Nocturnal Animals (Film Review) – Disturbing, Unsettling, Brilliant

Nocturnal Animals is a psychological thriller written, co-produced, and directed by Tom Ford and stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher and Michael Shannon. This is Tom Ford’s second directorial effort and it tells the story of an art gallery owner, played by Amy Adams, whose actions in the past are now at the forefront of her mind due to reading a novel which was written by her ex-husband, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Nocturnal Animals

I knew little about this film when sitting down to watch it at my local cinema. Quite honestly, it was the strength of the cast which made me really interested to see Nocturnal Animals in the first place. Additionally, I knew little about Tom Ford whose only previous directorial effort was 2009’s A Single Man which is a film I have not seen yet. As a result, I went into the film not really knowing what to expect.

Amy Adams in Nocturnal Animals

My Thoughts on Nocturnal Animals

I have to say, I am so glad about this because Nocturnal Animals floored me. Any expectations I had about how good this film would be were exceeded to a very large degree. Firstly, the performances in this film are incredible. Amy Adams is great and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is unrecognisable in this film by giving a chilling, dark performance. This was a stark contrast to his previous work in films such as Kick-Ass and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the character of Quicksilver.

Yet, the standouts are Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon. They give performances which rank amongst the very best they have given in their careers so far. Gyllenhaal plays two characters in Nocturnal Animals and he shines in his raw, powerful and heartbreaking portrayal of Tony Hastings. He gives his absolute all in this film and Shannon gives an equally great performance which I hope will be recognised.

The Stories

In this film, three stories are happening at the same time and it can be a struggle for a film to tell these stories with equal importance. Nocturnal Animals finds the right balance and the stories are seamlessly interwoven which makes the more emotional moments hit that much harder. While there are small moments of humour which relieve the tension, this film is emotional and harrowing and I struggle to think of another film released this year which has impacted me in the same way.

Michael Shannon in Nocturnal Animals

Truthfully, you will not forget Nocturnal Animals. You will think it about for a while after you’ve seen it and I am still trying to figure out the overall meaning of the film due to the various themes in this film such as cynicism, revenge, regret, proving yourself, shallowness and the barbaric nature of humanity.

Overall, Nocturnal Animals ranks amongst the very best films I have seen this year. While I may struggle to watch it again due to the harrowing elements within the film, it will stay with me for a long time due to the fantastic performances by the cast, its themes and the impact each story had on me.

Because of this, I definitely feel that Nocturnal Animals will be recognised once awards season starts and it deserves to be recognised as the film is a wonderful achievement. Tom Ford deserves a lot of credit for making this film and I look forward to seeing what he does in the future.

Westworld: Season 1 Episodes 5-6 (Television Review) – The Best So Far and It Will Get Better

I will get straight to the point; the past two episodes of Westworld were fantastic and the best this television show has given us so far. Don’t get me wrong, the first four episodes were great at setting up the characters and the world. It was a fantastic foundation which has now been built upon thanks to past two episodes which have given us some really interesting developments.

What were these developments?

The most important of these developments happened in ‘Contrapasso‘ and this was the fact that we got close to confirmation that William and Logan’s storyline is taking place in the past. This is a theory that has been going around amongst fans of the show for some time and it was a theory seemingly proved to be correct throughout various stages within ‘Contrapasso’. It would take too long to fully explain in this review but reasoning behind this theory being proved in ‘Contrapasso’ can be found here.

This is a really exciting development, especially as it could eventually lead to the proving of another theory which is the thought that William becomes Ed Harris’ Man in Black. Certainly, William is showing signs of slowly becoming corrupted by the park and moving away from his strong morals. His relationship with Dolores, played by Evan Rachel Wood is also fascinating, especially as Dolores is rapidly evolving and becoming more self-aware with each episode that passes.

