There are captivating scenarios, action galore, romance and magic, and you even get Madeleine Madden in a starring role.
Yes, there’s a lot to like about the new Amazon Prime Video saga, The wheel of time.
Based on Robert Jordan’s best-selling books, the big-budget 8-part series is screen money and effortlessly entertaining while we wait Lord of the Rings in 2022.
At the center of this wheel is Rosamund Pike as Moiraine, a member of the powerful all-female organization called Aes Sedai. Accompanied by her fellow sword-wielding warrior Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney), she is on a quest for a reincarnated dragon/child, who has the prophesied power to save the world or destroy it.
Arriving in the small medieval village of Two Rivers, she meets a band of young men and women who may include the chosen one. They are Egwene (Madeleine Madden), who has inherited the ability to speak in the wind, the handsome young archer Rand (Josha Stradowski) – with whom Egwen is in a relationship – the blacksmith Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris).
Moiraine is treated like an outsider in the village until vengeful trollocs ravage the innocents and her magical fireballs help save the day. But it’s clear that dark forces are upon them, so the group sets out on a quest towards the White Tower, trying to stay one step ahead of the trolloc army.
There will be trials and threats along the way as the young followers discover their true selves and hopefully what the reincarnated “Dragon” is (would I recommend it to be the season finale?).
Rosamund Pike is a world apart from her latest Prime Video outing, I care about it a lot, in a dominant role, albeit cold, but it’s nice to see that it’s women who rule this universe. Australian Madeleine Madden (Mystery Road, picnic at Hanging Rock) as a juvenile protagonist, and striking a largely British accent, she’s great as Egwene. She falls into rivers, shows vulnerability and strength and here makes her matinee debut on the world stage.
Joining them in scenes of swoon is the handsome Josha Stradowski (High flyers), attracted to Egwene but with a boyish character. Perrin and Mat Cauthon’s other roles aren’t afforded as much screen time or character development in the early episodes, but you get the feeling there’s plenty of time in this wheel for that. There’s also color-blind casting throughout this world, which never feels enforced.
The crew is surrounded by period extras, CGI menaces, and breathtaking vistas (Prague’s landscapes are almost worth the time alone). Collectively, these make the series an easy watch as it ticks a lot of fancy boxes. This does not automatically place it next to seminal works such as game of Thrones but you get the feeling that you certainly hope to achieve that goal.
It will mostly depend on the script and it’s too early to know if this will ultimately end up as high quality young adult entertainment or something that commands real respect.
However, you will surely enjoy this wheel as it spins through magic, fear, romance and gallantry.
The Wheel of Time airs Friday on Amazon Prime Video.