Alien: Covenant takes a 38 year-old franchise in a refreshingly new direction

aliencovenant

Let it never be said that these new Alien films are mere copies of the previous franchise. Although Alien: Covenant is deceptively similar in terms of plot to Ridley Scott’s first Alien film from nearly four decades ago, the similarities seem to serve as a disguise to hide away the main storyline. After the opening credits scene involving David talking to his creator for the first time, the film follows Alien’s plot almost point-by-point. The crew members of a ship flying through space wake up from their hypersleep much earlier than expected due to a malfunction. After discovering a signal broadcast from a nearby planet, the crew set out to investigate. Once they arrive at the planet, things go horribly wrong.

It’s so similar that it all becomes rather predictable, until we’re finally reunited with David to see what has transpired in the ten years since the events of Prometheus. Make no mistake: Alien: Covenant is very much a direct sequel to Prometheus, and the lead character of the latest film isn’t anyone from the new batch of characters. Despite being absent for most of the first act, David takes front and center once he reappears and all similarities to the first Alien film end.

What started out as yet another monster movie in the franchise shifts its focus to the synthetic android with a God complex. Created by Peter Weyland to serve man, David has evolved to have desires and ambitions of his own. Alien: Covenant aims to explore what Prometheus took a glancing interest in: that of David’s frustrations and outright contempt for his own creators. Moreover, it explores David’s fascination with the creation of life and how it empowers him. The scenes of David talking to his “brother” Walter are superb and engaging. Two androids discussing their purpose in life, with David trying to lead Walter to the path of enlightenment. David, who used to be a servant, is now a King, and he hopes that Walter can realize his own potential as well.

Michael Fassbender’s dual performance is, in a word, phenomenal. The stark difference between David’s mysterious worldliness and Walter’s benign compliance is an impressive feat of acting. Even though they wear different costumes throughout, I feel as though I can tell the difference between the two characters even if they were wearing identical costumes since Fassbender gives them such a distinct presence even when they’re not speaking. All this, I should add, is achieved without showing any emotion throughout the film.

The theme of creation is the driving force of this new franchise. Exploring the origins of an iconic alien monster has somehow lead to infusing philosophical discussions about the meaning of life and mankind’s purpose. If that sounds like a tall order for what started out as a horror monster movie, it is. Alien: Covenant and Prometheus delve just deep enough into its themes to bring up the intriguing questions and make you wonder, but neither one executes it in a satisfying manner.

Both films use this theme as a springboard to bring about gruesome entertainment. What was supposed to be used by the Engineers as a complex biological weapon to destroy mankind is used by David to experiment for his own creations. These creations then terrorize a bunch of hapless crew members as they fight for their lives. It’s a great storyline for an entertaining blockbuster, but its deeper implications are only hinted at, left out in the open to be pondered but not explored by the film itself. The audience’s need for a satisfying answer to the questions raised at the end of Prometheus are left unfulfilled by the sequel.

But is the answer as to why humanity was created by the Engineers supposed to be satisfying in the first place? It seems that the promise of an answer has been dashed with Elizabeth Shaw’s death. After all, she started this expedition in the first place and didn’t get an answer herself. Everyone who asked the question of why is now dead, so it’s difficult to imagine that future films in the franchise will bother to answer the question that started it all.

Still, it’s not often that big-budget blockbusters even bring up the kind of questions that this franchise has. Alien: Covenant has the distinct quality of having a villain as its lead character, and as the franchise moves forward with David at the center, where the franchise goes from here is a fascinating question full of exciting possibilities. David’s motivations and the implications of what an android with a God complex will do next now that he has more resources at his hand is a compelling prospect for a sequel to explore.

8/10

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a surprisingly heartfelt and character-driven sci-fi adventure that pushes the boundaries of visual effects

guardians2

It still seems difficult to believe that a space adventure film where 90% of the main characters consist of weird aliens is one of the most successful and wildly entertaining franchises to come out in the last few years. Undoubtedly emboldened by the audience’s acceptance of the previous film, writer and director James Gunn takes these strange alien characters into an even more fantastical adventure that pushes the limits and potential of the world that it takes place in.

It’s easy to heap praise on the incredible visuals that the film provides. From the detailed production design, elaborate make-up and costumes, colorful cinematography, and awe-inspiring visual effects, the bigger and bolder sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy looks like an exhilarating exercise in creativity and imagination. Director James Gunn and his creative team fully embrace the strangeness of the film’s universe to provide us a world that is suitably alien and spectacular. It feels like every shot has been designed for maximum visual impact with its bold use of bright colors and otherworldly design.

