“Westworld” might be HBO’s hottest new property, and its best bet at a drama hit in a while, but the bones of the sci-series are old.
In addition to being based on the 1973 film of the same name, which was written and directed by legendary author Michael Crichton, HBO’s adaptation tips its hat to a number of other influences – from video games to another Crichton classic.
“Westworld” the show focuses on androids in a futuristic Western theme park where guests can enjoy all the sex and killing they want. But slowly we notice malfunctions in the robots that lead to interesting questions about AI and humanity itself.
Here are the biggest influences on “Westworld”:
- Universal Pictures
“Jurassic Park,” the movie version of Crichton’s novel, is an obvious touchstone in HBO’s “Westworld,” where lifelike robots seemingly made out of dead humans have been programmed for the amusement of humans… until it all starts to go very, very wrong.
Yeah, it’s basically “Jurassic Park” but with robots.
“Park” and “Westworld” both question the motivations of futuristic science that meddles with the natural state of things.
- Warner Bros. Pictures
If you’re at all familiar with the Steven Spielberg sci-fi epic, it’s hard to watch “Westworld” without thinking of it. Though completely different in style, “A.I.” proposed a question that echoes “Westworld”: What happens when you program a boy-robot to love?
In “Westworld,” the robots are so lifelike it’s hard to distinguish them from the real thing. As one android says, “If you can’t tell, does it matter?” Certain robots have become infected with “reveries” that resemble memories. They seem more real with every passing day.
And like Haley Joel Osment’s David, the “Westworld” ‘bots just seem kind of… sad all the time.
- ABC Studios
In addition to the deep philosophy, there’s a grand mythology at work in HBO’s “Westworld.” After all, this is the show meant to follow up the success of “Game of Thrones.” But the mythology here more closely mirrors “Lost,” on which the survivors bumped into one puzzle after another on an island. (Reddit has even branded “Westworld” “the new ‘Lost.'”) Like that island, the Westworld park seems to have a deeper level that the Man in Black is trying to access. What is hiding there?
Let’s just hope the whole mystery doesn’t fall off the rails this time.
“Grand Theft Auto”
- “GTA V”
The Westworld park is vast, but also fake, and it allows its guests to indulge their basest pleasures – from sex with prostitutes to gleeful shootouts.
It is, in other words, sort of a futuristic “Grand Theft Auto,” a game series that has faced a lot of backlash for encouraging participants to engage in violent and lewd acts on the streets of its simulated cities. However, those simulated landscapes have only gotten more impressive over time. “Grand Thef Auto V” was an acclaimed best-seller largely owing to its impressive open world and what players can do in it.
The “Westworld” showrunners even said they played video games including “GTA” as research, according to Variety.
- 2K Games
“Westworld” showrunners Jonathan Nolan (brother of Christopher) and Lisa Joy played another game when putting together the show. Nolan said he’s a huge fan of the “BioShock” game series. He even called it one of the most “thoughtful and literate” stories of recent years.
In the original “BioShock,” the player guides a character who’s found himself in a dystopian underwater city known as Rapture. The game was acclaimed for its aesthetic and the moral choices built into the storyline.
“Westworld” will no doubt be throwing more than a few crucial moral choices at us.