“…makes me long for, and afraid of a theme park like Delos.”
Watching movies that I loved as a kid is always a gamble. Either I rediscover what made me love the film in the first place, or I wonder why exactly I was so stupid. Luckily for Westworld, it was the former. Westworld is a film about a company called Delos who run them parks like no other. In these parks, you are transported to a period-accurate location (the American west, Medieval times, or Roman times) that is occupied by robots that look, and act, exactly like people. These parks are designed to let people live out their fantasy in a time period of their choice, but the film really follows two men who are visiting Westworld. While in Westworld, we get to see these two have the time of their lives, until the robots start to misbehave and Westworld becomes a death trap.
The premise of Westworld is enough to make me love the film by itself. I don’t think there isn’t a person in the world who hasn’t dreamed about living in a different time period at least once, and Westworld shows that fantasy in great detail. What I love about Westworld is that when it starts, it is a hilarious look at these tourists in different time periods. Of course when someone from ‘modern times’ is put in a period of the past, they won’t be familiar with everything and Westworld does a great job of making this really enjoyable to watch. We also get to see behind the scenes where technicians spend their days tirelessly making sure that everything is going to plan for these guests. Like I said, this portion of the movie is hilarious, making me double-over in laughter multiple times. But what’s great about Westworld is that, much like the robots in the film, a switch is seemingly flipped and the film turns into a thriller reminiscent of The Terminator. This transition is so seamless and it works so well because the same thing that we as an audience are feeling, the characters are also feeling. The film transitions from a happy time, to a time of despair and it works beautifully.
The film maintains this fear in many different ways, and one of those ways is the acting. Much like The Terminator, our antagonist is a robot who will stop at nothing to kill the main character. This robot is so scary because it does everything with ease, approaching challenges as though they are merely inconveniences. It can also be argued that this robot is scarier than the Terminator ever was because Yul Brynner is one scary motherfucker. In our two main characters we get to see both an amazed first-time visitor of Westworld, and a “veteran” of sorts who knows the ropes and is able to guide the newbie. We also get a wonderful performance out of the head technician (or at least I think he was the head technician) who begins noticing a terrifying pattern with Westworld’s robots.
One thing that caught my attention was the score of Westworld. Now the film takes place in three theme parks, each of which being a different setting and time period. The music does a great job of reflecting this by subtly, yet effectively, changing the instruments used when the setting is changed. Now these “themes” are far from revolutionary, often opting instead for the “tried-and-true” themes that are prevalent throughout many Western films as well as Medieval and “Sword and Sandal” epics. Even though the technique of switching instruments struck me as smart, it wasn’t until the film took the aforementioned “dark turn” that I started to fall in love with the music. When the film switches from a ‘good time’ to a thriller, we get a lovely slow transition that melds the areas ‘theme’ with a subtle electronic influence (of course due to the fact that a robot is chasing us). Not only do these themes continue to change with different parks, but they ultimately get phased out all together as the film grows more intense and opts for a completely ‘modern’ score.
Ultimately Westworld is a fun, yet terrifying ride the entire way through. With great performances, an intriguing story, and a great score Westworld makes me long for, and afraid of a theme park like Delos.
I give Westworld an A