REVIEW: FRACTURE

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Ryan Gosling (Young Hercules)
David Strathairn (The Bourne Legacy)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Emebth Davidtz (Army of Darkness)
Billy Burke (Red Riding Hood)
Cliff Curtis (Fear The Walking Dead)
Fiona Shaw (Pixels)
Bob Gunton (Daredevil)
Josh Stamberg (J. Edgar)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks)

Theodore “Ted” Crawford (Anthony Hopkins), a wealthy and talented Irish aeronautical engineer in Los Angeles, discovers that his wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) is having an affair with police detective Robert Nunally (Billy Burke). After confronting his wife, Crawford shoots her, seriously wounding her. Police arrive on the scene, including Nunally. Nunally enters the house and convinces Crawford that they should both put down their guns and Crawford confesses he shot his wife.Crawford engages in a battle of wits with rising star deputy district attorney William “Willy” Beachum (Ryan Gosling), who considers this an open-and-shut matter and agrees to go to trial immediately. Beachum is busy making preparations for his transition from criminal law to corporate attorney for Wooton & Simms, a well-known law firm, and begins a romantic relationship with his future boss, Nikki Gardner (Rosamund Pike). At the trial, Crawford acts as his own attorney, thereby matching up a star prosecutor against a supposedly untrained litigant. Crawford reveals that the arresting officer (Nunally) was having an affair with his wife, assaulted him during his arrest, and was present during his interrogation. Crawford’s confession is ruled to be inadmissible as evidence, as it was fruit of the poisonous tree. Beachum discovers that Crawford’s handgun was not used to shoot his wife because it had never been fired and did not match the shell casings at the crime scene. As the house was under surveillance the entire time from the shooting to Crawford’s arrest, the police are baffled. Beachum is tempted by Nunally’s scheme to plant false evidence to implicate Crawford but decides against it at the last minute. With no new evidence to present to the jury, Beachum is forced to concede the trial, and Crawford is acquitted. The disgraced Nunally commits suicide outside the courtroom.After the trial, Beachum’s future with the prestigious firm is in tatters. However, he also begins to see his job as a D.A. as a means of fighting injustice for those like Crawford’s wife. Crawford himself observes this change, joking scathingly that Beachum has “found God”. This motivates Beachum to continue searching for evidence almost obsessively. Realizing that Crawford’s plan is to dispose of the only eyewitness to the crime, Beachum obtains a court order to keep Jennifer on life support. Beachum arrives at the hospital but is unable to prevent staff turning off Jennifer’s life support.18765967_1951210205111514_2812412988692009523_nA mix-up of cell phones causes Beachum to realize that both Nunally and Crawford used the same type of gun, a .45 caliber Glock 21. He figures out that before the crime Crawford switched his gun with Nunally’s in a hotel room where Jennifer and Nunally secretly met. Crawford shot his wife with Nunally’s gun, and then reloaded it. The detective arrived on the scene carrying Crawford’s gun, and both Crawford and Nunally laid their weapons down as a preliminary move in hostage negotiations. When Nunally became aware of who the shooting victim was, and tried to revive Jennifer, Crawford switched the guns, retrieving his own unused gun. When Crawford appeared in the room brandishing his gun, Nunally tackles and assaulted him before Crawford’s arrest. Nunally unwittingly holstered the murder weapon, letting the unused gun be taken as evidence.0a1c07c4213b7af8c284a06c9b4078e5Beachum confronts Crawford with his new evidence. Since she has now died, the bullet lodged in Jennifer’s head can now be retrieved and matched with Nunally’s gun. Crawford confesses, assuming himself to be protected under the Double Jeopardy Clause. However, Beachum reveals that by allowing his wife to die, Crawford can now be prosecuted for murder, having previously been tried merely for attempted murder. Since he had taken Jennifer off life support, new charges can be filed against Crawford and a new trial can be set. Crawford is arrested by the waiting police. The film ends with a new trial about to begin, where Beachum prosecutes and Crawford is surrounded by a group of high-priced defense attorneys of Wooton & Simms.I thought the intellectual chess game between Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling was pure joy. What a pleasure to watch the two play mind games with each other — with the audience in on the action. I Thought the pace was good, the direction suspenseful. I highly recommend it to those interested in movies that make you think.

