The really strange thing about the success of Lord of the Rings is that it never translated into that new wave of adult oriented fantasy so many had predicted. Instead, it prompted Hollywood to run out and make a bunch of crummy, kid-oriented fantasies. Or maybe Harry Potter was to blame for that. Whatever the reason, Lord of the Rings still stands almost entirely alone when it comes to fantasy filmmaking for an adult audience.
They may be a few years too late, but somebody in Hollywood has at last had the sense to wake up to the potential of wizard movies for adults. Variety says Universal has acquired the rights to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. They’ll start working on adapting the first book in the bunch, The Eye of the World soon. It’s being produced in part, by the company that made graphic novel versions of the story, so at least there’s someone involved who is in some way familiar with the property.
If you haven’t read the Wheel of Time series, it’s worth a look… up to a point. Author Robert Jordan wrote a dozen books, but its really only the first 5 or 6 which are actually worth reading, assuming you don’t mind never getting any sort of ending. For me, the fourth was definitely the high water mark. The series tells the story of a boy named Rand al’Thor, who grows up with the rare ability to tap the “source”, a mysterious and incredible power. He and his friends are taken from their village by an Aes Sedai (their name for a female wizard) and head off for a date with destiny. The whole thing takes place in an alternate world which, particularly in the first book Eye of the World, blatantly borrows a lot of its best ideas from other fantasy literature, Lord of the Rings in particular. Once the first book is out of the way, Jordan does a better job of finding his own voice and his characters take on a life of their own. He has some pretty great, rather unique fantasy concepts too. For instance I've always loved the idea that the Aes Sedai aren't affected by cold, simply because they refuse to let it touch them. It's not magic, they just ignore it. For that matte,r there's really no magic anywhere in the book. Jordan's stories are set in a psuedo-medieval alternate world, but his approach to fantasy, magical powers is almost scientific.
Still, will it work as a movie? Wheel of Time fans were dealt a blow recently when author Robert Jordan died, before completing the series’ final book. Now the Wheel of Time will have an ending, but Jordan only had the book partially done and it’s being finished by a host of other people, including his wife. It’s somewhat ironic really, the big problem with the Wheel of Time series has always been that Jordan just didn’t know how to end it. It probably should have ended with book nine or ten, but Jordan kept finding excuses to drag the thing on and on. Long before Jordan's death, even some of the books’ most hardcore fans had jumped off the bandwagon. If Hollywood is serious about turning this into a franchise, hopefully they’ll have a better way to end it than dragging us through an endless series of dead-end character delays which really don’t matter.
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