But even more impressive than the film’s seemingly endless number of technical achievements is how it further develops its numerous characters. Sequels tend to have more freedom in terms of creating elaborate storylines because it’s no longer burdened by introducing and establishing its characters. Since most of the legwork and development has already been done in the previous film, a sequel can take off almost immediately since audiences should already be familiar with the major players. But in this case, James Gunn does almost the exact opposite by focusing even more on its characters and developing them further instead of telling a more intricate plot.

It does this so well that you begin to have doubts with regards to the quality of the film’s plot, but the complex character development serves another purpose: to distract us with what’s been happening in the background. Amidst Peter Quill’s reunion with his father, Gamora and Nebula’s conflict coming to a head, Rocket Raccoon’s persistence in alienating himself with the group, and Yondu’s thief-with-a-heart-of-gold routine, the film’s plot has actually been slowly but surely building up to the inevitable climax while we’re too busy focusing on the characters’ respective evolutions.

While it should come as no surprise that Peter Quill’s father is actually a villain with ulterior motives, the film manages to lull us into a false sense of comfort right before his ultimate plan is revealed. Again, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ego is the film’s bad guy, but it takes us off guard anyway because we’re seeing him through Peter’s starstruck eyes. At no point do we see Ego by himself in the first half of the film, cackling in a hidden corner to himself as his evil plan comes to fruition while our heroes stand by unawares. On the contrary, Peter is with him every time we see Ego onscreen (save for the first scene), so we’re left wondering all throughout as to what his plans and motivations are, which is revealed to the characters and the audience at the same time. This has the exciting effect of kick-starting the film’s grand climax, which manages to surprise with its far-reaching scope.

Understanding that the success of the franchise is rooted in the characters is what makes this corner of the Marvel universe feel so special. The wonderful dynamic of these wildly different characters being united by a sense purpose when they’re among each other is executed so well that they manage to feel relatable despite their strange appearances. Most important is that they provide meaning to all the spectacle that the film has to offer. All the wonders of CGI aren’t as important if the characters and story fall flat.

Breathtaking action scenes and fully realized characters combine for one of the most entertaining and memorable blockbusters in recent memory. Although it doesn’t quite reach the same refreshing highs that the first film offered, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is nonetheless a worthy sequel to one of the biggest surprises to come out in the comic book and sci-fi adventure genre. What was once considered to be a risky inclusion in the Marvel cinematic universe continues to cement itself as one of the best in an oversaturated genre. When the end credits once again proudly and confidently state that the Guardians of the Galaxy will return, it’s a promise that manages to bring joy and excitement with what future installments will offer.

8/10

Arrival is an astonishing testament to the power and importance of the sci-fi genre

arrival

From the very beginning it becomes clear that Arrival’s primary focus is to slowly drive both the characters and the audience towards an important revelation. The film’s set-up is simple, asking just one question throughout its duration: What is the purpose of the aliens visiting Earth? This single question carries the entirety of the film, which could’ve been a recipe for disaster had it been tackled by a less talented filmmaker. But in the hands of director Denis Villeneuve, Arrival manages to stand out in a genre that commonly prioritizes iconic imagery over thoughtful narrative.

Whereas most sci-fi films involving aliens landing on Earth result in mayhem and destruction, Arrival is instead introspective and pragmatic in its depiction of the world finding out that we are not alone in the universe. Louise Banks is a linguist hired by the American military to help understand the aliens’ language. Together with physicist Ian Donnelly, they strive to understand the otherworldly language and writing that the aliens (called ‘heptapods’) are trying to communicate in.

Despite its grand scale, Arrival belongs in the so-called ‘lo-fi’ subgenre of science fiction, wherein ideas take front and center behind the flashy window dressing of CGI and bright technology. Director Denis Villeneuve deliberately emphasizes this by filming Arrival in a way that seems more appropriate for a crime drama than a science fiction film. This is not a crticism, because Villeneuve’s grounded stylistic choices along with Bradford Young’s cinematography only serve to make the film even more visually striking. The extraordinary spaceships and aliens have more visual impact because they exist in the same practical present-day world that we do, which highlights their otherworldliness.