REVIEW: RED 2

CAST

Bruce Willis (Cop Out)
John Malkovich (Burn After Reading)
Helen Mirren (Woman In Gold)
Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds)
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (Entrapment)
Lee Byung-hun (G.I. Joe)
Brian Cox (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
David Thewlis (Wonder Woman)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Titus Welliver (Bosch)

Three years after the previous film, while trying to lead a normal life with girlfriend Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is approached by Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), who claims people are still after them, but Frank dismisses him. After appealing a second time, Marvin drives off, and his car explodes. Although Frank does not believe Marvin is dead, Sarah convinces him to go to Marvin’s funeral where he delivers a teary-eyed eulogy.After the funeral, a group of government agents approach Frank and take him to be interrogated at a Yankee White Facility. During the interrogation, Jack Horton (Neal McDonough) appears with an armed SWAT team, kills most of the facility’s personnel, and tells Frank that he will torture Sarah until he gets information out of Frank. Frank escapes from the room, evades Horton’s assassins, and with the sudden timely help of Marvin, who turns out to be alive, goes on the run with Sarah.In a diner, Marvin explains that he and Frank are being hunted because they were listed as participants in a clandestine operation codenamed Nightshade, conducted during the Cold War to smuggle a nuclear weapon into Russia piece by piece. Horton has convinced world agencies that Frank and his crew are terrorists and must be stopped. Victoria (Helen Mirren) calls, telling Frank she has been contracted by MI6 to kill the three of them. Meanwhile, top contract killer Han Cho-Bai (Lee Byung-hun), whom Horton knows is seeking revenge on Frank, is also hired.Frank, Marvin, and Sarah steal Han’s plane and fly to Paris to find a man nicknamed “The Frog” (David Thewlis), with the Americans and Han in pursuit. As they arrive in Paris, they are stopped by Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a Russian secret agent with whom Frank had a relationship earlier in his career. Katja is also in search of Nightshade, and joins them to find The Frog. When he sees them, The Frog flees. Frank and Katja catch him and bring him back to his house, where Sarah seduces him, both to help them and to prove she is a better girlfriend than Katja.The Frog gives them the key to his security box, which Katja apparently takes from Frank after drugging him; but Marvin, anticipating this, had handed a similar-looking key to Frank before his meeting with her. Marvin, Frank, and Sarah later find documents in The Frog’s security box which point to Dr. Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant physicist, as the creator of the Operation Nightshade bomb.They find that Bailey is alive, held thirty-two years in a maximum security asylum for the criminally insane in London. Victoria (alerted by Marvin) unexpectedly confronts the trio, but helps to fake their deaths and then gain access to the asylum, in which Victoria feigns insanity, while Frank and Sarah poses as the facility staff, (having tied up and gagged the real staff with duct tape). Frank and Victoria meet Bailey, who is hyperactive and cannot rationally respond to their questions thanks to mind-fogging drugs the asylum had been giving him, so they take him to one of Marvin’s safehouses. After the drugs begin to wear off, Bailey remembers the bomb is still in Moscow.They travel to Moscow, and Bailey concludes he hid the bomb in the Kremlin. They break into the Kremlin, and Bailey locates the suitcase-sized bomb, which is powered by red mercury, which has no radioactive signature and causes no fallout. As they are about to leave, Katja stops them. Frank persuades her to switch to their side. After they escape and are celebrating, Victoria, who has escaped MI6 imprisonment for failing to kill him, calls Frank from London and tells him that Bailey was locked up because he had wanted to detonate the bomb, not sell it. Bailey quickly holds Frank at gunpoint and confirms Victoria’s message, revealing that he made a deal with Horton and the Americans to give them the red mercury. He shoots Katja, making it look as if Frank killed her, and leaves with the bomb case. Horton reneges on his deal with Bailey, intending to interrogate him until all his secrets have been tortured out of him, but Bailey escapes during air transit using a nerve gas he created, administering the antidote to both himself and Horton. Bailey then moves to the Iranian embassy in London. Before Frank can follow him, Han attacks. Reaching a standoff, Frank urges Han to join sides with him and stop the bomb. Han finally relents, and the five enact a plan to recapture Bailey and the bomb.Sarah first seduces the Iranian ambassador, then takes him hostage. Marvin poses as a person seeking to defect to Iran, causes a diversion with the embassy plumbing, and the disguised team comes to “fix” it. They discover in the ambassador’s safe plans disclosing the location of the bomb, but find that Bailey has already triggered the bomb’s countdown timer and killed Horton (after disclosing he also remembered how his family had been killed by people like Horton). When they are discovered by embassy guards, Bailey seizes Sarah and flees to the airport to escape the imminent explosion.Frank, Marvin, Victoria, and Han, taking the active bomb case with them, give chase, but Marvin, in his attempts to disarm the bomb by cutting wires, causes the timer to speed up and count down thrice as fast. Frank, holding the bomb case, boards the plane and confronts Bailey who releases Sarah and forcefully insists he take the bomb off the plane with her. They rejoin Marvin, Victoria, and Han and wait for death as Han’s plane takes off. As it disappears high in the sky it explodes in an immense fireball. Frank reveals that he had covertly placed the bomb from the case into a compartment near the plane’s exit and confronted Bailey with only a closed empty case. Han angrily tells Frank that Frank owes him “$30 million for the plane and $20 million for not killing you (Frank)”. The closing scene shows Sarah enjoying herself on a mission in Caracas with Frank and Marvin.RED 2 is massively entertaining, surprisingly witty and superb fun. A perfect case-study in pure entertainment and even better, if that’s possible, than the first movie. Simply brillian.

