Sunday, September 25, 2016

HBO Asia's "Westworld" Premieres 3 October 2016 - Man vs Machine in the Wild, Wild West

When best-selling author Michael Crichton passed away in 2008, Red Dot Diva was utterly devastated. She was a big fan of his writing and have devoured several of his geeky scifi, medical, techno-thriller-based books - "Jurassic Park", "Timeline" and "Prey" being her favourites - with relish. Many of Michael Crichton's stories were set in a not too distant future and hence, they were like a chilling warning of possible outcomes due to medical or technological advances. It was a little like Black Mirror before there was Black Mirror.

So, when HBO announced that they will be adapting Michael Crichton's "Westworld" movie to a TV series, Red Dot Diva whooped with joy. The 10-episode series, produced by J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, has attracted a cast of fine and award-winning actors including Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris (mmmmmmmm... another of Red Dot Diva's favourites), Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Rodrigo Santoro, Clifton Collins, Jr., Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Tessa Thompson and Sidse Babett Knudse.

To get prepared for the new HBO series, Red Dot Diva got hold of the original 1973 version directed by Michael Crichton, which starred Yul Bynner (as the unrelenting gunslinger android) and James Brolin. Watching the old "science fiction-western" movie which depicted the use of Virtual Reality in an amusement park filled with androids, Red Dot Diva couldn't help but note how technology has grown in the way Michael Crichton saw it. Currently, Virtual Reality is already on the cusp of reality! There were also segments of the movie where the androids' point of view were shown in pixelated format. This visual method has now become a precursor and well-known trope in scifi robot movies (Hi, Terminator!). Ahh, the genius of Michael Crichton!

For many months, HBO's production of "Westworld" was clouded in secrecy and, there were few hints as to how much would be adapted from the original screenplay. Other than the viral news concerning a casting call for actors who were willing to be in sexually explicit scenes, which had SAG-AFTRA highly concerned.

When the recent adult/ red-band trailer for "Westworld" was released, some androids at the theme park were shown to be sexbots, which may fall in line with the expected HBO-standard of nudity and gore in many of their shows. Although, Red Dot Diva is pretty sure that the raunchier scenes would be elegantly-censored in the version screened via HBO Asia.

Even so, from the trailer, the production values of the scifi-western epic is rich and detailed. Red Dot Diva also loves how dark, mysterious and horrifying the trailer's tone and images are suggesting about the series. There are questions about humanity and its deep desires, what reality means, and how the awakening of artificial intelligence can utterly change the world in devastating ways.

Especially intriguing is the android Dolores, acted by Evan Rachel Wood who has more or less cornered the market in portraying disturbingly beautiful, almost non-human characters. The scenes with veteran actor Anthony Hopkins as the god-like maker of the artificial world is equally chilling.

(Watch more interviews at HBO Asia's Youtube page!)

Critics who have already watched the first couple of episodes have high praise for it and it is looking like it is going to be another "must-watch" for Red Dot Diva.

Thanks to HBO Asia, she is happy to announce that she will be at the special preview of "Westworld" on night of Friday, September 30. Ahhh! So Excites!

If you want to find out what Red Dot Diva thought of the series, do check out her Twitter and Facebook page for quickie comments after the media preview!


"Westworld" premieres on HBO Asia (StarHub TV Ch 601) at 9 AM on Monday, October 3, the same time as the U.S., with a same day primetime encore at 9 PM. The show is also available on HBO ON DEMAND (StarHub TV Ch 602).

Photo credit: HBO 

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