The Wheel of Time Review: Rosamund Pike's fantasy series keeps you engaged on its grand mystical ride

Updated on Nov 18, 2021 08:59 PM IST  |  199.4K
The Wheel of Time review
The Wheel of Time releases on Amazon Prime Video on November 19.

The Wheel of Time

The Wheel of Time Cast: Rosamund Pike, Daniel Henney

The Wheel of Time Creator: Rafe Judkins

Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime

The Wheel of Time stars: 3/5

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When it comes to the fantasy genre, viewers still seem to be on the search for something as engaging as Game Of Thrones. Despite its debatable ending or progression towards its final seasons, the show remained a go-to for lovers of the genre simply because of the scale and performances. David Benioff and D.B.Weiss managed to bring to life George R.R. Martin's massive books to life in the most impressive way and with Amazon Prime's The Wheel Of Time, the responsibility now falls on Rafe Judkins who adapts a similarly famous work of Robert Jordan's best-selling books.

The Wheel Of Time finds itself in the company of Martin's Game Of Thrones saga and J. R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings where the fictitious worlds are created with a detailing that seems almost impossible to make an adaptation of. Does Rafe succeed in capturing Jordan's world without missing out on its mythology and symbolism? Well, it's a big task at hand and having watched the first two episodes of the show provided to the press, I can say that it's an earnest attempt that certainly seems watchable.

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The Wheel Of Time takes off by introducing us to Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), who is a member of the Aes Sedai, an order of witches who are the only ones allowed to channel the One Power. The Aes Sedai is exclusively a group of women who fight the forces of darkness with their power. Moiraine is on a journey o a small town called Two Rivers where she suspects resides the Dragon Reborn, a man or a woman who can be tempted by the Light or the Dark to save or destroy humanity, and hence, she has to find this chosen one before the dark forces lure him or her. Along with her warder Lan Mondragoran (Daniel Henney), Moiraine identifies four people who could potentially be the Dragon Reborn. They include Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski),  Egwene al'Vere (i), Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford), and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris). With the dark forces also being on the same journey as Moiraine to get their hands on the potential chosen ones, she is tasked to ward them off to the White Tower, the Aes Sedai's headquarters at the earliest. With new obstacles coming on their way, will they reach the White Tower, and will the chosen one discover himself is what's left to see.

There's no denying that when one plans to adapt something like The Wheel of Time books, it's a massive task considering it could mean going into the very tedious details with an interpretation of several things that make up these interesting characters and the fantasy world. For Rafe Judkins' show, the focus seems to be on inviting an audience that is not strictly limited to the fandom of the book series, and hence, there's a lot of explaining to do right at the beginning as we go along meeting the lead characters and setting of the show. For book nerds though, I believe this may turn out to be a disappointing affair considering it may not be digging as deeper when it comes to hitting the underlying themes considering there's an attempt at making an equally visual piece that follows common tropes to keep the audiences entertained.

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The series gets its first season consisting of eight episodes and from the way the first two have begun, I do agree that the show may begin to grow on you with significant episodes as more power dynamics are revealed and other interesting characters come into play. The White Cloaks, for example,  an army of men who resent and hunt the Aes Sedai make an appearance early on and I'm assuming there's more to explore about them and the religious zeal that guides them to hunt down these witches. Lucky for Judkins, there's a lot of layering and characters already there at his expense thanks to the books but it only remains in his power to use them in a way, so as to make the most of them to keep you hooked to the show.

While Rosamund Pike seems to have nailed at playing characters that might as well kill you with their silent stares, as Moiraine, she brings the quality of being a silent observer but a sharp defender in the time of need well enough. In one of the scenes as she explains the history behind a song that Rand, Egwene, Perrin and Mat sing is a powerful one. Among the rest of the cast, the younger lot who play the potential chosen ones, it's Madeleine Madden who plays Egwene certainly stands out. Also, Zoë Robins' performance as the mystical healer Nynaeve al'Meara demands attention. Barney Harris also successfully brings humour at unexpected turns with his character Mat Cauthon. Much to my dismay, Money Heist's Alvaro Morte who featured in the series' promo, doesn't make an appearance in the introductory episodes of the series, which I'd say will definitely serve as bigger motivation for me to continue watching the series ahead.

ALSO READ: Rosamund Pike ADMITS feeling embarrassed of her role in movie Doom; Here's why

The Wheel Of Time doesn't come across as a show that demands your full attention in a way so as to stop and pause every detail of it. It's not trying to be too intelligent and simply relies on known storytelling tropes to keep you invested in it. Much like, most fantasy dramas, the show may find itself a divided audience with some hopping on board for its decent attempt at keeping you intrigued though, for die-hard fans of the fantasy books or the genre in itself, the series may seem like an unambitious affair. While there's nothing extraordinary in terms of the CGI work or direction for that matter, the series scores in its music department with Grammy winner Lorne Balfe's score.  

The Wheel of Time doesn't promise or deliver to be the best fantasy genre show out there. It simply manages to strike a balance at being neither shoddy nor exceptional, thus keeping things moderately entertaining all through. With a little more character death, the show does have the potential to become better than how it started off.



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