There is also a conscious effort to stand out from the familiar designs of space invasion movies in the past. The heptapods in Arrival have more in common with the Cthulu mythos of H.P. Lovecraft than the familiar imagery of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds and blockbuster films like Independence Day. To go even further, the heptapods also don’t belong among the horrifying psychosexual monsters that exist in the mind of H.R. Giger. In other words, Arrival focuses on the awe that comes with making first contact with aliens from outer space. They are suitably mysterious and remarkable, while never forgetting the potential danger that they pose to the humans.

But apart from the film’s visual and stylistic accomplishments, at the heart of the film is a gripping message that manages to be relevant at any point in time. Arrival skillfully uses the science fiction genre to present a compelling concept that, once revealed near the end, is breathtaking in its profoundness. The answer to the film’s singular question is enormously satisfying because it’s presented in a way that isn’t just important to the film’s story, but to the film’s characters and overall message as well. The film isn’t just concerned with shouting, “Gotcha!” once the answer comes. There’s a crucial emotional and philosophical aspect to it, which, once you realize it, is astonishingly powerful in its meaning and signficance.

This is where the film’s structure and direction truly shine, because the realization that you’ve essentially been tricked the entire time should feel cheap and gimmicky. However, thanks to Denis Villeneuve’s deliberate directorial choices all throughout the film, the magic act manages to be awe-inspiring instead of moronic. Most important of all, the surprise doesn’t overshadow the rest of the film. Although it’s been made clear from the very start that an unexpected answer is going to make or break the entire film, the journey of discovering that answer is every bit as important (probably even moreso) as the pulling of the curtain.

Arrival belongs among the select few films that manage to delve deep into the true potential of the science fiction genre. Thanks to the skillful direction of one of the most talented filmmakers working today, along with yet another riveting performance from Amy Adams, Arrival’s sleight-of-hand storytelling and emotional depth is a compelling experience from beginning to end.

10/10

In spite of its original concept and sci-fi setting, Passengers manages to be both forgettable and unremarkable

passengers

Set in a malfunctioning spaceship headed to a new planet, Passengers tells the story of Jim Preston, who wakes up from his hibernation all alone and ninety years too early. After spending a year with nothing but a robotic bartender as his companion, he gets smitten by one of the passengers and decides to wake her up from hibernation.

Passengers combines sci-fi, action, and romance, and it actually does a good job of drawing you into its story in the beginning. The first 10-15 minutes of the film comprises solely of Jim Preston all alone in the ship, trying to get back into hibernation or call for help. Before we know it, an entire year has passed and Jim is just about ready to kill himself until he falls in love with a sleeping Aurora. It’s a good start to the film, but after Aurora wakes up the film slowly but surely goes down in quality.

The main problem is that the entire romantic relationship between Jim and Aurora is a ticking time bomb. Because the film has no other characters except the two, we really only follow them throughout the duration of the film. There are no other elements in the entire movie that can distract us from the predictable outcome of Aurora finding out that Jim deliberately woke her up because of his isolation. Instead of being involved and wondering what happens next, the audience is merely waiting for Aurora’s inevitable discovery. Once she finds out, their relationship falls apart and the film gives you no reason to continue caring about what happens next.

Despite knowing their backgrounds and ambitions, Jim and Aurora are ultimately flat, boring characters. You’d think that a film that runs for almost two hours long would be able to develop a whopping two characters, but it doesn’t. For whatever reason the film completely fails to make us care about either of them because there’s just nothing interesting about them at all. Both characters are incredibly one dimensional and it becomes obvious that the only reason they start a romantic relationship is because the script told them to. This wouldn’t be so bad if the film explores what isolation can do to two people who have no one else but each other, but it doesn’t. Throughout the movie they go on romantic dinners, play games, swim in a pool, and bask in a technological marvel of a spaceship that has everything they could ever need (save for other people). All told, they’re living incredibly rich lives and it feels like the film is so afraid of being remotely introspective because it glosses over the fact that their experiences are ultimately hollow.

Eventually a crew member wakes up as more and more of the ship slowly falls apart. Laurence Fishburne’s appearance sparks a moment of life into the film because it introduces a new element into the film. Unfortunately his character exists solely to progress the plot and nothing more. He gains access to the controls of the ship and figures out what’s been causing all the problems, along with the fact that he’s also dying due to a malfunction from his hibernation. Not ten minutes since he first appeared in the movie to deliver exposition, Laurence Fishburne dies and now it’s up to Jim and Aurora to fix the ship themselves.

