Many fans, ourselves included, were shocked when Westworld was canceled by HBO last month. To make matters worse, the show was also just removed from HBO Max, making it harder to (re)watch this amazing show. Luckily, Warner Bros has also released the last season on BluRay and 4K, and has even bundled all of the show’s seasons in a S1-S4 box set, which makes a fantastic gift idea for the holidays for both longtime fans and sci-fi enthusiasts who somehow have never seen it. We’re taking a closer look.
Based on somewhat of a cult classic, the 1973 adaptation of a Michael Crichton novel (directed by the man himself), Westworld premiered back in 2016 and immediately proved it was a fantastic candidate for an updated take on the story. The plot’s reliance on technological concepts like AI and androids lets the series benefit greatly from the strides made in visual effects in the past fifty (!) years, and the show format allows creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy to really explore the core premise across visually striking locations that venture outside of the original Wild West-themed amusement park filled with androids.
Four seasons later, you’re looking at a whopping 24 discs of 4K content, with 2160 minutes of episodes – though at the same time you’ll wish they’d been able to produce the fifth and final season as well. That’s not just because you enjoyed the show, but also because the conclusion of the fourth season isn’t as satisfying a finale as many would have liked – which is a risk inherent to most TV show formats and can be seen in how Westworld wraps up.
It’s a stunning ride across four seasons though, especially in this 4K edition. What we like about a show that was originally made for TV is that Westworld is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, which on most regular TVs will fill up the screen nicely – no need to deal with black bars and/or parts of the image that were cut off. In 4K, this means you’ll see tons of little details all over the screen that you may not have noticed before – which is especially true in the later seasons when the plotlines leave the confines of the original amusement park.
It’s there that the series’ use of diverse locations shines most brightly, and if you enable HDR the lighting and colors are simply stunning to look at. From costumes to sets and backdrops, the contrast between light and shadows is striking and the amount of detail in lower light situations is impressive. Having originally seen the first season on a DVD format, the difference is instantly clear and this 4K rendition is such a big leap forward that the visual fidelity only makes it worth another watch.
Just as stunning, however, is the Dolby Atmos audio track that’s included – adding a movie theater-like soundscape to the series that adds another dimension to the show. Making effective use of the overhead channels, especially during action sequences, it’s possible one of the most dazzling audio tracks we’ve ever heard for a TV show. Its great use of surround, both prominently and nuances, as well as the amazing clarity and small details, help deliver an audiovisual experience that lifts up Westworld even during moments where the script drops the ball a little.
Also included are a series of special features, which range from short featurettes per episode (each one about five minutes long) to longer segments that contains interviews and breakdowns. It would be great to also get some retrospectives on the entire series, but it’s obviously too early for that at this point. At least, as viewers, we can reflect on all of Westworld now in glorious 4K detail, and this is a box set that makes for some of the best binge-watching you can ask for during the holiday break.