Sci-fi dramas are very much en vogue, and HBO’s newest action series, Westworld, looks to be one of the most promising yet.
Its first major appeal is the cast, principally the two women most visible in the trailer: Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton. Wood is no stranger to playing other-worldly creatures (in HBO’s True Blood) but, while she’s proven she’s a capable dramatic actress, has yet to really show a level of talent that puts her above the rest. I was impressed by her performance in Sixteen all those years ago but have since not seen much to set her apart. Newton has been given few popular platforms to display her talents (since Mission Impossible II), so I’m hoping this will be a strong showcase for her. Then there is the always fantastic Anthony Hopkins, the reliably strong Ed Harris, and James Marsden, a promising 90s leading man who kind of fizzled out but has recently been doing good work in supporting roles. It would be nice to see Marsden get a chance to shine on TV (and not necessarily as Liz Lemon’s perfect boyfriend on 30 Rock, although that was always a treat.)
The second appeal is its clear posing of the irresistible question: “What does it mean to exist, either as a human or a robot (if there is even a true difference)?” That, of course, has been the major philosophical query of many sci-fi novels and films, most notably Ridley Scott’s amazing Bladerunner (based on a Philip K. Dick novel). Battlestar Galactica had a wonderful go at the question with its brilliant first seasons. This new HBO series looks to be taking its shot at exploring the subject via some impressive visuals, thrilling action sequences, and strong robot-impersonations.
Westworld is set to premiere in the fall.