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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Drama > Mystery > Science Fiction > Amusement Park > Sex > Violence > Cable TV > Western > Biogra > Westworld - Season One: The Maze (2017/HBO/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray set in Limited Edition Tin)/Wild Bill (1995/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

Westworld - Season One: The Maze (2017/HBO/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray set in Limited Edition Tin)/Wild Bill (1995/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: B/B+ Sound: B+ & B/B+ Extras: B Main Programs: B

PLEASE NOTE: The Wild Bill Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last from the links below, while the 4K Westworld tin case will only be in print so long as well, so get it while supplies last.

Here we have two very different visits to the Wild West...

Westworld - Season One: The Maze (2017) is, of course, not an actual Western, but about a technologically advanced, expensive amusement park where human people can visit among other human customers and robots (among other things) made to be human and live out any fantasy they want to. When writer/director Michael Crichton made the original film in 1973, the Western as a film genre was still alive (albeit in its last, late stage) and the hit film made sense in that a corporation (Delos in this case) would spend hundreds of millions to billions of dollars to create an amusement park for rich adults. Over 40 years later, you would think they might pick a different narrative genre to start out with that might be more lucrative. Still, this cable TV revival (on HBO) starts at the beginning, but so far, this turns out to be a clever extension of the previous two feature films and not an outright remake. That's smart.

The first episode (at TV movie length like the final episode) of ten starts with a basic trip to this lively recreation of the Old West, allowing for more nudity, foul language, blood and violence than the 1973 PG-rated film could have and (no pun intended) gone the whole hog (or horse) in a recreation of the West that can more than compete with most of the retreads we have suffered through since Unforgiven (also on 4K Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) was a surprise hit.

There is the young lady on the plain (Evan Rachel Wood) who keeps waking up from various dreams, various visitors, a new mysterious Man in Black (Ed Harris, who is not the Gunslinger character Yul Brynner played in the two 1970s films; though he shows up in the background of one of the later episodes), two men who seem to be running the park overall (Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Wright) and a great supporting cast (some unknowns of whom might become stars off of this show) that include the great Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Ben Wright, Clifton Collins, Jr., Luke Hemsworth, Ingrid Bosol Berdal, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Simon Quarterman, Rodrigo Santoro, Angela Sarafyan, Jimmi Simpson, Tessa Thompson and Shannon Woodward. I loved the chemistry of this cast and how it helped the sense of this fakeworld seem all the more off-kilter.

Though there are moments of humor, it is much less than the 1970s feature films (including the underrated 1976 Futureworld sequel), but as the Western is practically a dead genre you have to reinvent all the way every time you make a new feature film of one (most fail), the series not only has a slightly overcast look in its artificial West often, but a lite sense of death is always permeating it, so when you get into the closed confines of the electronic labs, et al, they have a more natural color range in an odd contrast. This is never overdone and not even consistent throughout, but it makes its visual narrative points. If anything, one could argue the series spends too much times in the fake outdoors and on its Western narratives, but better to leave no stone unturned than build it and not use it enough. After all, the series does need to live up to its name.

So how good is it? Really good, especially with payoffs by the end, as it wants to be a full-fledged world worthy of predecessors like McGoohan's The Prisoner or Lynch's Twin Peaks, yet as complex as it can be (thus the subtitle of the debut season), it still is connected to the movies in the best way and after years of rumors and false starts, the makers have proven that those films were not flukes or merely time capsules of their time. Instead, they were more ahead of their time than they have received credit for, hold up far better than you would think today and that is why the series had no choice but to be as massive, elaborate, rich and filled with exposition as this season is. No, a few things might not work, but it is one of the best debuts of a drama series in years and by the final scene, the makers are promising something even more bold and possibly spectacular. That is why if you have not seen it already, catch up to this show ASAP!

HBO knows what they have here and have issued this in several versions for home video, including this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray set, and in a Limited Edition Tin. This is first rate, first class, high quality television the likes of which we do not see as much as it seems with so many being happy (maybe too easily) with TV shows these days, but Westworld is enough of a true event that may take off in its next season (not unlike the original Dynasty, oddly) now that things have been set up so thoroughly. I did not know what to expect, fan of the first films or not, but this show has an audience, but not as huge as it should be. This set should more than help change that.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 1.78 X 1 Ultra High Definition image seen on the 4K Blu-ray discs was shot on 35mm film (the great Kodak Vision 3 negative stocks) and looks great, up there with the best 4K feature films we've seen and has some demo shots that will impress. Some of the digital CGI work, as good as it can be, has it slight shortcomings here and there, but even the CGI is better here than most feature films. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image may not be as good as the 4K presentation, but it is as good as it can get in the format.

The 4K version offers Dolby Atmos 11.1 lossless tracks (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 on older systems) making it the first 4K TV release, first original release TV series and second-ever TV series in any format to offer the new soundtrack (Game Of Thrones, also an HBO series, was reissued with Atmos on regular Blu-ray in some of its seasons recently, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and it has impressive sonics, recording, mixing and mastering throughout. The original film was in stereo when most films had stepped backwards to mono sound, so this keeps the idea going that Westworld should always be associated with doing things differently, better and with a cutting edge to it. The regular 1080p Blu-ray offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that is also fine for what it is, but it is not as thorough as the Atmos.

Extras in our great tin packaging include a faux illustrated booklet that sells us why we should pay a ton of money daily to visit the Westworld amusement park, Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, then the discs add an 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), 2017 Comic Con Panel (New), 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 and 'The Big Moment' Featurette.

For more on Westworld, try this link to our coverage of the really excellent new Blu-ray of the original 1973 film...


Jeff Bridges (in one of his best roles!) stars in this epic western Wild Bill (1995) from Walter Hill (The Warriors) that is getting justice in HD courtesy of Twilight Time. The film has a fantastic cast which includes Ellen Barkin, John Hurt, Diane Lane, Keith Carradine, David Arquette, Christina Applegate, Bruce Dern, and James Gammon and centers around the last days of the gunslinger Wild Bill (played by Bridges). If you're a fan of Westerns, then you'll want to pick up this gem that's worth revisiting in high definition!

Wild Bill Hickok (Bridges), famed lawman and gunman of the Old West but is haunted by his violent past... which is the culmination of his infamous reputation. He is loved by, but cannot love, Calamity Jane (Barkin) and has to deal with young Jack McCall (Arquette), who blames him for abandoning his mother and destroying her life. McCall has sworn to kill Bill (no Tarantino related puns intended). However, with Bill's failing eyesight, and his fondness for opium is getting the best of him... still, Bill ain't going out without a bang!

Presented in 1080p high definition with a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and audio tracks in both English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) and English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA lossless tracks (MGM/UA wanted this to be a sonic showcase when they were strictly supporting DTS in theaters when it was new and you can definitely hear that here), the cinematic presentation here is top notch. For a western shot on 35mm (full color and black & white stocks), the film has beautiful photography and highly saturated colors that reflect the time period well by Director of Photography Lloyd Ahern II.

Special Features include...

Isolated score by Van Dyke Parks

Original Theatrical Trailer

Reversible Cover

and an Exclusive Collectible Insert Booklet with yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo.

This great film is a lot of fun and really is presented nicely on disc by Twilight Time.

To order the Wild Bill limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other great releases while supplies last at these links:




- Nicholas Sheffo (Westworld) and James Lockhart



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