REVIEW: SPOTSWOOD

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One)
Alwyn Kurts (Tim)
Bruno Lawrence (The Quiet Earth)
Rebecca Rigg (Jerry Maguire)
Toni Collette (Krampus)
Russell Crowe (Man of Steel)
Angela Punch McGregor (Double Deal)
Daniel Wyllie (Peter Pan)

005CKE_Heather_Graham_164

In late 1960s Melbourne, Errol Wallace (Anthony Hopkins) is a financial business consultant who we meet in the course of his being hired by the board of Durmack, an automotive component manufacturer, where he assesses a large work force redundancy and recommends major layoffs. Balls, a moccasin factory located in the Melbourne suburb of Spotswood, is his next client. Mr. Ball (Alwyn Kurts), the owner of the company, is affable and treats his employees benevolently. Wallace on a factory tour finds the conditions wanting with shabbiness, old machinery and the workers lackadaisical. A young worker at Balls, Carey (Ben Mendelsohn), who is finding his place in the world and life, is asked by Wallace to assist in his review, compiling worker condition and performance information. Carey is reluctant until he learns that Mr. Ball’s daughter Cheryl (Rebecca Rigg), whom he fancies, is part of the review staff.005CKE_Heather_Graham_126Wallace learns that there is an instigator in the midst, his colleague Jerry (John Walton), who leaks the Durmack report, inflating the quantity of sackings as a means to demoralize the union. Kim (Russell Crowe), a salesman at Balls who also has his sights set on the boss’s daughter, shows his ruthlessness and ulterior motives when he comes to Wallace’s home one night with a complete set of the company financial records that detail non-existent profit for years and reveal that Ball has been selling off company assets to keep the outfit afloat. Wallace realizes that whatever productivity improvements have been implemented are not enough to save the company even with an elimination of workers and yet that is his recommendation. Mr. Ball responds, “It’s not just about dollars and cents. It’s about dignity, treating people with respect.” Wallace’s mind set starts to change when his car is vandalized and some Ball workers come to his aid, workers who then start to include him in their off-hours activities. Mr. Ball announces the work force redundancies and Wallace is clearly uncomfortable seeing them, knowing that it was his recommendation that sealed their fate.005CKE_Heather_Graham_096The union at Durmack capitulates and management celebrates with a party at which Wallace becomes disenchanted by rash sackings and realises that product diversity can potentially make the company profitable since the skills set is in the workers. Carey realises he has feelings for his work mate and friend Wendy (Toni Collette) and together they climb up onto the roof of the factory and hold hands as they look out over Spotswood. 309670_originalThis Australian comedy features early roles for future stars Toni Collette and Russell Crowe. Many well-known Australian actors appear in this film. It is a gentle and sympathetic look at the effects of economic change. The film also has comic moments where adolescent boys try to ask out a good-looking girl without much success. The movie leaves you smiling !!

