The Wheel of Time is a book series spanning 14 novels, 15 if you include the prequel by Robert Jordan. The books calculate to have over 4.4 million words which throughout the series takes place over the span of two years in a very expansive world. It really intrigued me when I heard that a show was in development and then in September 2019 went into production.
Amazon Studios have truly crafted a phenomenal adaptation, In fact having a life-long fan at the helm of the series makes The Wheel of Time a worthy one indeed as Rafe Lee Judkins sprinkles every speck of detail as having now watched episodes 1-6 he manages to create an impressive start with a richly detailed world, high-fantasy magic, phenomenal visual effects on the Trolloc’s and Dark One. It also tells a gripping fantastical adventure as a group of friends from a secluded village discover their roles in an upcoming battle where existence itself is at risk.
Set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists and only certain women are allowed to access it, the story follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the incredibly powerful all-female organisation called the Aes Sedai, as she arrives in the small town of Two Rivers. There, she embarks on a dangerous, world-spanning journey with five young men and women, one of whom is prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn, who will either save or destroy humanity.
With a reported $10 million budget per-episode, The Wheel of Time spares no expense to create Jordan’s fantasy world that drew heavily from Tolkien, cultures and religions. The world Amazon Studios have created is truly expansive and everything was high quality with immersive locations hosting these detailed sets, especially the Two Rivers. The breathtaking landscapes also play a magnificent part in this epic fantasy as the bulk of the series was shot in Prague, Czech Republic, and its surrounding areas. The city which was eastern European was perfect for the ancient and mystic aesthetic which the show needed. But also the surrounding forests and mountains helped portray and showcase the long heroes journey the characters go on.
The Visual and practical Effects are also created magnificently, we see spells, creatures and magic throughout the series and beginning with an onslaught from the Trolloc army. Trolloc’s are a type of shadowspawn, they comprise the bulk of the Dark One’s army. They’re huge with the body of a man, and the head and feet of an animal such as a bear, bird, wolf or goat. Practical up-close then enhanced with VFX CGI doubles when in a swarm of them.
With Lightning and practical effects and visuals the Ae Sedai cast, they ward off these gigantic creatures. the smoke effects also create an alluring environment.
Casting for any large series like this is daunting as you need to find actors who fit the part and most will have to be in seasons for the long haul. Every actor in The wheel of Time gives their best in the series and each inhabit their character remarkably well.
Rosamund Pike is stellar in the role of Moiraine, she’s often stoic as the Aes Sedai are known for. but its the emotion in her performance that truly captures the essence of her character. Moiraine is a powerful Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah and is on a quest to find the dragon reborn. In the first three episodes she’s following a prophecy about this reincarnated figure and wants to find him or her before the Dark One can. She is reserved and overflowing with quiet wisdom but she can truly fight against a whole army of Trolloc’s by herself as she possesses the strong talent of the One Power.
Alongside Pike is Daniel Henney who plays Lan Mandragoran. He is a warder to Moiraine, but is so much more than meets the eye. stoic and often serious. Lan is magically bonded to Moiraine who protects her and fights by her side, his sword skills are phenomenal . He shows loyalty to his traveling companions but it’s the bond between these two actors that I have plenty of praise for. Both embody their characters and have a relationship that is far greater than friendship. Henney is brilliant in the role.
Supporting these two on their journey are the core group of characters from Emond’s Field. Madeleine Madden plays Egwene. She is strong-willed and determined. she’s the innkeepers daughter too but she wants more from running her fathers inn and marry her childhood sweetheart, a sheepherder. during the episodes she’s more ok with having to suddenly leave home with Moiraine, as she wants to see more of the world.
Barney Harris plays Mat Cauthon, a rogue and a gambler with a cheeky sense of humour. He has a devil-may-care attitude as he’s always ready to throw a dice or pull a prank on some unexpected person. He also gets himself into trouble all the time, he’s curious and not at all worried about consequences. Harris is good in the role throughout season one so far and balances Mat’s humour and the darkness that grows within him.
Marcus Rutherford plays Perrin Aybara, the local blacksmith. He’s kind and gentle and constantly moving and thinking deliberately. Taller and burlier than his friends, Perrin is slow to anger but rage overtakes him in these episodes I was given.
And finally there’s Josha Stradowski playing Rand Al’Thor, who’s is the sheepherder and Egwene’s childhood sweetheart. he adores the simple life and his father Tam. He looks forward to a future where he can marry Egwene and raise a family of his own in Two Rivers. His character always strives to do the right thing even when what’s ahead is completely unexpected. Stradowski truly excels in the role and fully embraces the character with these complex layers.
Every character in The Wheel of Time is deeply connected. This group of friends have been together their entire lives and you can truly see that in every exchange. They work really well as an ensemble and the chemistry among all the actors is excellent.