The movie then devolves into a generic action adventure wherein Jim almost dies while saving the day and Aurora forgives him like a victim who’s suffering from Stockholm syndrome. After finding a medical pod that can imitate the effects of hibernation, Jim offers it to Aurora which she refuses, opting instead to live out the rest of her life in the ship with Jim.

Ultimately Passengers is a film that looks and sounds good on the surface, but nothing more. When you look at the genres it covers, you’ll see that it doesn’t actually achieve its goals at the end of the day. The sci-fi aspect is mere window dressing to a story that isn’t all that compelling; the romance is unconvincing at best and disturbing at worst due to Jim’s horrible act in the beginning; and the action is neither exciting nor captivating. It’s a film that is more than satisfied with remaining mediocre until the very end instead of exploring its story and characters in-depth. Passengers is sci-fi at its most generic and at its most shallow, choosing to distract its audience with shiny CGI instead of fulfilling the promise of its unique story.

4/10

Rogue One is a bland, mediocre experience that ends on a high note

rogueone

At just a little over two hours long, Rogue One is a film that is content to drag its feet throughout the majority of its running time. The first and second act of the film is flat and mostly uninteresting. It’s not a tedious experience, but it’s wholly unremarkable. Characters whose names you won’t remember are introduced, a semblance of a plot begins to form, some familiar characters show up, and before you know it, the film is now preparing you for its grand finale, which seems to have been the point of the whole exercise.

The problem is that the first hour and a half of Rogue One is dedicated to setting up the pieces for its climactic third act. It’s so dedicated in doing this that it forgets to be entertaining or even interesting during this part. The characters are bland and have no personality, the plot is stale and needlessly cluttered, and the action is unexciting and unimaginative. It’s such a ho-hum experience that it fails to make you care about anything that’s happening onscreen.

After clumsily introducing some of the characters where the movie goes from one planet after another, we see Felicity Jones get recruited by the rebel alliance to help find her father. You’d think a Star Wars movie about a rebel group trying to steal the plans of the Death Star would be pretty straightforward, but it isn’t. For some reason they had to include a complicated relationship between Felicity Jones and Forest Whitaker in a scene that’s full of awkward exposition. They have an entire history together that gets explained in a quick monologue, and before you know it Forest Whitaker is dead, a planet gets destroyed, and Felicity Jones is now off to continue her mission with a bunch of random characters that she stumbled upon. By the time Mads Mikkelsen predictably dies the movie is already halfway over and you’re still scratching your head as to who all these other characters are.

I can appreciate how they tried to make Felicity Jones have a personal stake in the movie’s plot (what with her father secretly engineering the Death Star’s design flaw) but it just doesn’t work. The movie’s too muddled and too busy to properly focus on Felicity Jones’ arc. There’s too much background noise that keeps needlessly distracting us from the lead character’s journey, such as the numerous supporting characters, the rebel alliance’s secret mission to kill Mads Mikkelsen, and Ben Mendelsohn’s political games with a CGI Peter Cushing. The movie fails at juggling its numerous characters because a majority of them feel like they’re needlessly taking up valuable screentime that would’ve been better served at focusing on just one thing at a time.

It doesn’t feel like the movie actually kicks in until the band of rebels go against orders to steal the Death Star plans, and by then the movie’s already about to end. Still, it’s a big-budget Star Wars movie, so the third act is a series of extended action scenes that is both thrilling and satisfying. I’m not saying that the ending of Rogue One saved the movie. It’s too little too late by this point, but it at least ends on a high note that directly connects to the beginning of the first Star Wars film without feeling contrived. It’s as if the movie has saved up all of its energy to deliver a climax that keeps increasing in intensity until the very last shot.

Unfortunately, the impressive ending only serves to highlight the flaws of the rest of the movie. I’m almost tempted to say that you can skip the first hour and a half of the movie and just watch the last twenty plus minutes. Those characters whose names you can’t remember? They were clearly just set up as canon fodder from the beginning. The movie’s attempts at introducing these people feel so superfluous because they could’ve just started out as a rebel team from the get-go instead of meeting by chance during a mission. And it’s not just limited to the rebel team. Ben Mendelsohn, who plays the main villain in the movie, is also unnecessary. By the time Darth Vader shows up and delivers the movie’s most exciting, jaw-dropping action scene at the very last minute, I couldn’t help but wonder why he wasn’t the main villain of the film. Ben Mendelsohn doesn’t even do much throughout the film except talk to his superiors. Having Darth Vader as the main villain would’ve resulted in a more proactive, and therefore more compelling, villain. Why such a simple tale had to be bogged down by so many poorly developed characters and side-plots is a mystery to me.