 

REVIEW: THE MASK OF ZORRO

CAST

Antonio Banderas (The 13th Warrior)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (Entrapment)
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Stuart Wilson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Matt Letscher (Legends of Tomorrow)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
Maury Chaykin (Iron Eagle II)

In 1821, Don Diego De La Vega (Anthony Hopkins), a Californio nobleman fights against the Spanish in the Mexican War of Independence as Zorro, a mysterious swordsman who defends the Mexican peasants and commoners of Las Californias. Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson), the corrupt governor of the region, learns of De La Vega’s alter ego, and attempts to arrest him. De La Vega’s wife is killed during the scuffle. Montero imprisons De La Vega and takes his infant daughter, Elena, as his own. Twenty years later Montero returns to California as a civilian, alongside Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones), who has grown into a beautiful woman. Montero’s reappearance motivates De La Vega to escape from prison. He encounters a thief, Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), who, as a child, once did Zorro a favor. De La Vega decides that fate has brought them together, and agrees to make Alejandro his protégé, grooming him to be the new Zorro. Alejandro agrees to undergo De La Vega’s training regimen in Zorro’s lair underneath the ruins of his family estate in order to be able to take revenge on Captain Harrison Love (Matt Letscher), Montero’s right-hand man, who was responsible for killing Alejandro’s brother, Joaquin.While still being trained, Alejandro steals a black stallion resembling Tornado from the local garrison. De La Vega scolds Alejandro, claiming that Zorro was a servant of the people, not a thief and adventurer. He challenges Alejandro to gain Montero’s trust instead. Alejandro poses as a visiting nobleman named Don Alejandro del Castillo y García, with De La Vega as his servant, and attends a party at Montero’s hacienda. At the party he gains Elena’s admiration and enough of Montero’s trust to be invited to a secret meeting where several other noblemen are present. Montero hints at a plan to retake California for the Dons by buying it from General Santa Anna, who needs money to fund his upcoming war with the United States.Montero takes Alejandro and the noblemen to a secret gold mine known as “El Dorado”, where peasants and prisoners are used for slave labor. Montero plans to buy California from Santa Anna using gold mined from Santa Anna’s own land. De La Vega uses this opportunity to become closer to Elena, though he identifies himself as “Bernardo” the servant, learning that Montero told Elena that her mother died in childbirth. While walking in a market, Elena meets the woman who was her nanny who tells Elena her parents’ real identity. De La Vega sends Alejandro, dressed as Zorro, to steal Montero’s map leading to the gold mine. Zorro duels Montero, Love, and their guards at the hacienda. When Zorro escapes, Elena attempts to retrieve Montero’s map from the swordsman, but he seduces her, leading to a passionate kiss before he flees.Terrified of Santa Anna’s retribution if he discovers that he is being paid with his own gold, Montero, at Love’s urging, decides to destroy the mine and kill the workers. De La Vega tells Alejandro to release the workers on his own so that De La Vega can reclaim Elena. Alejandro sets off, feeling betrayed by Diego’s vendetta. De La Vega corners Montero at the hacienda and reveals his identity, but Montero captures him by threatening Elena. As he is taken away, De La Vega tells Elena the name of the flowers she recognized upon her arrival in California, convincing her that he is her father. She releases De La Vega from his cell and they proceed to the mine, where Alejandro and De La Vega respectively defeat and slay Love and Montero. Elena and Alejandro free the workers before the explosives go off, and then find the mortally wounded De La Vega. He makes peace with Alejandro before dying, passing the mantle of Zorro to him, and gives his blessings for his marriage to Elena. In a closing sequence they are shown to be living together after rebuilding the De La Vega family manor with a son named Joaquín, in honor of Alejandro’s brother.Wonderful movie, visually rich and a nice blend of comedy, action and romance, well-written. Hopkins is great; so is Banderas as Zorro-in-training, and Zeta-Jones sparkles in her scenes with him.