The score for the show was truly outstanding and one of my favourite aspects of each episode, Lorne Balfe has truly delivered a grand epic score.
Overall, The Wheel of Time is an excellent translation from page to screen. It honours the source material and elevates the story with powerful cast and an EPIC engaging story which is gripping and fully immersed in FANTASY.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore | Breathtaking Visuals, Ensemble Cast and a Masterful Score
Warner Bros. Pictures Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is the newest and third instalment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise that truly recaptures the magic of a globetrotting adventure throughout the Wizarding World.
This magical adventure sends a team of unlikely heroes, led by Newt Scamander, on a mission that could spell their only chance to save both the wizarding and non-magical worlds. Each has a role to play in the covert operation devised by the ultimate wizarding mastermind, Professor Albus Dumbledore.
Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows that powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts in Newt (Eddie Redmayne) to lead this intrepid group of wizards, witches, and one brave muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore focuses on Albus’s past and answers questions we didn’t know during the Harry Potter films such as about himself and his family. Dumbledore has been one of the most major figures and a beloved character in the wizarding world for over twenty years. In the Potter books and films, Albus is charming, knowledgeable, mischievous, and all-knowing. These films showcase Dumbledore in a formative period, a period that will ultimately define the person he will eventually become.
Jude Law reprises the role of the wizard destined to be Headmaster at Hogwarts. He portrays the young professor perfectly and embodies the character and his flaws. With a glint in his eyes, there were a few nods to Harris and Gambon, especially the fatherly mischief each actor brought to the role. With Law, we’re able to unveil more of Dumbledore’s past and delve into his connection with Grindelwald as a young man and at the point where their relationship started to shift. Dumbledore is someone who encourages people to excel in their potential and abilities, but within him, he lives with dark secrets.
Many of the themes throughout the film focus on loyalty and misplaced loyalty, and also the ability to correct the errors one has done in the past and move on.
Grindelwald however is a wanted man due to his radical beliefs and violent tactics. In Secrets of Dumbledore, the powerful dark wizard has emerged from the shadows and is ready to implement his plot to gain control of the entire wizarding world and ultimately wage an all-out war on the Muggles. However this time he is not operating outside the law but within the system while twisting it to his own advantage, which makes him all the more dangerous.
Mikkelsen brings different elements to the table but is able to slip into the role quite naturally. He portrays Grindelwald with suave, charming charisma which certainly would convince viewers that anyone would be seduced by this alluring wizard.
Dumbledore is the one wizard with the power to thwart Grindelwald’s ambitions, however, there remains a physical manifestation of their previous relationship that stops him. The Blood oath is the embodiment of the bond between Gellert and Albus, an oath made through youthful passion and shared beliefs. Both wizards are each having to use others as means to opposite ends. Grindelwald cannot make a move against Dumbledore, but Albus is in the way of Gellert gaining absolute power.
Dumbledore formulates a plan that involves his friend and former student Newt Scamander, reprising the role of the Magizoologist Eddie Redmayne. We get to see Newt where he’s at his best and happiest- out in the wild, tracking beasts. Eddie is such a transformative actor and conveys Newt’s social awkwardness in contrast to his dexterity when he’s in the field.
Newt is joined by some familiar faces, including his older brother, Theseus (Callum Turner), Newt’s long-suffering assistant, Bunty (Victoria Yeates), Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) and Muggle Baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). A new witch to the group is Eulalie “Lally” Hicks, a charming charms professor at the American wizarding school Ilvermorny, played by Jessica Williams. It is Lally who must convince the reluctant Jacob to venture back into the wizarding world. Willams’s charismatic performance as Lally is why her character steals every scene. She is forthright and moral but also funny and honest and really just brilliant, would definitely love to see more of her character.
These five disparate wizards, witches, and Muggle seem no math for Grindelwald and his entourage, which sadly now includes the love of Jacob’s life, Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and the young man known as Credence whose real name was revealed in Crimes of Grindelwald to be Aurelius Dumbledore.
The ensemble also includes Richard Coyle as Albus’s brother, Aberforth Dumbledore; Poppy Corby-Tuech as Grindelwald’s loyal acolyte Rosier; Fiona Glascott as Minerva McGonagall; Oliver Masucci as Anton Vogel, the outgoing President of the International Confederation of Wizards; Maria Fernanda Cândido as Vicência Santos, running to replace him; Aleksandr Kuznetsov as Helmut, the head of the German Auror office; and Katherine Waterston, who briefly appears as Tina Goldstein.
The Secrets of Dumbledore also features a variety of magical creatures, both new and familiar such as the all-seeing Qilin, a mythological creature that is deer and Elk inspired. The Manticore is another beast that explores the fine line between comedy and horror. It resembles a cross between a crab, lobster, and a scorpion.
