“The Wheel of Time” on Amazon Prime Video: As exciting as bubble tea

That’s right, time is like a wheel. Everything is just coming back: the fashion of the nineties, bubble tea and even “Kevin – Home Alone” gets a remake. So how meta is it now when Amazon has made a film of the fantasy book series “The Wheel of Time”, which is precisely about: everything to come back? Is that the smartest comment on the present, is it involuntarily funny or is it just cynical?

The decision-makers at Amazon Studios in particular wanted to turn back time, preferably up to Game of Thrones. The fantasy series with the dragons and soft porn deposits was an unprecedented crowd puller that any of the major streaming services would have loved to have in their own program. In the USA the series ran on HBO, in Germany on Sky, Netflix has been trying for years (The Witcher), Apple TV+ (Foundation) and other streaming platforms to copy them. Even The Wheel of Time based on how Game of Thrones, on a series of brick-thick novels. The author Robert Jordan died in 2007 and did not finish the series. But something like a missing plot is no longer an obstacle for many series, especially when the producers seem to suspect that the audience is tuned in because of something completely different. That’s probably true too, just what that means Game of Thrones can no longer be repeated so easily.

Almost everyone has to undress in the first episode, the bathtub being the most important prop

The Wheel of Time tells of a fantastic world (the film was shot in Slovenia), in which time is not linear but cyclical, so everything comes back, everything goes down at some point and then emerges again.

The blame for the downfall is not the time, but a guy called “Dragon” who is regularly reborn. Because a few foresighted people, including Rosamund Pike as a precocious sorceress, would like to prevent the next end of the world, they try to find out who this “Dragon” is this time and scour the world for young people of the appropriate age around 20. The circle of suspects soon shrinks to a few young people from a remote mountain village. Before the dubious Messiah is identified, the village is torched by an angry horde of Krampus and the sorceress finds herself caring for the completely characterless youth group. When hiking through enchanted forests and valleys, she has to protect the kids from the crazy farmhand Ruprecht with his friends and a couple of psychos dressed in white.

Wheel of Time

Costumes from the alternative clothing collection: Zoë Robins and Josha Stradowski are puzzling over which of them is the “Dragon”.

(Photo: Jan Thijs/Amazon)

The first three episodes shown in advance seem so rushed and eager: A lot The Wheel of Time is well meant. The idea with the Buddhist-inspired, cyclical time is original, there are sensible female characters and a diverse cast, but now there is no other way. One case for the plagiarism software is how meticulous the series is, right down to the individual scenes Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings hangs along. Rosamunde Pike had to dye her hair dark to be like Liv Taylor as Elbe in Lord of the Rings to look Hopefully not.

The sex scenes are comparatively good, but of course most of the characters have to undress in the first episode. Bathtub, most important prop. Those who are not naked are burned, amputated and torn to shreds. Behind the violence voyeurism, from Game of Thrones no serial maker dares to go back. The fantastic world in which it all takes place consists of interchangeable, romantically ornate forests, mountains and villages. What’s going to go wrong with the old formulas? Well: quite a lot.

Because that is special Lord of the Rings it wasn’t just the fantastic world and with Games of Thrones it wasn’t just sex and violence. The special thing about the films and the series, besides the much more complex story and how it was told, was that there had never been anything like it before. For decades, the books were considered impossible to film and the original fascination for the materials was that these fantastic worlds were brought to life in the first place. Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones took great risks. You dared to do something and you could feel it as a spectator. The adventure wasn’t just on screen, the film itself was the adventure. Just the fact that they existed and that filmmakers had dared to tackle these huge projects was something special. This cannot be repeated by simply copying it superficially.

Even Markus Söder babbles “Winter is coming!” When he talks about the corona virus

This mimicking has long since become the routine of streaming services, and that’s how it feels The Wheel of Time also: Like another cog in the large series production machine that turns and turns without wanting to produce anything new.

The “Lord of the Rings” books were once counterculture, part of the hippie movement and were revered by the filmmakers of New Hollywood, who consciously distanced themselves from greedy studio systems and ultra-conservative politics. Of the Game of Thrones-Author Georg RR Martin wanted to bring fantasy on par with high culture with his novels in the nineties, and the series actually made it into a political metaphor. Even Markus Söder babbles something about “Winter is coming!” When he talks about the Corona virus.

That is exactly The Wheel of Time but not all. And don’t want to either. The series is not innovative, it dares nothing and it just doesn’t want to be political or socially critical, although that is obvious with its topic. Actually that would be okay too. Not every series has to reinvent the wheel or spark a debate. Only the announcement is with The Wheel of Time just another. It is promoted by Amazon marketing as the most anticipated series of the year. This arrogance and at the same time complete courage and insignificance reveals above all how the studios see their customers in the meantime: superficial, undemanding and satisfied when you put a few knights, monsters and enough naked people in front of them. It should not be confirmed in this.

The Wheel of Time, 8 episodes, on Amazon Prime Video


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