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.
‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ Adds Oscar-Nominee William H. Macy
The Planet of the Apes trilogy headlined by Andy Serkis from the 2010s can be argued as one of the best trilogies of all-time. The technological advances made from motion capture helped actors completely transform into the apes with their interactions with human characters making the story rawer and more emotional. Now, 20th Century Studios will jump back into the world of apes with their latest, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. Deadline reports that William H. Macy (Shameless, Fargo) will round out the cast for the newest chapter of the franchise.
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes takes place many years after the conclusion of War for the Planet of the Apes being led by an entirely new cast that includes Owen Teague, Freya Allan and Peter Macon. Details are currently unknown on whether Macy will be playing a human character or an ape. The film series has grossed almost $2 billion dollars for the studio so it’s no surprise that they’re aiming to make more Apes fims.
Macy is coming off his biggest role ever in Showtime’s series, Shameless for which he played Frank Gallagher and was nominated for 6 Emmy Awards for his performance over 11 seasons. Macy is also a former Oscar-nominee for his lead role in the Coen Brothers classic, Fargo. Since then, he’s amassed tons of parts including most recently in Hulu’s The Dropout and a guest spot on the ABC sitcom, The Conners. Macy will next appear in the film, Maybe I Do with Emma Roberts, Diane Keaton, Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon.
Rawson Marshall Thurber to Headline ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Series for Paramount+
Dungeons & Dragons seems to be the next major IP finding itself across multiple media formats. The move of bringing the iconic fantasy franchise will start in March on the big screen with the release of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, however, the TV series which has been in development has found its new streaming home. According to Deadline, the Dungeons & Dragons series will head to Paramount+ with Rawson Marshall Thurber (Red Notice, Skyscraper) writing the pilot and directing the first episode of the eight-episode season order.
The fantasy role-playing game has been ripe for an adaptation for years with many celebrities and actors being fans of the property since its inception. Honor Among Thieves already boasts a starry cast led by Chris Pine, Hugh Grant, Rege-Jean Page and Michelle Rodriguez, but there are no details on whether the streaming series would feature any of their characters crossing over. Dungeons & Dragons is yet another franchise starter over at Paramount in the game of streaming supremacy which will join Halo on their streaming service having done great numbers for Paramount+.
Dungeons & Dragons features multiple creatures, elves, human warriors and other fantastical entities engaging in campaigns, wars and quests to build out their respective armies. The massive Hasbro property was acquired by eOne to develop a media universe across film and television making it a priority due to its popularity and fan base that features over 50 million players.
Rawson Marshall Thurber most recently directed the Netflix action film, Red Notice starring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds. He previously teamed with Johnson for Skyscraper and Central Intelligence, but his career began in comedy helming popular films such as Dodgeball and We’re the Millers. Before moving into features, he also directed the very popular online short, Terry Tate, Office Linebacker. The filmmaker has also been attached to Netflix’s video game adaptation of The Division which will star Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain.
Henry Cavill to Headline ‘Warhammer 40K’ Series on Amazon Prime Video
With much of the talk surrounding Henry Cavill regarding his exit from Netflix’s The Witcher along with the shift of mentality from new DC Studios leadership, the actor is in need of a new franchise to jumpstart. It appears that Cavill has done just that with the latest news that comes from The Hot Mic podcast via Above the Line.
It appears that Cavill (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) will steer head an adaptation of Warhammer 40,000 for Amazon Prime Video. Cavill confirmed the news this morning via his Instagram. The property started as a miniature war game akin to Dungeons & Dragons where players control different characters across a battle board, so to speak. The game was a staple in England where Cavill played it much as a kid and his passion for the property has stuck ever since. So much so, that the actor still paints figures to this day for when he engages in play.
The property which is often abbreviated to Warhammer 40K, features a fictional war set 40,000 years into the future between humans and other mystical beings that include orcs, gods, demons, elves, aliens and supernatural entities. The game eventually was brought to the video game space where it amasses tons of players across the sci-fi fantasy gaming landscape. The property also lends itself to novels leaving a lot of room to grow as a franchise in the entertainment space with lore to play with.
Amazon continues to take steps towards building out large franchise plays for their streaming service, Prime Video. In addition to the acquisition of the rights to Warhammer 40,000, the streamer has recently made deals for video game properties like God of War, with creators like Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) and of course, a 2022 that was massive for the streamer with the launches of the pricey Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and Thursday Night Football. As they look to compete with Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming services, it’s a clear shift from Amazon to take some bigger risks for bigger rewards.
Cavill was most recently seen reprising his role as Sherlock Holmes in Netflix’s Enola Holmes 2 starring Millie Bobby Brown. In 2023, Cavill will star in Matthew Vaughn’s Argylle which aims to kickstart a new spy-based franchise similar to Mission: Impossible which Cavill also appeared in. He will star in Argylle alongside an all-star cast that includes Catherine O’Hara, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cena, Ariana DeBose and Dua Lipa.
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