Newt is once again joined on the Adventure by Pickett, his brave and resourceful Bowtruckle, and the incorrigible Niffler, called Teddy is always the scene-stealer.
Fantastic Beasts continue the series’ tradition with the action taking place throughout new continents in the wizarding world. This globetrotting chase takes Newt and the rest of Dumbledore’s army from Great Britain to China, from New York to Germany, and from the Austrian Alps to Bhutan. We also return to the beloved Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and to the nearby village of Hogsmeade.
My favourite sequence is set aboard a luxury train car with a large interior of a first-class carriage.
The final screenplay was also written by Steve Kloves, who has a long tenure in the Wizarding World, having also written the screenplays for seven of the Harry Potter films. He’s a welcome addition to Fantastic Beasts as he course-corrects this franchise back to its original magical roots. Composer James Newton Howard has once again created a phenomenal soundtrack that underscores each of the characters’ adventures.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was a FANTASTIC! globetrotting adventure through the Wizarding World. With breathtaking visuals, ensemble cast, & masterful score. Full of heart, humour, & plenty of magnificent creatures all deliver a Magical experience.
THE SPINE OF NIGHT | An Ultra-Violent, High-Fantasy Epic!
This animated fantasy-horror flick is guaranteed to melt your face off!
The Spine of Night is an ultra-violent, high-fantasy epic adventure that is reminiscent of sword and sorcery classics. Features mind-bending sequences thanks to its elements of dark magic and the film becomes a visual treat courtesy of its full-on brutality. Within the first moments, The Spine of Night grabs you by surprise as the rotoscope animation is pure artistry. And in the vein of Heavy Metal, the film pushes all the boundaries as it showcases visual storytelling at its best.
The Spine of Night takes the viewer through the centuries and to a medieval hinterland where fantasy fables. The story focuses on the thirst for knowledge, the lust for power, and ultimately the blaze of both. When an earthly dark power- a mysterious blue flower known as “the bloom” is stolen from its rightful caretakers, all of the mankind slip into an unending world of strife and darkness as the flower can create great abundance or be used to destroy. It’s up to a group of heroes from different eras and cultures to stop the one responsible and bring back balance to nature and mankind.
The Spine of Night functions somewhat as an anthology, we see a series of tales tied together by a common thread and told hauntingly and beautifully from the perspective of Tzod, a centuries-old swamp witch voiced by Lucy Lawless, her character naked with barely primitive clothing and gear braves this barbaric high fantasy by climbing through frigid conditions whilst ascending a mountaintop to speak to the flower’s guardian voiced beautifully by Richard E. Grant. What ensues is exchanging tales centred on betrayal, slaughter, and oppression. This gives the audience a deeper understanding of this universe and its capricious gods. Tzod uses the blue flower to perform hallucinatory rituals for her tribe, but its power is stolen by lord Pyrantin (Patton Oswalt), who has an army at his disposal and megalomaniacal ambitions. However, both are screwed over by a scheming necromancer who wants to take over the world until the flower itself begins to drive him mad. what begins as a simple desire for power becomes a genocidal crusade for death and destruction. Directors Morgan Galen King and Philip Gelatt deliver something spectacular.
The film doesn’t mess around when it comes to its depiction of sex and violence, the film at its best is full-on brutal with full-on nudity and graphic carnage. People are sliced and diced in some visceral sequences. The violence jumps out of the screen thanks to its exceptionally detailed, rotoscope animation. The backdrops are glorious as each sequence switches up its colour palette. Characters are brought to life through the rotoscoping technique with painstaking expressive detail. The filmmakers have achieved in making this world feel like a nightmare and have succeeded in indulging all the tropes such as fantasy, surrealism, imagination to make a fantasy epic, a first in adult animation.
The Spine of Night is available on Shudder from March 24th.
Brand New Clip for FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE | Reveals a Familiar Room
Wizards, Witches, and Muggles prepare for the latest and newest adventure in the Wizarding World as Warner Bros Pictures ramps up the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. With just 2 weeks to go, Warner Bros has released a brand new clip from The Secrets of Dumbledore which you can check out below, the clip takes us back to Hogwarts where Dumbledore’s army consisting of Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander, Callum Turner’s Theseus Scamander, Dan Fogler’s Jacob Kowalski, and Jessica Williams’ Professor Eulalie Hicks. All have been gathered together by Dumbledore in the Room of Requirement.
Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?
The film features an ensemble cast, including Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), two-time Oscar nominee Jude Law (“Cold Mountain,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley”), Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, William Nadylam, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Victoria Yeates, Poppy Corby-Tuech, Fiona Glascott, Katherine Waterston, Maria Fernanda Cândido, Richard Coyle, Oliver Masucci, Valerie Pachner, and Mads Mikkelsen.
The Secrets of Dumbledore is coming to cinemas on April 8th, 2022 nationwide and internationally in theatres on April 15th.
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