REVIEW: THE REMAINS OF THE DAY

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Emma Thompson (Junior)
Christopher Reeve (Superman)
Peter Vaughn (Game of Thrones)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)
Hugh Grant (Love Actually)
John Haycraft (Chancer)
Lena Headey (Dredd)

courage_reeveIn 1950s post-war Britain, Mr Stevens, the butler of Darlington Hall, receives a letter from Miss Kenton, a recently divorced former co-worker employed as the housekeeper some twenty years earlier. Lord Darlington has died a broken man, his reputation destroyed after he was exposed as a Nazi sympathizer, and his stately country manor has been sold to a retired United States Congressman, Mr Lewis. Stevens is granted permission to borrow his Daimler, and he sets off to the West Country to meet Kenton.south-park-the-end-of-serialization-as-we-know-it-645x370
The film flashes back to Kenton’s arrival as housekeeper in the 1930s. The ever efficient Stevens manages the household well, taking great pride in his profession, and his dedication is fully displayed when, while his father lies dying, he steadfastly continues his duties. Kenton also proves to be a valuable servant, and she is equally efficient and strong-willed, but also warmer and less repressed. Relations between the two eventually warm, and it becomes clear that she has feelings for him, yet despite their proximity and shared purpose, Stevens’ detachment remains unchanged. Eventually, she forms a relationship with a former co-worker and leaves the house prior to the outbreak of World War II. Before she resigns, Stevens finds her crying in frustration, but the only response he can muster is to call her attention to a neglected domestic task.
significant-others-jennifer-garner-elizabeth-mitchell-scott-bairstow-eion-bailey-michael-weatherly-dvdbash-wordpress03Meanwhile, the hall is regularly frequented by politicians of the interwar period, and many of Lord Darlington’s guests are like-minded British and European aristocrats, with the exception of Congressman Lewis. Darlington later also meets Prime Minister Chamberlain and the German Ambassador, and uses his influence to try and broker a policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany, based on his belief that Germany had been unfairly treated by the Treaty of Versailles following World War I. In the midst of these events, one day Darlington suddenly requests that two newly appointed German-Jewish maids, both refugees, should be dismissed. Stevens carries out the command, and Kenton threatens resignation in protest, but she is too timid to do so.
intro-emma-5En route to meeting Kenton, when asked about his former employer, Stevens at first denies having served or even met him, but later admits to having served and respected him. He meets Kenton (now Mrs Benn), and they reminisce, but she declines Stevens’ offer to return to Darlington Hall, wishing instead to remain near her pregnant daughter. After the meeting, Kenton is emotional, while Stevens is still unable to demonstrate any feeling. Back in Darlington Hall, Lewis asks Stevens if he remembers much of the old days, to which Stevens replies that he was too busy serving. Symbolically, a pigeon then becomes trapped in the hall, and the two men eventually free it, leaving both Stevens and Darlington Hall far behind.
family-guy-christmas-santa-choke-peter-s15e09-how-the-griffin-stole-christmas-simpsons-son-of-zornAn all-round first-rate cinematic experience, Remains of the Day is one of those pictures that lingers in the mind long after the credits pass. A must see.

 

REVIEW: BEOWULF

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Angelina Jolie (The Changeling)
Ray Winstone (Elfie Hopkins)
Crispin Glover (Alice In Wonderland)
Robin Wright (Forrest Gump)
Sebastian Roche (The Originals)
John Malkovich (Red)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Costas Mandylor (Saw V)
Dominic Keating (Heroes)
Alison Lohman (Big Fish)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

