TV review: The Wheel Of Time
THE WHEEL OF TIME (M18)
If you are still seeking the next Game Of Thrones, The Wheel Of Time could well plug that void.
Currently showing on Amazon Prime Video, the fantasy adventure series is based on Robert Jordan's best-selling novel series of the same name, which actually inspired George R.R. Martin's Game Of Thrones book.
We have been on this road before. And sceptics may dismiss the show from the outset as a poor man's version of other genre favourites such as The Lord Of The Rings and The Witcher.
But this latest round of vast world-building, mysticism, violence and racially diverse casting from The Wheel Of Time keeps things turning and churning well enough to make it worth our while. The story follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the powerful all-female magical order called the Aes Sedai, as she arrives in the small town of Two Rivers.
Together with her Warder Lan (Daniel Henney), they embark on a dangerous journey with five young men and women (Zoe Robins, Barney Harris, Madeleine Madden, Marcus Rutherford and Josha Stradowski).
And as history repeats itself in cycles of thousands of years, one of these villagers is prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn, who will either save the world or destroy it.
Instead of Game Of Thrones' Night King and White Walkers, The Wheel Of Time's "Big Bad" is the Dark One, who sends his truly terrifying army of nightmarish Fades and monstrous Trollocs to track down this special individual.
Even though the quality of the CGI-boosted showdowns is inconsistent, the sequences deliver enough punch to make you want to continue following this Hero's Journey quest trope.
And even more fascinating than the sisterhood of the Aes Sedai, who can channel an elemental force called the One Power, is each woman's bond with her male protector, known as a Warder.
Pike and Henney are highly watchable as the protective parental figures to their charges, all of whom we come to care about.
Admittedly, The Wheel Of Time got off to a flawed, exposition-heavy start, and it will never scale the heights of pop culture mythology like Game Of Thrones.
But with a little more patience and investment, you will be rewarded with a much-needed escape. - JEANMARIE TAN