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A new fantasy production begins and while nothing about it is revolutionary, in the least bit, it does seem like the type of show which could gain the same type of dedicated following of shows which are low rated, yet have ardent fans.
Characters & Story (with Commentary)
In a possibly post-apocalyptic world, one in which elves, druids, trolls, gnomes, and more, co-exist, there is a princess. An elf princess who fits into what we have become used to in modern times. One which is a bit of a tomboy, doesn’t desire to really stay in the role of a princess, and is considered quite rebellious. Yet princess Amberle (Poppy Drayton) could possibly grow on you. For while she seems a bit generic as of now, she is on a quest to learn why she is inheriting visions from the Ellcrys tree. Visions which show demons, war, and death of loved ones.
But, let it be known, the story isn’t solely about Amberle, her family, and her journey. She shares being the lead with Wil (Austin Butler) who is a half-elf and one assumes half human. He seemingly has been sheltered most of his life and his father’s name seemingly has been damned since birth. Leaving the child to think his father was nothing but a drunk and deadbeat. Yet, a man named Allanon (Manu Bennett), someone who is a druid, says Wil’s father is anything but what his mother told him.
Thus leading to us watching two young people, with the possible future of their world on their shoulders, venture off, likely destined to meet, to face the rise of the demons who surely are looking for revenge.
Though the role isn’t large, as of “Chosen – Part 1,” I must say Eretria (Ivana Baquero) is definitely one to watch. You may remember Baquero from Pan’s Labyrinth, playing the lead character, and to me, she brings that oomph that many of these young adult novel adaptation don’t have. A lot of times the main focus seems to be someone most would find generally attractive, and then talent comes second. With Baquero though, as seen through her scenes with Butler, she doesn’t need shallow appeal to charm you. She knows how to fool you with simple movements, how she peers into another character’s eyes and makes you upset when you learn she should be considered a villain more than a hero.
While part of Butler’s praise comes from his interaction with Baquero, on his own I must admit I liked what was presented. If just because it had a sort of anime beginnings type of vibe. He is a half-elf with little to no knowledge of his father and then goes on a journey which comes after his parent’s death. A familiar story, I’ll admit, but Butler has this genuine fish out of water type of appeal which makes you think that his journey isn’t at all going to be easy and he will struggle. Something which I don’t feel can be said for Amberle.
Being that it is episode one, a lot of the history of the elf world is touched upon, but not gone into in-depth. However, the wars spoken about, the demons shown throughout the episode, and the little bit of magic we get to see, all of it does intrigue me a bit. To the point that I can forgive the corny dialog, and the bleh acting, of Amberle and her family.
A consistent criticism I use on this blog, especially when it comes to series which have fighting in it, is that a character has an almost “Rambo” type of perception. Meaning, no matter what is thrown at them, they end up triumphant in a blaze of glory. To me, that is boring and Amberle, no matter how you slice it, comes off like a boring character. Looks wise, she is the same skinny pale girl we have seen in countless shows and movies; her trying to fight the patriarchy of her society is interesting but, with her succeeding against her first obstacle toward doing that, it takes away from you desiring to root for her for any reason besides she is the lead; and, perhaps the biggest problem here, everything is a bit too convenient and clear. For whether it is this girl who desired to face this gauntlet trial being the chosen one, on top of being the princess, or that she just so happens to be a Eurocentric beauty, with the world at her feet, it all adds up to her being too privileged to really want to stand behind. This is in comparison to someone like Katniss, or even Beatrice, from The Hunger Games and Divergent, who may have some privilege, but start nearly from the bottom and you get to watch them rise up.
Hell, to put another comparison into play, take note of Akatsuki no Yona. Now, I’m not saying that it would have been best to have Amberle be in full-on princess mode, and so privileged that she is oblivious, but even with that series, there is some sort of build which takes someone spoiled by wealth into someone you want to see command and succeed.
On The Fence
While Amberle, as repeatedly noted, presents little reason to be interested in her, I must say that this little bit of family drama, likely dealing with running Arbolon, has potential. It doesn’t seem like internal strife may come from Amberle’s grandfather Eventine (John Rhys-Davies) stepping down, but there does seem to be the possibility. Which likely will become another focus of the show alongside Amberle and Wil’s journey.
Final Thought(s): Stick Around (Not Going To Cover, But Will Continue To Watch)
This, as of part 1, does not seem like the type of show which can stand up too much criticism. For while it definitely seems entertaining, a lot of what can be seen seems to not stray too far from established playbooks. For with Amberle’s lackluster foundation, in terms of who she is, where she is going, and why you should give a damn about her in particular, to a lot of the dialog seeming a bit corny, there are definitely a few ways it can improve.
However, one must take into consideration this is Drayton’s first real major role. Which makes the use of Butler and Baquero a life saver. For, in many ways, it seems their talent and skills are being used to compensate for Drayton. I mean, in the first episode alone Ereteria has stolen Amberle’s thunder as one of the lead female characters, Butler has used his charm from playing a love interest so much, and also has bought this sense that his character is hopeful, but a bit lost, to his character Wil as well.
Leading to, in general, an almost lopsided production. Hence why I’m saying to Stick Around. Yes, Wil and Eretria have the strong storyline and actors, but there is a chance that with time Amberle could catch up. After all, her visions make things seem like her life is about to quickly go downhill. Which, to me, could be the best thing to happen to her character, for then it will generate things being more dire for her, and present some sort of struggle which, perhaps, she can’t overcome. And once she breaks this “Rambo” princess perception, I think it might be easier to get into her character and storyline.