Dolores in Westworld Season 1 Episode 5 Contrapasso

Again, Hopkins is the Star of Westworld

Still, the best part of this show is the character of Robert Ford played by the brilliant Anthony Hopkins. I have praised Hopkins in my previous reviews of Westworld and he continues to enhance the show in these episodes where we see a vulnerable side to his character in both episodes. In fact, some of the scenes where we saw this vulnerability were really sad and made me feel a deeper connection towards Ford even though he is a morally ambiguous character.

Still, while we saw this different side to Ford, he still showed his power within the park, especially in his interaction with Ed Harris’ Man in Black in ‘Contrapasso’ which was fantastic. In this scene, we learnt more about the history of the park, the state of the outside world and the motivation of these characters which do seem to differ which goes against my previous opinion that they wanted the same thing.

Additionally, we see that Arnold is having a greater impact within Westworld and I have my doubts about just how ‘dead’ he is due to what occurred in these episodes, especially ‘The Adversary‘ which itself had my favourite opening scene of the show so far thanks to the use of music. Certainly, the piano renditions of contemporary music have been a wonderful element of this show and it was great again in the beginning of ‘The Adversary’ with the use of ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ by Radiohead. It’s a song which perfectly fitted the tone of the episode and, if you think about it, the show as a whole.

Maeve in Westworld Season 1 Episode 6 The Adversary

Maeve and Teddy

Another great thing within these episodes was the character of Maeve, played by Thandie Newton, who is becoming an increasingly important character in Westworld. Her arc in these two episodes heavily suggested that she will have a significant bearing on the exciting events to come. Additionally, Teddy, played by James Marsden, is also being developed as a character that has a greater purpose and his use of a certain weapon in ‘The Adversary’ was great to watch and reminded me of playing Red Dead Redemption (which is always a good thing!).

All of what was discussed above continued the good work of the previous episodes and made these two episodes fantastic and, in my opinion, the best this show has given us so far. Still, even though these episodes were the strongest in the show so far, I feel as though Westworld will continue to improve as we edge closer to the end of this season. We have four more episodes to go and I am expecting greater things to come.

Star Wars Rebels: Season 3 Episode 7 (Television Review) – A Fun Side Story

Imperial Supercommandos’ was the title of this episode of Star Wars Rebels and the focus was on Sabine and the Mandalorians which is the race that Boba Fett belonged too (Well, he did until the Prequels ruined him and made him just a generic clone of his Dad). We are now well into Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels which, on the whole, has been an improvement over Season 2 and even side story episodes like ‘The Last Battle’ have been entertaining and worthwhile in their own right.

Gar Saxon in Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Episode 7 Imperial Supercommandos

My Thoughts on ‘Imperial Supercommandos’

This episode is another side story that is self-contained and entertaining. One of the positive aspects of this episode was that we learnt more about Sabine’s background in terms of her past and also her mother who is bound to show up in a future episode. It was really good to see some character development with Sabine who I hope has a bigger presence in Season 3 going forward.

Additionally, we also saw the return of Fenn Rau who was first introduced in Season 2 in ‘The Protector of Concord Dawn’. It was nice to see that he was not a throwaway character and his arc in this episode leads me to believe that he will become a more important character in the future. While he probably won’t appear in every episode, I have little doubt that he will be more involved in the show in relation to the wider conflict between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire.

Ezra, Chopper and Gar Saxon in Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Episode 7 Imperial Supercommandos

These were the most interesting developments in this episode which are most likely going to have some importance in the future. Nevertheless, this episode still took place away from the main story-lines in this season and, while it is not a filler episode, it does make me wish that we can get back to focusing on other elements of the show such as Maul and Thrawn sooner rather than later.

I understand the need for episodes like ‘Imperial Supercommandos’ but I just hope they are not the majority of episodes going forward. Overall, while this episode was not part of the main story-lines within Star Wars Rebels, it was a fun side-story with interesting developments for both Sabine and Fenn Rau which I’m sure will be important in later episodes.