Set in 507, Beowulf is a legendary Geatish warrior who travels to Denmark with his band of soldiers, including his best friend, Wiglaf. They meet King Hrothgar, who needs a hero to slay Grendel (Crispin Glover), a hideously disfigured troll-like creature with superhuman strength. Grendel attacks Heorot, Hrothgar’s mead hall, whenever the Danes held a celebration, and Hrothgar has been forced to close the hall. Upon arriving, Beowulf becomes attracted to Hrothgar’s wife, Queen Wealtheow, who reciprocates his interest.Beowulf and his men celebrate in Heorot to lure Grendel out. When the beast attacks, Beowulf engages him unarmed and naked. During the fight, Beowulf discovers that Grendel has hypersensitive hearing, which is why he interrupts Hrothgar’s celebrations – the noise they make is physically painful to him. After his eardrums are ruptured by Beowulf, Grendel attempts to escape. Beowulf restrains Grendel and severs his arm with the door. In thanks for freeing his kingdom from the monster, Hrothgar gives Beowulf his golden drinking horn, which commemorates Hrothgar’s victory over the mighty dragon Fafnir.In his cave, the dying Grendel tells his mother what was done to him, and she swears revenge. She travels to Heorot and slaughters Beowulf’s men while they are sleeping. Hrothgar tells both Beowulf and Wiglaf, who had been sleeping outside the hall during the attack, that it was the work of Grendel’s mother. She is the last of the Water Demons, who were thought to have left the land. Beowulf and Wiglaf travel to the demon’s cave to slay her. Beowulf enters the cave alone and encounters the demon, who takes the form of a beautiful woman. She offers to make him the greatest king who ever lived, in exchange for a son to replace Grendel and Hrothgar’s drinking horn.Beowulf agrees to the deal and returns, claiming to have killed her. Hrothgar, however, realizes the truth. He indirectly tells Beowulf that, much like him, Hrothgar was seduced by her, and Grendel was the result of their tryst. Hrothgar crowns Beowulf king, much to the dismay of his royal advisor, Unferth, who was hoping to take the throne. Hrothgar then commits suicide by jumping from the castle parapet onto the beach below. A wave momentarily engulfs Hrothgar’s body, there is a golden flash underwater, and the body is gone.Years later, the elderly Beowulf is married to Wealtheow. Over the years they had grown apart, husband and wife in name alone. Beowulf takes a mistress, Ursula, but his tryst with Grendel’s mother has left him sterile. One day, Unferth’s slave Cain finds the golden drinking horn in a swamp near Grendel’s cave and brings it back to the kingdom. That night, a nearby village is destroyed by a dragon, which leaves Unferth alive to deliver a message to King Beowulf: the dragon is Beowulf’s son born to Grendel’s mother. Removing the horn has voided the agreement between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother, who has now sent their son, the dragon, to destroy his kingdom.Beowulf and Wiglaf go to the cave once again and Beowulf enters the cave alone. When Grendel’s mother appears, Beowulf gives her the golden horn, but she refuses to stop the attacks. The dragon flies straight towards Beowulf’s home, threatening Wealtheow and Ursula. Despite his age, Beowulf goes to great lengths to stop the monster, even severing his own arm. Eventually, he kills the dragon by ripping its heart out. A mortally wounded Beowulf watches the dragon transforming into a humanoid body and being washed out to sea. As Wiglaf approaches him, Beowulf tries to tell the truth about his affair with Grendel’s mother, but Wiglaf insists on keeping his legacy intact. Beowulf then dies.As the new king, Wiglaf gives Beowulf a Norse funeral. Grendel’s mother appears and gives Beowulf a final kiss before his burning ship sinks into the sea. Wiglaf sees the golden horn in the sand while Grendel’s mother floats in the sea, looking at him seductively. The movie ends ambiguously with Wiglaf holding the horn and staring back at her.The plot isn’t much to write home about. The acting is variable – Robin Wright-Penn is fine, Hopkins is his usual reliable self, Ray Winstone is suitably heroic as the heroic, self-aggrandising Beowulf, and Crispin Glover is just brilliant as Grendel. Grendel is a lovely creation, oozing slime and blood, and wracked with pain. It’s entertainment. And I was royally entertained.

