Oct/2018

4K UHD Review: Westworld Season 1!

by Gumbercules9000 on Nov 11th, 2017

THE SERIES


HBO’s new flagship show ‘Westworld‘ entered with a big bang in its first season. Since ‘Game of Thrones‘ is ending soon, HBO was ahead of the game and needed its new sci-fi action original show and ‘Westworld‘ was its name. That rhymed a little bit. Based on Michael Crichton’s story and film from 1973 of the same name, ‘Westworld‘ takes a theme park (much like Disneyland) to the next level. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s say you entered the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean‘ ride at Disneyland.

Instead of riding in a cart or boat to see animatronics from afar, you can now enter a whole actual world as a character yourself in real life and interact with these old school pirates who seem ultra realistic. Instead of pirates though, ‘Westworld‘ deals with the old west, where you can pay a sum of money, dress up in western garb and enter a world of the old west and go on adventures. You can steal gold, kill, have sex, or save the day here. The characters in ‘Westworld‘ are manufactured to look ultra realistic, but are definitely fake robots that are computer programmed.

Like in the original film, then again in its sequel and short lived TV series, these simulated people become self aware and start attacking. It’s an excellent premise and a great reboot of this classic story line with a big budget. Not only that, you have JJ Abrams, Jonathan Nolan (Christopher Nolan’s brother), and Lisa Joy (Burn Notice, Pushing Daisies) producing the show, which tells you the characters, production, and story is top notch. The first few episodes give you a glimpse of what the experience of ‘Westworld‘ is like, but as the show goes on, there are some true twists and turns around every corner.

Who is really running the show, and are the bad guys really good guys, or even how long have some of the people been in ‘Westworld‘, are some of the questions that keep coming up. Each episode weaves in and out these characters with big reveals, violence, and furthering an incredible story. ‘Westworld‘ Season One is fantastic and sets up the scene for an even bigger world in future seasons.

THE VIDEO/AUDIO


The Video: HBO’s ‘Westworld’ Season One comes in 4K UHD with options of Dolby Vision and HDR encoding. The Dolby Vision is the way to go for sure here. The show’s first season was shot entirely on film and not digitally, which is very rare these days. In post, everything was scanned in at 2K and then up-converted to what we have now on the discs. Now I’ve watched the standard Blu-ray 1080p version and have compared it to the 4K UHD version with Dolby Vision and while there is an upgrade, it isn’t a total uptick. Still, if you have Dolby Vision enabled on your television and 4K Player, the whole image is going to look beautiful.

There is a ton of depth to the picture that really brings out every detail in the show in this wide open west thriller. Colors look incredible with bright blue skies, orange and brown dirt and sand, along with green pastures. It’s a very warm looking show when it’s outside, but when the show turns into the lab underground, things are icy cool. Greens, blues, and silvers pop out more, giving a very modern look to it. It’s a great contrast for sure. Other bright primary colors look wonderful too in the old school wardrobe and deep reds in all of the gory blood and guts.

Detail is sharp and vivid as well with every imperfection in the wood buildings and scuff marks on some of the wardrobe. The weapons look intricate as well as all the futuristic technology in the lab. Closeups reveal excellent facial features and makeup effects. Other visual effects never go soft either. Black levels are deep and inky without any crush and the skin tones are always natural. Lastly, there are no instances with any banding, aliasing, or video noise, leaving this video presentation with great marks.

The Audio: The 4K UHD Discs come with a Dolby Atmos mix that is just magnificent. The added height speakers really immerse you into this western horror show with tons of atmospheric sounds. Those sound effects are just thunderous with big gun shots and explosions, as well as tons of hits, kicks, and takedowns. Each noise packs a good hefty punch with solid bass that never stumbles into rocky or overbearing territory. All of the technological sound effects of bodies being created are top notch too. The added height speakers come with wind, bullets, and rain that adds extra layers to this sound mix.

Other ambient noises of gun shots, people talking or screaming, and wildlife in the background are loud and robust from the rear speakers as well. I was totally satisfied with this sound design. The score is also fantastic and is quite memorable with each instrument and note providing good crescendos when needed and other suspenseful add ons. Again, bass is thick and glorious and the dynamic range is very wide. Directionality is perfect and the dialogue is always crystal clear and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills.

 

THE EXTRAS


About the Series (HD, 2 Mins.) – A short intro into the series from the main actors and crew members.

An Invitation to the Set (HD, 2 Mins.) – Another short intro to the series from the actors and crew.

The Big Moment (HD, 15 Mins.) – A very cool look at several key sequences in Season One.

Welcome to Westworld (HD, 8 Mins.) – Yet another intro to the series, but this time with more interviews and behind the scenes footage.

Realizing the Dream: First Week on the Set of Westworld (HD, 12 Mins.) – This is a great behind the scenes look at filming on location in Utah. 

Imagining the Main Title (HD, 14 Mins.) – The composer Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones), along with the producers talk about the music and title sequence of the show.

Reality of A.I.: Westworld (HD, 5 Mins.) – The cast and crew talk about the technological advances in robots and A.I.

Gag Reel (HD, 2 Mins.) – A very short, but excellent gag reel that plays out serious, but then with big laughs.

The Key to the Chords (HD, 8 Mins.) – Djawadi, Nolan, and Hoy talk about the score of the series.

Crafting the Narrative (HD, 30 Mins.) – Nolan and Joy deliver some great commentary during the final episode of the season here.

Corporate Guidebook – A very cool booklet that details everything about the show, characters, and how ‘Westworld’ works.

THE ULTIMATE WORD


Westworld‘ Season One is a new tv show that exceeds expectations on all fronts. It’s the new show you should be watching and will for sure replace ‘Game of Thrones‘ once it’s gone. The characters, story plots, and visual effects are all award worthy. There is never a dull moment in this show either and is highly re-watchable. The 4K UHD Discs come in a collectible tin set with a big badass booklet. The Dolby Atmos sound and Dolby Vision are excellent. This comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Written By: Bryan Kluger

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