Queen of Katwe (Film Review) – A Feel Good Film with Great Performances

Queen of Katwe is a biographical sports drama directed by Mira Nair, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o and Madina Nalwanga. Nalwanga makes her feature film debut in Queen of Katwe and stars as Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl living in Katwe which is the largest slum in Kampala.

This film tells the true story of Mutesi who learns to play chess and reaches such a high level that she could become a Woman Candidate Master and escape from poverty and the harshness of life in Katwe for herself and her family. Nyong’o stars as the mother of Mutesi while Oyelowo plays the role of Robert Katende, Mutesi’s chess coach.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Queen of Katwe

My interest in seeing this film was largely down to the impressive cast. Certainly, Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo are highly talented and have been brilliant in other films, especially Oyelowo who was fantastic in The Butler and in portraying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. Additionally, this film had been receiving critical praise prior to its release which only served to enhance my anticipation and give me a sense that Queen of Katwe was, at the very least, going to be good.

Madina Nalwanga as Phiona Mutesi in Queen of Katwe

My Thoughts on Queen of Katwe

I am pleased to say that Queen of Katwe is a very good film and this is largely down to the excellent performances. Madina Nalwanga is really good which is quite remarkable considering that this is her feature film debut. She gives a performance beyond her years and I hope to see more of her in the future. Nevertheless, while Nalwanga is really good, Nyong’o and Oyelowo are the stars of this film. They give the film class and help to captivate the audience and make them become emotionally invested in a story which has a good balance of dramatic and light-hearted moments.

Moreover, the themes which are present in Queen of Katwe help to make this a feel-good film which is something we all need considering everything that has happened in the world recently. Evidently, there a lot of good things in this film. However, if I was to pick out one thing that I think could have been improved it would be the running time. This film did feel a bit too long and I feel that certain things could have been trimmed and cut to reduce the running time by 10-15 minutes. This would have made Queen of Katwe tighter in its storytelling.

Madina Nalwanga and Lupita Nyong'o in Queen of Katwe

Still, this is a small, personal negative which does not take from the overall quality of the film. Certainly, Queen of Katwe is one of this year’s more uplifting films with excellent performances by Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo, a really good debut by Madina Nalwanga and a positive message is showcased at a time of negativity. If you are looking for a film which will inspire you and improve your mood, then Queen of Katwe will certainly do the job.

Gears of War 4 (Video Game Campaign Review) – ‘The Force Awakens’ of the Franchise

Gears of War 4 is a third-person shooter video game for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One. It is the fourth main instalment in the series and the first not to be developed by Epic Games. Instead, The Coalition have taken over development of the Gears of War franchise with this particular campaign taking place 25 years after the events of Gears of War 3 which heralded the destruction of the Locust and the Lambent. The protagonist of this game is J. D. Fenix, son of Marcus Fenix, who has to deal with a new threat to humanity known as The Swarm with the help of his friends Del and Kait.

The Swarm in Gears of War 4

My Views on the Gears of War Franchise

For me personally, Gears of War 1, 2 and 3 (the ‘original trilogy’) are video games with fantastic campaigns (Gears of War: Judgement…..you’re decent but not as good as the games in the main saga). Within these games, the continuous story-line was engaging, the characters were really likeable, the weapons were varied and the gameplay was very unique to other shooters. All of this made Gears of War standout as one of the elite shooters in the video games industry. Moreover, the games in the main saga (sorry Judgement!) got progressively better both with storytelling, graphics and gameplay.

My Expectation and Thoughts on Gears of War 4

Because of this, I was really looking forward to the release of Gears of War 4 to see if the campaign could successfully build upon the standard set by the ‘Original Trilogy’. I have to say, what Gears of War 4 does is strikingly similar to what Star Wars: The Force Awakens did for the Star Wars franchise. In essence, Gears of War 4 is a passing of the torch to a new generation of heroes. It draws inspiration from the first game in the franchise while still being able to add new elements to make it stand on its own two feet.

Sound familiar to what a certain film did in December 2015?