REVIEW: WESTWORLD – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Jeffrey Wright (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)
James Marsden (X-Men)
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Hercules)
Luke Hemsworth (Neighbours)
Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgen)
Simon Quarterman (the Scorpion King 2)
Rodrigo Santoro (Lost)
Shannon Woodward (Raising Hope)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
Jimmi Simpson (Date Night)
Angela Sarafyan (The Promise)
Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of Tue Lambs)
Ben Barnes (Dorian Gray)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Louis Herthum (Longmire)
Leonardo Nam (He’s Just Not That Into You)
Talulah Riley (St. Trinians)
Oliver Bell (Salem)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Steven Ogg (The Escort)
Michael Wincott (The Doors)
Eddie Rouse (I’m Still Here)
Brian Howe (Catch Me If You Can)
Demetrius Grosse (Saving Mr. Banks)
Kyle Bornheimer (The D Train)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Bojana Novakovic (Drag Me To Hell)
Eddie Shin (That 80s Show)
Ptolemy Slocum  (Hitch)

As many sci-fi fans will know, the show ‘Westworld’ is based on the 1973 feature film of the same name (written and directed by the late, great Michael Crichton), and the premise is basically the same as it was then: In a future where technological possibilities are seemingly endless, a highly sophisticated theme park offers rich clients the chance to visit the long gone era of the Old West .

The show does a great job pulling the viewer immediately into Westworld. Within 10 minutes of the first episode, the basic rules of the theme park are established: paying guests called “newcomers” get to interact with androids called “hosts” (which to the naked eye are indiscernible from the guests) in a world dressed up like the Old West – and in this world, the guest truly is king. The rules are brutally simple: the visitors get to do whatever they like with – or to – the androids. They can have a friendly chat with them, flirt with them or embark on a spontaneous (or scripted) adventure with them – but they can also shoot them, rape them, torture them and kill them at will.

The androids, on the other hand, are constructed and programmed in a way that is supposed to inhibit them from physically harming “living” creatures. At the beginning of the show – thanks to an interesting choice of storytelling – we get to experience Westworld from the perspective of the androids, which reveals a cruel detail about their nature: they apparently experience emotions. Artificial or not, they do feel pain and fear – as well as affection and anger, and they have no idea that they don’t count as “real” people (at least not to those who call themselves real people). And while that detail certainly makes the “game” even more thrilling and more realistic for the visitors, it means that the shocking abuse some of the androids have to suffer is harrowingly real to them.

The way the show is constructed  it immediately confronts the viewer with very uncomfortable questions. How do we as humans behave towards creatures we consider non-human? How excessive do we become and how thin does our layer of morality turn out to be if we’re allowed to live out all our fantasies without having to fear any consequences for our actions? And at what point should a creature have rights similar to those we demand for ourselves? How do we define “sentient”? How do we define “human”? And how well do we actually understand – and how well are we able to control – the amazing technology our species seems to have acquired so suddenly?

As an avid film fan, I found ‘Westworld’ immediately intriguing; not only because it dares to challenge the viewer with fascinating philosophical questions and scientific concepts, but also because its premise offers the chance to explore a wide range of film genres: sci- fi, western, drama, horror – to name but a few.As for the non plot related aspects of the show: production design, music and effects are fantastic – as we’ve come to expect from HBO’s high concept productions  and with the impressive ensemble of high caliber actors do a great job at bringing their respective characters to life (artificial and otherwise).

A special mention needs to go to Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins: their charismatic screen presence is once more just impossible to ignore and they simply own every scene they’re in.  Given the amount of talent involved, anything else actually would have been surprising. Produced by J.J. Abrams, created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy Nolan based on a concept by the late – great – Michael Crichton; directed by Neil Marshall and Vincenzo Natali (among others), and with a cast most shows would kill for, the stars really seem to have aligned for ‘Westworld’.

My overall verdict so far: ‘Westworld’ is intelligent science fiction for adults (some scenes are very graphic) which offers more than just eye candy and is full of mysteries for the patient viewer to uncover. It provides a powerful metaphor for oppression and exploitation of other beings – and it shows how quickly we tend to lose our “humanity” when given ultimate power over those we somehow consider less “human”.  With a great cliffhanger season keeps you salivating for the second season which wont air till 2018.