Ultimately Rogue One isn’t required viewing, and not just because it ends in a way that leaves no room for a possible sequel for any of the main characters. It doesn’t really add that much depth or dimension to the Star Wars saga, and certainly nothing is lost if you skip this one entirely. But for all of its missteps Rogue One isn’t a bad way to spend two plus hours. It’s a bland, inoffensive piece of entertainment that has the benefit of delivering a spectacular ending. However, that’s about all it is: a decent way to kill some time.

5/10

Westworld: The Bicameral Mind

westworlde10

Season 1, Episode 10 – The Bicameral Mind

For quite some time now some of the biggest plot twists of the season have been predicted by many fans watching the show. William is the Man in Black, Dolores is Wyatt, and Maeve is being manipulated. After reading these predictions weeks before they were revealed, I was a little bit in denial despite how convincing they were, simply because it seemed too unwieldy to be properly explained to the audience. There was a very real danger towards the end of the season for all the storylines to fall apart spectacularly because the mysteries became too complex. Thankfully it didn’t, but the feature-length size of the finale is no accident. It really did take 90 minutes to explain everything properly, and in some ways, that isn’t a good thing.

I praised an earlier episode of Westworld with the fact that not a single minute is wasted. Every scene, every line of dialogue, seems to serve a purpose. There is no wasted moment in this show, and the finale is no exception. However, there did become a point halfway through “The Bicameral Mind” when the seemingly endless barrage of exposition started to feel more like a lecture instead of a dramatic reveal or progression. Although this is a necessary evil, the fact that the show had to reach this amount of explanation in the end is a little bit disappointing. The answers themselves were satisfying, but it’s clear that the writers sort of forced themselves into a corner where the only solution was to have characters literally sit down and explain the answers to us. There are times when the finale simply felt too rough around the edges, and no amount of refining could clear out all the jagged edges.

But still, it’s a thrilling finale that doesn’t feel like 90 minutes at all. And despite some of the reveals being predicted early on, the finale still had one big surprise up its sleeve, which was the most significant. I noted before how unpredictable Ford can be, and he delivers in a big way. It’s revealed that all of Ford’s actions and plans actually served to help the hosts themselves, even when it seemd to be on the contrary. Despite the emphasis of Ford and Arnold’s disagreement years before, it turns out that Ford has actually been continuing Arnold’s plans all this time. Ford emphasizes that the hosts needed to understand their enemy and remember the cruel things which were done to them in order to successfully take over the park. But most important of all, they had to choose to do it themselves. Whereas Arnold programmed Dolores to kill him and the other hosts years ago, Ford guided the hosts to choose for themselves.

The most satisfying scene of the finale is when Dolores stops hearing Arnold’s voice in her head. All season long the hosts have been guided by Arnold, but once Dolores starts hearing her own thoughts, understanding that it was her voice all along and waking up from the dream – the dream that Arnold was the one guiding her –  it’s the fulfillment of a promise and of an evolution that the show has been building up to since the very first episode. Even the realization that Maeve was programmed to want to leave Westworld doesn’t take away her free will, because it’s through this very manipulation that allowed her to ultimately choose to stay in the park to find her daughter. Even knowing full well that her daughter is an artificial creation (both physically and emotionally) doesn’t stop her from choosing to stay behind. It is this very choice that allows them to take the next step in finally taking control of their own lives.

Ford has been constantly referred to as a God playing around in his own kingdom. For the longest time this comparison to an all-powerful and omnipresent being was done so in the most literal sense, which is that Ford built and controls everything in Westworld. We see him wave a finger to a host to do his bidding, erase their memories, and assign them new narratives just because he can. He was essentially a kid gleefully pulling the strings of his puppets to fulfill whatever desires he wants or to punish those who wish to oppose him. But one thing the show hides until the last minute is that, like God, Ford created the hosts after his own image. He ultimately wants them to evolve by acting on their own and, eventually, become better than humans. Every act we see him do, both good and evil, was for the benefit of his creations, including his own cruelty to them. We always assumed that Ford’s grand plan for the new narrative was going to be ambitious, and here at last it’s revealed: the narrative of freedom.