J. D. Fenix, the son of Marcus Fenix, in Gears of War 4

Subsequently, while I find the campaign in Gears of War 4 to not reach the same level of quality of the ‘Original Trilogy’ (just like The Force Awakens), it is still a really good campaign and a worthy addition to the franchise which sets up exciting new narratives (just like The Force Awakens). Certainly, there are a lot of positive elements within this campaign. The graphics are the best in a Gears of War game so far and the gameplay is just as good and varied as it has been in every Gears of War game.

The Weapons and The Characters

Additionally, the new weapons in the campaign add a lot of variety, especially the Buzzkill which fires ricocheting saw-blades (which is….you know…awesome!) Still, the best part of this campaign was, for me personally, the new characters. I really like the dynamic between the new characters, particularly between J. D. and Del. Their dialogue provided some good comedic relief in times of peril.

J. D., Del and Kait in Gears of War 4

The game also finds a nice balance of mixing new characters and old characters together (just like The Force Awakens!) which enhances the story and the emotional pull for fans of the franchise like me. This is particularly evident in the prologue but it is a common theme throughout the campaign. It really pulls on your heartstrings and the way the campaign ends sets it up nicely for new stories even though the end was, in my opinion, quite abrupt.

However, that is a small nit-pick in what is otherwise a great first effort by The Coalition. Overall, the campaign in Gears of War 4 accomplishes the same feats that The Force Awakens did for the Star Wars franchise. It pays respect to what has come before while, at the same time, it stands on its own two feet by introducing new elements within its story and setting up exciting new adventures to tell in future instalments. If you are a fan of Gears of War, then you must play this campaign.

Doctor Strange (Film Review) – Unique and Familiar

Doctor Strange is a superhero film directed by Scott Derrickson which stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton and Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon who suffers a tragic car accident which ends his career and guides him down a desperate path which eventually leads him to studying the mystic arts from the Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton. This is the fourteenth film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and I was curious to see if Marvel could continue its streak of making consistently good films.

The Ancient One teaches the Mystic Arts to Doctor Strange

My Thoughts on Doctor Strange

I am pleased to say that they have and they have done it in a very unique but familiar way. The uniqueness of Doctor Strange is purely down to its stunning visuals. Honestly, I struggle to think of another film which has better visual effects than Doctor Strange. It is like Inception but on steroids and LSD.

Watching Doctor Strange was an enthralling experience and some of the things which are set up in this film are very new and have the potential to take the MCU in a very strange direction (I promise no pun was intended!). I also thought that the performances in this film were excellent across the board, particularly from Cumberbatch and Swinton. Still, good performances in an MCU film are a normal expectation nowadays.

This brings us unto the elements of Doctor Strange which feel very familiar in a MCU film. Firstly, the humour in this film was, for the most part, very good. Secondly, the structure of this film was very formulaic but well executed in terms of telling an origin story. These were the positive aspects of the film which felt familiar.

Again, A Weak Villain

However, the negative aspect of this familiarity was that the villain, played by Mads Mikkelsen was very forgettable. While this is the norm in MCU films, it was a real shame considering that Mikkelsen has played really captivating antagonists in the past such as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. He felt a bit wasted in this film.

Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius in Doctor Strange

Still, weak villains in the MCU have not hugely affected the overall quality of MCU films in the past and they are not about to with Doctor Strange. Overall, Doctor Strange has some unique, new and exciting elements which elevate the film to a place where its familiar aspects, both positive and negative, do not diminish the quality of the film. For me personally, this is a very good film which I would highly recommend to both hardcore and casual fans of the MCU.

Westworld: Season 1 Episode 4 (Television Review) – Lore, Motivations and Awareness

Westworld is a slow television show. Anyone who is watching this show knows this and while this may be frustrating for some, I find it to be necessary. This is due to the fact that the lore of Westworld is so deep, layered and embedded into the storytelling that it would be foolish to rush a show like this.

