Westworld 4K Blu-ray
By Chris Heinonen on
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.
Westworld is a vacation on an entirely new level. The real-world environment filled with artificially intelligent androids allows the visitor to do whatever they want, without any consequences. A visitor can be a bank robbing, murderous villain, or a hero if they so choose. This introduction season follows several main characters, but the real focus is on Westworld visitor William, played by Jimmi Simpson, lead AI programmer Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and a couple of AI “actors”, Maeve (Thandie Newton) and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood). The show continually brings up the questions like what makes up consciousness, what is it that makes us human, and if humans can be artificially created, what kind of rights would they have?
It’s a tremendous show filled with wonderful performances by Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, Anthony Hopkins and just about everyone else as well. The score composed by Ramin Djawadi along with player-piano covers of classics like Paint it Black and several Radiohead songs compliment the show beautifully, allowing the viewer to fully escape into the narrative. The combination of setting the show in an old western alongside a futuristic sci-fi locale seems odd, but it works.
Westworld was shot on 35mm film and then scanned for its 4K Blu-ray release, but only at 2K resolution. The film origins are apparent when you see HDR highlights, as they suffer from the slight halo that you have when trying to make a non-digital flame brighter, but overall the transfer looks very good. Black levels are deep and dark, with shadow details visible in the dark suits of the characters. You don’t get as much dynamic range in scenes as with some HDR discs, but this looks much better than it would look on cable. We don’t have access to the Blu-ray disc to compare (it isn’t included in the box set), but on its own merits, the 4K disc looks very good especially for a TV show.
The Atmos soundtrack is an improvement over any TV soundtrack, using the height channels to place environmental cues around you. It’s best utilized in scenes where you know there is a lot of ambient audio, like walking through the town, and used less in quieter scenes. Voices are clear, and the overall presentation is a very good one. Westworld is the first TV show to get a new 4K Blu-ray disc release, and the creators certain took advantage of it with a great looking and sounding title.
- Inside Look with Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy – Season One (New Featurette)
- Imagining the Main Title (New Featurette)
- The Key to The Chords (New Featurette)
- Gag reel (New)
- Welcome to Westworld
- Crafting the Narrative
- An Invitation to The Set
- Welcome to Westworld: About the Series
- Reality of A.I.: Westworld
- “The Big Moment” Featurettes
Sony A1E OLED, Sony UBP-X800 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, Oppo UDP-203 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver, Power Sound Audio XS30se Subwoofer.
Tremendous show and story, image and soundtrack are far better than watching it on cable or streaming.
HDR not fully utilized in the film transfer.
Westworld is a fantastic show and the 4K Blu-ray version is a huge improvement over the quality of it on HBO. Hopefully, it is just the first of a number of shows to get a 4K Blu-ray release.