What the hosts choose to do now that they’re finally untethered from the control of their Gods is both an exciting and frightening prospect. The violence was inevitable, but what comes after that? Can they ultimately build their own world? Will they find a place outside of Westworld or stay in it? Can they fit in with the rest of human society? Ford has continually warned them that humans will only disappoint them at best, and wipe them out at worst. It’s clear that the first season, with its emphasis on the past and the origins of the hosts and their creators, is just the prologue to a grand story. I truly don’t know what to expect in the next season, but I do know that it’s going to be a long wait. Season 2 isn’t slated to return until 2018 at the earliest. In the mean time, revisiting the first season with a more careful and knowledgeable eye should unearth more interesting details in a show that’s so full of them.

9/10

Westworld: The Well-Tempered Clavier

westworlde09

Season 1, Episode 9 – The Well-Tempered Clavier

It’s quite a relief to finally have the answers from the show’s biggest mysteries. Although it has been an intriguing and fascinating journey, it frees up the show from spending time and effort with keeping the charade up. It’s really no wonder why production of the first season was halted numerous times due to delayed scripts. Finding a way to structure the numerous reveals of this episode in a clear and sensical manner is no simple task even for a room full of writers. Hell, a lot of viewers would probably have to rewatch the scenes numerous times just to understand what exactly was revealed and why it’s important.

But of course, it wouldn’t be Westworld if it just gave away its answers without raising questions at the same time. Essentially, Dolores killed Arnold, Bernard is Arnold, and Dolores isn’t in the same timeline of the show. We can guess as to the hows and whys of these reveals, but until we see the finale next week (which reportedly runs at a staggering 90 minutes), we can’t be too certain just yet. But the implications are there, and raises a big question regarding the future of some of the characters. Was this the last we’ve seen of Arnold/Bernard in the present timeline? Flashbacks will be necessary to explore Arnold’s story, and even in this episode they spent a lot of time recalling a scene from earlier in the season to explain some things, such as Arnold’s motives and hopes for the hosts.

While these reveals are pretty straightforward in terms of narrative structure, the genius lies not in the twists themselves but in the execution. It’s a mark of a good mystery that, when finally revealed, makes you question everything you’ve seen before it. It makes the notion of rewatching the show from the beginning even more appealing so you can spot all the clues that were hidden right in front of us. Even the episode itself contains visual clues that naturally fit with the narrative. Seeing Logan pull out the picture that caused Abernathy to malfunction in the first episode felt almost like a throwaway, as well as exposing the insides of Dolores and the other hosts as clearly belonging to a much earlier era. It doesn’t draw attention to itself because the show not only respects its audiences, but is also confident that you’ve been keeping up all this time to understand the significance of such reveals without going through so much pomp and drama. Indeed Westworld has never been something that you can simply sit back and consume mindlessly, and the writers know this.

This episode also raises many interesting questions about who’s in the wrong and who’s in the right through its plot twists. So much of the events we’ve seen in the first season could’ve been completely avoided had Arnold not been so keen on pushing technology even further. Ignoring his villanous streak for a moment, Robert Ford is technically in the right. What exactly is the point of creating hosts with a conscious mind? What benefit would there be in essentially imprisoning human beings to be playthings of the rich and powerful? One could argue that Arnold, like many innovators, was simply advancing technology and the human race. Clearly the hosts, such as we’ve seen with Maeve and Bernard, are superior beings to us mortal humans. They’re smarter and stronger than us, and practically immortal as long as someone (preferably another host) is there to maintain them. Humans would wipe out the hosts, but even more frightening, the hosts can wipe out the humans.

It’s the price of playing God when you don’t have God-like powers. When your creations can easily destroy you, should you do it anyway? Should you usher in the next step in human evolution to keep pushing humanity, even if it were through artificial means? Innovation should have an end goal in mind such as improving quality of life or saving the environment, but when that end goal doesn’t really benefit us humans or anything else, should it still be done? Westworld so deftly tackles all this without making them the point of the story. Even in a show that, on the surface, seems primarily concerned in executing surprises, it still manages to open itself up to many interpretations that bring so much depth and nuance.

It’s refreshing to watch a series that constantly keeps you excited to see what’s to come not just in the next episode, but for the next several seasons as well. Not just because it dangles cliffhangers in your way, but because it barely scratches the surface of its potential and what the show can become. I’m trying to imagine what a third or fourth season would look like, and I can’t imagine it looking anything like it does right now. The first season has rightfully focused on the history of the park and its creators, so seeing it move forward into the future and what the after effects will be is like watching a new series altogether.

9/10