As I have said before, we are slowly building to an exciting climax (I hope anyway!) which means that the show, for now, must rely on aspects such as the quality of its visuals, the acting prowess of its main characters and character development and these were abundant in this episode.

Clementine Pennyfeather shot in Westworld Season 1 Episode 4 Dissonance Theory

Certainly, the cinematography is fantastic in this episode as it has been in every episode so far. You can tell that a lot of time was spent to make sure that each shot looks as good as it can be and it is a great tool which can be used to tell the story. Still, the visuals are a luxury in this aspect. There is really no necessity for this to occur considering that the acting is as good as it is, especially from Anthony Hopkins.

Hopkins is the Star of Westworld

Without a doubt, Hopkins is my favourite part of Westworld. He is extremely captivating and his monologue in this episode was delivered with such calculated class that it is impossible not to be enthralled by him. He elevates the standard of this show to such a degree that it is easy to forget that the cast around him is just as impressive.

Moreover, the overriding message I got from this episode was that the motivations of these characters are becoming more apparent and that, for me personally, the characters played by Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris want the same things.

Man in Black in Westworld Season 1 Episode 4 Dissonance Theory

The Hosts Are Developing

The other thing I took away from this episode is that the A.I in the park, i.e. the hosts, are dangerously becoming much more self-aware about their reality which builds upon the themes which were established in the previous episodes such as free will. I do not think it will be long until we see the hosts progress to a stage where they start to openly rebel and cause utter chaos, though something tells me that the humans in this show will further exacerbate the issue.

Overall, this episode built upon the foundations of the first three episodes while still being able to deliver the high level of quality in its visuals, acting, world-building and patient storytelling.

Star Wars Rebels: Season 3 Episodes 1-6 (Television Review) – A Strong Start That Expands Star Wars Lore

Star Wars Rebels is a show which has become progressively better. While this should be the normal expectation for every show, it is much easier to say than it is to pull off in practice which is a credit to the talented people behind Star Wars Rebels. The show has gradually improved in terms of its animation, its storytelling and, most importantly, its consistency.

Season 1 was a very mixed season with some episodes being great while others were just filler. Season 2 was a much improved effort with better story-lines, character arcs and world-building and Season 3 has continued this upward trend.

My Thoughts on Season 3 Episodes 1-6 of Star Wars Rebels

Certainly, the start of Season 3 is, for me personally, the strongest we have had to date in Star Wars Rebels, especially in terms of world-building. The episodes released so far have added to the mythology of Star Wars by, for the most part, strongly focusing on the main story-lines that the show has set up.

These story-lines include the relationship between Kanan and Ezra, Ezra’s flirtations with the Dark Side and the overriding focus of the show which is the birth of the Rebel Alliance. Indeed, so far in Season 3 we have found out how the Rebel Alliance were able to gain Y-Wings (which would be used for the assault on the First Death Star) and how Wedge Antilles (the unsung hero of the Original Trilogy) was recruited into the Rebel Alliance.

Ezra in Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Episode 1 and 2 Steps Into Shadow

Thrawn

Nevertheless, the strongest elements of Season 3 have been seen when we focus on arcs involving the main antagonists such as Grand Admiral Thrawn. For those who don’t know, Thrawn was one of, if not THE most beloved character in the old Star Wars Expanded Universe. The old-EU was re-branded as Legends in 2014 and, as a result, it was no longer canon which therefore meant that Thrawn was no longer canon.

However, the beauty of this was that Lucasfilm, if they wanted, could cherry-pick from this wide range of material and add particular elements of the old-EU into new-canon story-lines told in books, comics, video games or TV shows such as Rebels. They made the great decision to cherry-pick Thrawn and make him a part of Rebels. While he now exists in a new period of time, this popular character is now canon to the delight of many who adored him in the old-EU.

