The Wheel of Time
Madeleine Madden is catapulted onto the world stage in a sprawling, entertaining new fantasy from Amazon Prime.
There’s captivating scenery, action aplenty, romance and magic -and you even get Madeleine Madden in a break-out role.
Yes, there’s a lot to like in Amazon Prime Video’s new saga, The Wheel of Time.
Based on best-selling books by Robert Jordan the big budget 8 part series is money on the screen and effortlessly entertaining while we await Lord of the Rings in 2022.
At the hub of this wheel is Rosamund Pike as Moiraine, a member of the powerful all-female organisation called the Aes Sedai. Accompanied by her sword-wielding warrior companion Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) she is on a quest to find a reincarnated dragon/ child, who has the prophesied power to either save the world or destroy it.
Arriving in the small medieval town of Two Rivers she encounters a band of young men and women who could include the chosen one. They are Egwene (Madeleine Madden), who has inherited the ability to speak to the wind, handsome young archer Rand (Josha Stradowski) -with whom Egwen has a thing- blacksmith Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris).
Moiraine is treated as an outsider in the village until the vengeful trollocs wreak havoc on the innocents and her magic fireballs help save the day. But it’s clear that dark forces are upon them so the group begin a quest to the White Tower, endeavouring to stay one step ahead of the trolloc army.
Along the way there will be tests and threats as the young followers discover their true selves and hopefully which one is the reincarnated ‘Dragon’ (I’d tip that to be the season finale?).
Rosamund Pike is worlds apart from her last Prime Video outing, I Care a Lot, in a dominant, if cold role, but it’s nice to see it is women who rule this universe. Aussie Madeleine Madden (Mystery Road, Picnic at Hanging Rock) as the juvenile lead, and affecting a largely British accent, is fantastic as Egwene. She tumbles into rivers, shows vulnerability and strength and makes a matinee debut onto the world stage here.
Joining them in swooning scenes is dashing Josha Stradowski (High Flyers), drawn to Egwene but with a boyish temper. The other roles of Perrin and Mat Cauthon aren’t afforded quite as much screen time or character development in early episodes, but you get the feeling there is plenty of time in this wheel for that. There is also colour-blind casting throughout this world, which never feels imposed.
The troupe are surrounded by period extras, CGI threats and stunning vistas (Prague landscapes are almost worth the time alone). Collectively, these make the series an easy watch as it ticks plenty of fantasy boxes. This doesn’t automatically place it alongside seminal work such as Game of Thrones but you get the feeling it certainly hopes to achieve such.
That’s going to depend on script above all else and it’s too early to know if this will ultimately land as high quality Young Adult entertainment or something that commands true respect.
Nonetheless, you’ll surely enjoy this wheel as it turns through magic, fear, romance and gallantry.
The Wheel of Time screens Friday at Amazon Prime Video.