a man who no longer exists. Others -- including dreamy farmgirl Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and hard-nosed madam Maeve (Thandie Newton) -- are becoming aware of what they are. Fragments of forgotten experiences are coming back to them, and Maeve even snaps back to consciousness in a repair center. Along with William, Dolores begins a quest into the depths of Westworld, searching for something she can't even identify -- but which might give her the freedom she craves.

At the heart of Westworld's success is Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins), who has just introduced a vast new storyline and a cruel villain to the artificial world, throwing the company into disarray. His increasingly strange behavior coincides with programming director Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) learning of a plot within the company. And making his way through Westworld is the Man in Black (Ed Harris), a mysterious guest who is in search of the Maze.

They say there are no new ideas, and "Westworld Season 1" is a good argument that it doesn't even matter. The themes of this story are old, well-worn sci-fi tropes -- the dangers of playing God, the line between man and machine, the point where an artificial intelligence could be considered alive -- but the presentation and skill with which they're written makes them feel fresh and incisive. Well, that and the awareness (missing from most sci-fi) that human beings can be unfathomably cruel.

The story is a slow-unfolding one, and Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy scatter countless mysteries and unanswered questions throughout it, slowly building on each other with every new episode. What is the Maze? What is Dr. Ford planning? What happened with Arnold? And are the hosts truly achieving sentience, and if so, how has it happened? These questions are raised and expanded with exquisite slowness, but they're still very gripping.

Half of the story is in the bloody, gritty, sun-baked Westworld, where life is even cheaper than it was in the real Wild West, and the other half is in the dark, glassy labyrinth of the actual Westworld corporation. These two worlds start to bleed into each other more with every passing episode, with haunting, exquisitely-disturbing visuals scattered throughout -- from the faceless hazmat-suited men that haunt the hosts, to the player piano that (very symbolically) can only play a prearranged, mechanical tune.

It also has a spectacular cast -- Hopkins as a sinisterly paternal overlord of the company; Wright as an amiable man who begins to think the hosts can be more than they are, and with good reason; Simpson as one of the few good, gentle people to visit the park; Harris as a cruel and mysterious figure who has seemingly appointed himself the villain; and Wood as a naive, romantic farm girl doomed to a "loop" of rape and loss, who begins a quest to learn the truth of her world.

There are a lot of solid supporting performances, like Rodrigo Santoro, Tessa Thompson, Ben Barnes, Shannon Woodward and James Marsden, but the easy standout is Thandie Newton as Maeve -- she's a fiercely independent, strong-willed woman who discovers that everything about her life is artificial, but takes the chance to seize control of it anyway.

The one problem? One of the underlying themes is that it's bad to indulge in unlimited fantasy violence and sex with unconsenting "fake" people... except this message is coming from HBO, who have fictional graphic violence and sex as their bread and butter. Seriously, one scene has Maeve provoking a guest into strangling her as he rapes her.

While some of the themes are well-trodden, "Westworld Season 1" is a richly-detailed expansion of the original movie, with excellent acting and sublime writing. But just where will playing God take us next?
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