Hera Syndulla and Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Episode 5 Hera's Heroes

Personally, I had never delved too deep into the old-EU (partly because it was so convoluted and confusing) so I never had an affinity with Thrawn like other Star Wars fans did….until now!!! Undoubtedly, he has been my favourite part of Season 3.

The character of Thrawn is cunning, calculated, articulate and a very layered villain which I believe has been lacking from Star Wars Rebels, at least on a consistent basis. Sure, we had the Inquisitor in Season 1 and Darth Vader in a few episodes in Season 2 but we have not had a long-standing villainous presence in Rebels.

Maul

However, now we have Thrawn who I think (and hope!) will be a big part of this show for the foreseeable future. In addition to Thrawn, we have Maul (formerly Darth) who will also play the role of antagonist in Season 3, although probably to a much lesser extent than Thrawn.

Nevertheless, Maul was in my favourite episode of Season 3 so far (‘The Holocrons of Fate’) and the way that episode played out expanded the lore of Star Wars and sets up some really exciting things for the future. When we put all of these things together, Season 3 has been great so far.

Still, it is not without fault but, for me personally, this is confined to the most recent episode (‘The Last Battle‘). The purpose of this episode was to bring closure to The Clone Wars and, in essence, the Prequels (REJOICE!!!!!!!). Still, why this thought gives me great feelings of joy, it did mean that this episode was a distraction from the main story arcs in this show which we discussed above.

Maul in Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Episode 3 The Holocrons of Fate

However, despite this and the amount of Prequel influences in this episode, it was enjoyable. In particular, the humour was very good in the fact that this episode poked fun at the battle droids (the roger roger’s) and their stupidity both in the way they act and they’re creation by George Lucas in the first place. At least that’s how I saw it. Additionally, Ezra’s thoughts about the meaning of The Clone Wars along with the themes of PTSD and letting go of the past gave the episode depth and a mature, poignant message.

Therefore, even with this episode, it was still able to add something to the Star Wars universe. Overall, Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels has started in a very strong way by, on the whole, pushing the main story arcs within the show forward while still being able to add to the lore of Star Wars. Moreover, the addition of Thrawn and the use of Maul in these early episodes give me hope that this consistency in quality will continue throughout the season.

American Honey (Film Review) – Weird, Rewarding At Times But A Bit Of A Muddled Slog

American Honey is a drama directed by Andrea Arnold which stars Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf in leading roles. Lane plays the character of Star, an impoverished teenager who joins a group of misfits travelling across the United States selling magazines by any means necessary in order to survive and live. LaBeouf plays Jake, who is Lane’s eccentric, cocky mentor and love interest.

My Knowledge and Expectation of American Honey

This was a film which had gained quite a bit of buzz coming out of Cannes and Toronto Film Festival. Indeed, it won Cannes Film Festival’s Jury Prize, with particular praise going towards Sasha Lane’s performance in the film. Moreover, film critics/pundits whose views I highly respect and admire found American Honey to be a very pleasant experience. As such, I was keen on seeing this film.

Sasha and Shia in American Honey on top of a Van

My Thoughts on American Honey

On the whole, I found the film to be weird but enjoyable in parts. Certainly, Lane and LaBeouf are very charismatic and captivating in the film. Remarkably, this is Lane’s debut in a film although you would never suspect that while you’re watching American Honey as her performance is that impressive and believable. If she can keep up this standard of acting then she has a very promising career in front of her. Her relationship with LaBeouf was one of the most engrossing in the film.

Still, where American Honey really shines is with its use of music which is an intrinsic part of the story-telling. The soundtrack has songs from a great variety of genres and this gives the film character, especially when it is used when the group is together.  In fact, one scene in American Honey strongly reminded me of the scene in Almost Famous where the band Stillwater sing along to Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’. It was my favourite scene of that film and the way it was echoed in American Honey is fantastic, especially as it showed the camaraderie within the group.

Indeed, the best parts of American Honey where when the whole crew were together and sharing stories and experiences with each other. It helped us form a bond with them and I just wish that the film focused more on the crew rather than constantly shifting to other elements of the film which, for me, held it back from reaching its full potential.

