Review: ‘Westworld,’ the wild west of a digital age

The title logo for the 2016 HBO series "Westworld." In Westworld, visitors live out their fantasies by means of artificial consciousness. (Courtesy/Wikimedia Creative Commons)

What if you could go to a place that let you be whoever you wanted to be and do whatever you wanted to do, with no consequences whatsoever? HBO’s latest series “Westworld,” produced by J.J. Abrams and created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, lets you experience just what that would be like in a futuristic western. The show already has rave reviews, receiving 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, 73 percent on Metacritic, and an 8.2/10 on

“Westworld,” which is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton film of the same name, begins by focusing on how a Wild West theme park is filled with “hosts,” which are androids created and programmed individually by a park director named Dr. Robert Ford, portrayed by the legendary Sir Anthony Hopkins. Ford is supported by a number of other programmers and employees at Westworld who keep the operation running. Other notable actors in the series include Luke Hemsworth, James Marsden, Ed Harris, Jimmi Simpson and Jeffrey Wright, to name a few.

The park runs a number of storylines that hosts are programmed to “perform” day after day, which may include dying repeatedly for some of the androids, but it’s okay because they are maintained every night with maintenance checks and placed back in the park to reset before the next morning. This aspect of the show has been highlighted a few times as programmers will do analysis checks, “speaking” with the androids at night during the reset.

The “guests” at the park are humans who pay a steep fee of $40,000 per day to enjoy the vast park “universe” and live the life of cowboys and cowgirls in the old west, or alternatively, live the life of outlaws shooting hosts. It truly allows a guest to have their dark twisted fantasies come true.

Some guests consider the morals of their decisions at the park, while others enjoy having essentially all the power in the world. The park’s higher employees also face ethical decisions, such as modifying the hosts’ consciousness and giving them the ability to become more human-like, or allowing them to forget the horrible things that humans do to them daily.

The main focus of the show thus far is the strange phenomenon that park hosts are starting to remember their past experiences with guests. It is an incredibly well-developed plot that challenges viewers’ minds to see how the androids slowly gain sentience. With each passing episode, another characters’ backstory is put under the spotlight and viewers learn more and more about the development of this park and of the world that surrounds it.

In my short experience watching “Westworld,” I’ve been at the edge of my seat pretty much the whole time, constantly theorizing what will happen next and why certain events have taken place. In my opinion, it is a true masterpiece and really gets the mind thinking about how far technology will go in the future.

This is just one reviewer’s opinion, but I believe that “Westworld” is and will be considered one of HBO’s best shows yet, rivaling even “Game of Thrones.” I give the new program a 9.5 out of 10 for its stunning world creation, fantastic mind-thrilling concepts and all-around excellent acting.

Chris Hanna is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at