The Shannara Chronicles: Here’s hoping

The Shannara Chronicles will be hitting the TV screen in January 2016. Based on the bestselling fantasy book series by Terry Brooks, this seriously has a lot of potential to be a very cool TV series. The series will pick up the story at “The Elfstones of Shannara”, the second book in the original book trilogy, and not “The sword of Shannara”, which was the first book. This is probably wise, as sword of Shannara might never be able to shake off its reputation as a Lord of the Rings ripp-off. Good decision TV guys, so Elfstones it is.

Now we all know how this works… there is something that you kind of enjoy or think has potential, then hollywood takes it and completely messes it up. Will the Shannara chronicles leave us with this same sense of disappointment? Who can tell… I won’t be able to cast my vote until I actually see what they did with it. But for now, I would like to speculate a bit as to what lies in store for us.

Having only a first look teaser, and now a lone trailer to work with, let’s get analyzing:

Cinematography

Yeah so, if the series is going to look anything like the trailer, then the cinematography is going to be awesome. It may even be better than your standard TV series quality. The trailer boasts one shot where a massive old and rusted aircraft carrier (ship) lies between the mountains. I simply love stuff like that. In case you are not aware, the Shannara books play off in a post apocalyptic earth of sorts. All technology has been gone for so long that for all intents and purposes the world where the stories play out is simply a medieval fantasy world.

But anyway, post apocalyptic world for the win, because even though it’s bad, it’s still cool :)

Cast

I have been surprised by cast in the past… sometimes a director sees something in an actor I did not expect and it works out. So I am not going to be too phased about the cast… but…  the most important character to cast in this series is Allanon. Every fantasy world has their larger than life bad-ass, and in the Shannara world, Allanon is that person. Manu Bennett has been casted as Allanon, and I’m really not sure how to feel about it. I think Manu can demand attention, dominating an atmosphere, so maybe it will work. But the real Allanon is over seven feet tall… and Manu is not… sigh. If Allanon is wrong here, then the series won’t work. Not only is he the center figure of the stories, but (spoiler alert!) he is also the only character that reappears in the other books, so it will be him that plays in the second season and not the other cast members, should there ever be a second season.

Then of course they casted John Rhys-Davies as Eventine Elessedil. That’s kind of cool. If you have a fantasy movie or series, then John Rhys-Davies has the potential to bring some nerdy essence to the table… and an Axe

Story

Who knows what they did with the story. I have a suspicion I won’t recognize it at all, but maybe it won’t be too bad. In the trailer I could already see a lot of places and things that were not in the book, but all those places looked seriously cool,  so maybe the added flavor is good.

The one thing that I did not see in the trailer that leaves me slightly doubtful, is the lack of the major battle/war scenes. Half the story of Elfstones revolves around a massive scale war between elves and demons (mostly). Terry Brooks likes his all out battles, and I enjoy them as well. Few things are as enjoyable as seeing a massive battle play out on screen, drawing you into the intensity of what is happening. I did not see any battle scenes in the trailer, and therefore my assumption is that they cut out a lot of that because of budget constraints. If that is so it will be very sad, it’s a major part of the story, and it really should be there in full flavor.

Conclusion

It’s impossible to know what this series holds in for us, but I will allow myself to be hopeful. Terry Brooks writes clean fantasy adventure. The series will be rated PG13 and can therefore be enjoyed by a broader audience, unlike some other fantasy TV series that I will not name.

In Terry Brook’s books, good is good and bad is bad, and they fight it out. There is an element of that black-and-white, no grey-zone take on fantasy that I always enjoyed.

So with a clean, awesome looking, family fantasy adventure, maybe this will be worth the watch.

 

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