Based on the film written by best-selling author Michael Crichton (ER, Jurassic Park films), Westworld is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and a reimagined past, the series explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.
"And the second time?"
"Went straight evil. Best two weeks of my life."
This was an exciting year for great television. A big part of that excitement came from HBO's Westworld. I loved every minute of it. It's high concept science fiction that delivers the goods while keeping your eyes pinned to the television through each episode. For my complete thoughts and musings about this first season, check out my review for the 4K Ultra HD Limited Edition Tin.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Westworld arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Warner Bros in a three-disc Blu-ray + Digital set. The discs are housed in a standard Blu-ray case with slipcover packaging. Pressed onto three Region Free BD-50 discs, each disc opens directly to their respective animated main menu screen with traditional navigation options. Bonus features are found throughout each disc.
Westworld gallops onto Blu-ray with a pleasing 1.78:1 1080p transfer. Shot on film, this series was one of the most expensive shows produced by HBO, and it shows! This is a show that is bathed in intricate costumes, incredible makeup work, as well as beautiful production design. Details are impeccable allowing you to absorb all of these elements. Colors are a real stand out feature as the park gets to enjoy warmer colors compared to the cool sterile blue tones of the park's administration and management facilities. There is a great amount of primary presence with terrific pops of blues and yellow/browns to make the most of the western setting. Black levels are deep and inky giving the image a terrific sense of depth and dimension. The scenes within the "maintenance" rooms for the attractions are cast in an eerie black, blue, and grey tone that gives you a great sense of expanse while also feeling claustrophobic. Considering this is an HBO show, the success of this transfer comes as little surprise as they've been knocking the ball out of the Blu-ray park for some time.
Westworld arrives on Blu-ray with a pretty standard but still very good English DTS-HD MA 5.1mix. One thing I loved about this mix is the sense of atmosphere and space it evoked. While the dialogue is often spot on, the scoring terrific, and the sound effects are great, it's the little sounds like gusts of wind or bits of grit and sand under feet or blades of grass rustling that really sucks you into the audio. So kudos to the show's sound engineers for doing a bang up job! That being said, there were a few moments I felt like I had a hard time hearing some lines of dialogue. Thankfully, these were pieces that were relatively unimportant and didn't require me to pop the volume up. Imaging is solid all around as there is plenty of activity to give this mix a great sense of direction throughout.
All around a solid mix, but what a shame that the 4K Blu-ray's Dolby Atmos mix isn't included here. Warners used to be a big proponent of the format on Blu-ray, and it's, honestly, a much better, reference-quality mix. Studios shouldn't be doing this to their HD-focused customers.
Westworld arrives with an array of decent bonus features. There's not a lot here that will light the world on fire, there's a lot of the typical EPK material here, but there are some genuinely decent nuggets of stuff making these features worth picking through - even if some of them are on the brief side of things.
About the Series (HD 2:11)
An Invitation to the Set (HD 2:14)
The Big Moment (HD 3:49) This feature is a pretty cool - yet brief - look at two particular important scenes in the show.
Welcome to Westworld (HD 7:41)
Realize the Dream: The First Week on the Set of Westworld (HD 11:20) This is a pretty great behind the scenes look at the show and pulls away from the typical EPK format.
Imagining the Main Title (HD 14:06) This is a pretty great look at what inspired the opening credits sequence.
Reality of A.I.: Westworld (HD 4:29)
The Big Moment (HD 4:33) Like the same feature on Disc One, this feature briefly looks at three key scenes from the show and their impact on the characters.
Gag Reel (HD 1:36) Unlike other gag reels, this one is played up to dramatic effect with key lines of dialogue and moments followed by a quick gaff and it's actually pretty damn funny.
The Big Moment (HD 6:12) Two scenes of particular importance are looked at here.
The Key to the Chords (HD 8:03) This is a pretty cool look at the symbolism behind the player piano and the score Ramin Djawadi employs for the show.
Crafting the Narrative (HD 29:15) This is easily the best bonus feature of the bunch as Nolan and Joy discuss the show in a commentary during the final episode.
When Westworld was announced, I wasn't sure what to expect. I honestly hoped for the best, but I didn't think there could be much material to be mined from the original film. Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy and the rest of the talented production team behind the show had a few tricks and surprises up their sleeves. The show works as a commentary on contemporary times and the exploitation of others for entertainment value while also managing to offer up more than a few striking and outright creepy ideas about the inherent dangers of artificial intelligence. It's less of a remake of the original Yul Brynner classic and more of an expansion upon the concept. It's its own beast entirely and can easily be enjoyed separately.
Warner Brothers and HBO have delivered a quality Blu-ray release with a terrific A/V presentation (despite lacking a Dolby Atmos soundtrack option) as well as a host of bonus features to pick through making it solid title to call highly recommended.