Teenagers in American Honey

The Flaws of American Honey

Truthfully, American Honey has a very loose flow which works for a while but this leads the film to become confused in tone.  Ultimately, this meant that the film took risks with its story and not all of them paid off. There were some unnecessary parts in American Honey which could have been cut out to make the story tighter and keep the tone consistent. Moreover, it would have reduced the running time which, for a film like this, is too long and expects a lot of patience from its audience.

Because of this, some will find this film to be a bit boring and plodding. However, there are enough enjoyable elements and ideas within the film to make this experience worthwhile. American Honey is not for everyone but you can find elements in the film that will keep you engaged. Whether it be the music, the performances, the interactions between the group or perhaps the harsh look at American life for the underprivileged, you can find a lot of good things within American Honey which ultimately means that the viewing experience will be rewarding at its best and muddled at its worst.

Westworld: Season 1 Episodes 1-3 (Television Review) – An Impressive Start Which Has Me Excited Yet Nervous

Westworld has been one of the most anticipated shows of the year which, in normal circumstances, would be a remarkable achievement. Certainly, you would never expect a TV show based of a sci-fi film which was released in 1973 to garner the amount of anticipation it had prior to its release on HBO. However, the cast, the people behind the shows inception along with the fantastic trailers which have been released have got fellow nerds like myself super excited to see what Westworld has to offer.

Dolores and Teddy in Westworld Episode 1 The Original

Indeed, when you have a show created by Jonathan Nolan, brother of Christopher, executive produced by J. J. Abrams and Jerry Weintraub which stars Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright and Ed Harris, it deserves attention. Moreover, it also gives the show a very high level of expectation which has to be delivered upon, especially as HBO probably hopes that Westworld will have enough quality to lessen the blow which will eventually come once Game of Thrones ends.

My Thoughts on Episodes 1-3 of Westworld

I have to say, from the three episodes released so far, the signs are very promising. Westworld has captivated me from the very beginning. Visually, the show is stunning and the acting is absolutely superb, especially from Hopkins and Wright who are brilliant in their roles. The characters in this show are wonderfully introduced in the pilot and, in the following episodes, we delve deeper into their back-stories (even though some never existed in the first place!) and their motives. Yet we still don’t know the whole picture which is fantastic as it hooks us in and builds anticipation for future episodes.

The main reason why the cast give such commanding performances is because the way this show is written gives us an indication that these characters and world have depth. While the pacing will be slow for some, the themes present in Westworld are interwoven in such a way that, for me personally, I never find myself to be bored or not invested in the story and the characters. Indeed, Westworld is an immersive, layered show which draws inspiration from a variety of genres and it touches on very important themes.

William in Westworld Episode 2 Chestnut

These themes range from free will, control, technological progress, the nature of humanity and artificial intelligence. There is so much in play at this stage of the show and it leaves me excited for more. Nevertheless, the one thing which leads to be cautious is that another show, similar in nature to Westworld, left the same impression on me at the start but, in the end, it left me bitterly disappointed.

What was this show?

That show was Battlestar Galactica. This was a show that touched on many of the same themes as Westworld does and, like Westworld, it started brilliantly. Undoubtedly, the mini-series which kicked off Battlestar Galactica and the first episode of its first season was some of the best and most captivating television I had ever seen. However, it never recaptured that level of brilliance, at least on a consistent basis. For me personally, the direction Battlestar Galactica went in became scattered, confused and it ended on so many loose ends that I couldn’t help but feel it was a show which was wasted potential.

Robert Ford in Westworld Episode 3 The Stray

I hope Westworld does not go down the same path. There is so much potential which they can build upon as the series progresses. I hope it maintains the standard set by these first three episodes and becomes HBO’s next flagship show for years to come. For now, the show has started off on a very strong note and I highly recommend that you check it out.