Peter and his pal John decide to visit the world’s most popular amusement park, Westworld. It is a futuristic life simulator where you get to live your life as a farmer, king, freelancer, etc. It acts as a very expensive vacation which is ultra realistic as androids play the parts of the rest of the town. It is billed as a place where you can do anything without worrying about your conscience or morals. It’s also extremely pricey though and honestly you wouldn’t catch me checking it out even if it was real. You can still have more fun at an arcade with a roll of quarters. Back to the park though. In Westworld, you are able to play as the hero or the villain and by the end of your experience you may even learn a thing or two about yourself. There is only one rule, have fun! Unfortunately, the robots pick up on this message as well. Why let the humans get everything? Why indeed…..
If Westworld is supposed to make you dislike the humans and really root for the robots, then it succeeded quite easily. It goes out of its way to show that all of the humans are fundamentally bad people who will use any excuse to shed their boring 9-5 jobs and become full fledged villains. One guy uses his vacation to cheat on his wife, others use it to murder people and have one night stands with robots, etc. There is nobody to root for except for the robots, but I was probably going to be rooting for them anyway.
Peter is the main character and he’s pretty terrible. He’s portrayed as the average joe, someone you can sit down and have a beer with. He’s in awe of this big amusement park and can’t wait to try it. Once inside, his bad influence of a friend named John shows him how to have fun in all of the wrong ways. Peter quickly picks up on this and becomes just as corrupt. It’s a shame, but the guy had no will power. Also, it was hard to believe that these two were friends since John was basically ignoring Peter the whole time until they actually landed on the island. As bad as Peter was, John could match him step for step. He’s just a terrible collection of the worst tropes for a movie lead and I was anticipating his big duel with the android quite eagerly.
It’s a fairly small cast in this film as those two characters basically get all of the screen time. There’s also a third traveler who is the most corrupt of them all. The robots make sure to deal with him right away though via a stab straight to oblivion. The guy was a terrible fighter though as the android gave him a fighting chance for quite a while. Finally it got tired of the whole thing and just took him down for the count. The main villain was a pretty good robot. He definitely had Peter on the run for quite a while and he’s like an old fashioned terminator. He’s a pretty good shot as well which is useful when you’re in the Wild West setting. None of the other androids got particularly large roles but they were around to help finish the job when necessary.
Unfortunately, the film really stresses the pleasure part of this vacation which drags the film down quite a bit. After all, I think we get the implications of the “You can do whatever you want” message that Westworld gives out. We don’t have to constantly be reminded of it via the two main characters that this means you can have as many fake romances as you want. That’s the element that gets them the most excited along with drinking beer all day and shooting people. It’s certainly not a family friendly destination. It would have been nice if the film could have focused on the fact that you’re essentially living another life for these few days and the thrills of having safe gunfights and old styled competitions.
Also, the concept definitely doesn’t hold up if you actually think about it. The characters are using live ammunition and getting into real fights during their vacation. The guns are set to not work if you target another human, but you can still get hurt during the ballroom brawls. There’s one such fight in this film that lasts for a very long time. The heroes get lucky as they dodge most of the glass cup attacks and don’t get seriously injured, but they could have easily had some broken bones if they missed a step. I guess you may sign a waver or something before entering, but based on John’s reaction to getting bit, it seems that Westworld guarantees you will not be injured. That’s quite the stretch if you ask me.
Also, we see that in real time, a few operators juggle everything around for the various plots to ensure that every guest gets his/her desire. I guess they’ve never had conflicting goals from players since they have a 100% satisfaction rate. Hmmmm, well no need to dwell on that. Lets just say that I wasn’t buying it. The film isn’t super violent or anything. I did assume that Westworld was R to be honest and was surprised that it wasn’t, but I don’t remember any scene in particular being all that gruesome. It was fairly standard action stuff if I remember right. If anything, it’s more the shock of the situation that may get you if you weren’t expecting some big characters to die.
The ending of the film is pretty fitting though. I definitely thought that it was handled well since the humans were already in enemy territory when the androids made their move. The whole thing is pretty realistic even if the engineer who designed the room to only open from the inside should be fired instantly. Poor designs are timeless and we still get them nowadays. I always think doors should open outwards instead of inwards because it’s safer (Infamous factory fires) and more convenient yet people still make it the other way around. It is what it is I suppose.
Overall, I didn’t really care for Westworld. Good (Even if unbelievable) concept, but poor execution. The main problems all can be traced back to Peter and John. They’re just absolutely terrible main characters and the third guy didn’t help their case at all. There’s just too much of a focus on the wrong aspects of Westworld. The special effects were good though and it did have a lot of fun visuals. While I don’t see this ever happening in the real world, we are getting to the point where it could be possible through Virtual Reality. I think it’ll be easy to do such a thing someday, but there will be a ton of risks involved so I certainly wouldn’t be a beta tester. If you want a film where someone gets trapped in a cyber game, check out the new Sword Art Online film. In this case, the game comes to the real world, but it has some similar themes and it’s certainly a lot more enjoyable.