This is a spoiler-free review – chill. I sat down an took in the pilot of MTV’s Chronicles of Shannara series. It was a concerted effort. To be honest, I didn’t go in with a lot of high hopes. After all, it is MTV. They put the “W” in Quality. Also, I read the Sword of Shannara series roughly a hundred years ago (or thirty, my memories are a little fuzzy), and I found the books good – not great. A lot of what I read felt like Lord of the Rings Lite at the time. It’s wasn’t really fair of me to compare it to Tolkien’s work in the first place but it was an era where fantasy was just really coming into its own. Shannara was a different kind of fantasy series. Yes, some elements seemed the same, but the essence of the story was quite different and the characters were actually pretty good. (Damn it Blaine, you just convinced yourself to go and re-read the series!)
So I planted my tongue firmly in cheek and watched the pilot.
My take? It was okay. I wanted to compare it with Game of Thrones, but much like my notes above, that’s not fair. The series is very different on a lot of fronts. The story is solid, really building off of the Elfstones of Shannara book in the series. This is not a grand opera like GoT or a huge ensemble cast of key characters. In this series, the plot is big, with a defined end (or so I think. Hey, it was just the pilot)
There was a LOT of CGI for the scenes and special effects, and the CGI was not the best. Where GoT goes to some exciting locales for filming, MTV took Shannara to a digital rendering lab.
The acting was a mix of good and mediocre. The actress Poppy Drayton, who played the princess, was fair in her role. She would have been better if the writing had been better. The character of Wil Ohmsford was blah, at least to me. I am not a fan of the whining. I pictured the character of Allanon to be older, more wizardly. In this rendition he’s kind of a wizard-warrior who is a little over-dramatic.
Then again this isn’t Game of Thrones. It’s scale and scope of smaller. MTV needs to focus on the writing rather than the CGI and this series may have a chance. Otherwise, this is middle-of-the-road, in a season where we just got a new Star Wars movie.
I give this a three out of five stars. I’m counting on the next episode to get better. I mean REALLY counting on that.