The swearing and gruesome violence don’t stop this fantasy series from feeling youthful and superficial
Based on Robert Jordan’s 1990 novel of the same name, the story unfolds in an imaginary world that is ruled by The Light, terrorized by The Dark One (a rather crude allegory for God and the Devil) and in which “the wheel” the Keeps the world going. It begins with a short prologue explaining that years ago men – led by a powerful figure named The Dragon – were responsible for the destruction of the world and that it was women who had to “pick up the pieces”.
It is the fate of any fantasy series to be compared to game of Thrones and Amazon Prime Videos The wheel of time has been no different so far. And while only the first three episodes of eight of The wheel of time are available now, priced at $ 10 million (£ 7,428,150) each. It’s not asking too much to at least try the show Have‘s epic swing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even come close.
Rosamund Pike leads a cast of otherwise relatively unknown actors as Moiraine, a member of the Aes Sedai, a magical sect of women who tune into the One Power and believe that the dragon has been reborn. To ensure that the born again does not bring the world to its knees again, she goes in search of him (or her).
She finds The Dragon in the tiny village of Two Rivers, but can’t decide which of four locals it could be and such – chased by The Dark Ones army of Trollocs (violent boar-giant hybrids) and the Eyeless (genuinely disturbing creatures) who remember him.) of the pale man in Guillermo del Toros Pan’s maze) – takes her on a trip to the headquarters of the Aes Sedai.
For such a potentially rich series The wheel of time is strangely flat. Little time is spent developing characters or exploring the politics, social hierarchy, and cultural touchstones of his world. Instead, there are many beautiful, but unnecessary, extensive landscape shots and overdramatic, exaggerated fight scenes.
There are also much of running – of wolves, of trollocs, of an inexplicable creeping black shadow. The action is valued, but if you focus on high intensity moments rather than immersing viewers in a compelling story, the show ends up feeling superficial.
The magic itself is reminiscent of the thin rays of light that gush out of Harry Potter’s wand – a series of films that ended more than 10 years ago. Surely special effects have appeared in leaps and bounds since then? To watch Hecht wield such weak powers with determined intensity is terrifying.
Pike’s superb acting stands out like a sore thumb from the often wooden, harrowing performances of the rest of the cast. One wonders what attracted her to the project, although I’m sure that the reason has a lot of zeros.
The four cast members who play the potential dragon – Josha Stradowski as Rand, Marcus Rutherford as Perrin, Barney Harris as Mat Cauthon, and Madeleine Madden as Egwene – have fleeting moments of great magnitude, but almost every supporting character is hammy. Nobody is helped by the frustrating and limited script in which Moiraine utters out of nowhere presumptuous prophecies such as “Legend will fade into myth and even myth will long be forgotten when the age that produced it returns”.
The main problem is that The wheel of time feels youthful. The gruesome violence and the occasional swearing do little to offset the immature and simplistic tone. Every open feminist message is reminiscent of that Girl boss Era that most of the world has outgrown and feels empty on a show that was largely created and brought to the big screen by men (although there are a few women on the writing team).
There’s nothing to fret about when it comes to this The wheel of time and it certainly fills a void in the fantasy market until the Have precursor House of the Dragon arrives. But with such a high budget, decent source material and a brilliant lead actor, how could it go so wrong?