Westworld: Season 3: The New World 4K Ultra HD Review
Having been a Westworld fan since its premiere episode I do have to say, while season one and two were very good, season three blows those two out of the water.
In 1973 a young Michael Crichton (way before Jurassic Park was ever written) made his directorial debut. The film called, Westworld, starred Yul Brynner (The Ten Commandments) and detailed what happened when robots in a futuristic adult theme park go crazy. Westworld had mediocre success, but in October 2016, the property was picked up by Jonathan Nolan (Memento), and Lisa Joy (Burn Notice) with plans to modernize the film and make a large scale television show for HBO. Now, while in hiatus between the third and fourth seasons of the show, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released Westworld Season 3 on 4K UHD.
Season three starts off three months after season two's end. Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood; Kajillionaire) is now out of the park and ready to begin her plans for the real world. Even though the park is now closed, favorite characters still show up in this season in the real world including Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright; Casino Royale), Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton; Mission: Impossible II), William (Ed Harris; The Abyss), Charlotte (Tessa Thompson; Thor: Ragnarok) to just mention a few. Dolores went to the real world with a plan after reading all the material at the forge at the end of season two. Her mission is to stop the system named Rehoboam and it's creator, Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel; Black Swan) from controlling everyone's life through a system that pre-determines what they will do till they have passed from this world. With Delos technology, "pearls" (their brain as you would have it) from Westworld, and the help of a new ally, Caleb Nichols (Arron Paul; Breaking Bad) she is determined to start a revolution and set everyone free.
After season two destroyed the Westworld park, the creators of the show had to reinvent it for season three and they truly did a remarkable job. For myself season three is the best season of Westworld yet. The days of the old west are now far behind with a futuristic world now set as the backdrop to the story. Some of the sets might look like green screen, but you would be surprised how much was filmed on locations throughout the world that they thought would fit the narrative. Evan Rachel Wood gives her best performance to date in the series, and the edition of Cassel and Paul really expanded the world. Leaning on some concepts from today's world, it really isn't too much of a stretch to see the Westworld world reflect our own in say about 100 years. The futuristic weapons were a welcomed change from the pistols of the wild west, and while the first two seasons were a nicely balanced combination of drama and action, this season lends itself to more action, which takes you for a ride that does not let up until the very end. While some fans (and even a cast member) were disappointed in the end, I think it fit well into the narrative. With season four being the last season of the show, it will be interesting to see where they go with Bernard, Caleb, and Maeve after this explosive season three ending.
Just like John Hammond from Jurassic Park, HBO and Warner Bros. "spared no expense" in crafting this fantastic 4K release. The 2160p transfer of Westworld Season Three is simply amazing. While most of the season is shot in 1.78:1 ratio, there are a few rare moments it switches ratios to 2.35:1. While this has been done with a few films in the past, i.e. The Dark Knight and Transformers 5, one's preference on these abrupt changes may differ. Thanks to Dolby Vision the 4K version of this season easily surpasses its HBO Max counterpart. Details and textures are very sharp, and grain is barely visible through the eight episodes.
Complimenting the upgraded transfer is a Dolby Atmos soundtrack that is leaps and bounds better than what was used on Westworld's initial TV run. Sounds are separated perfectly in this mix with the use of the height speaker being utilized more than I have ever seen in a television show or film before.
While the special features of these Westworld 4K releases have been hit or miss, this one does have 17 different featurettes. They all range from 2-14 minutes in length with most of them housed on the third disc of the set. Some highlights include: We Live in a Technocracy, Westworld on Location, and Welcome to Westworld (four interviews with cast that are all under 4 minutes in length.
Having been a Westworld fan since its premiere episode I do have to say, while season one and two were very good, season three blows those two out of the water. With all the enhancements to the original release, it is almost a no-brainer for Westworld fans to own this 4K set.
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