Shannara Chronicles, “Chosen”, Review!

Jondee here at the Four Lands,

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The series begins with a two hour movie. A figure, bound, is running in a dark forest. Amberle (Poppy Drayton) is knocked down by her Uncle Ander (Aaron Jakubenko) to prepare for a test to become a one of the seven Chosen. Her friend, Catania (Brooke Williams), has brought her to the other candidates who are shirtless Elf men. Lorin (Mattias Inwood, the character in the book is spelled Lauren) is surprised, but kisses her hand. She comforted by Catania at the Gauntlet. They are blindfolded and bound in the race. Amberle is knocked down and has a vision of the Ellcrys tree. The others are bloody bashing into each other, she counts the trees, and leaps over a chasm. They reach the cheering crowds, Amberle is knocked down, kicks out a competitor and makes it to the line of the Chosen. In a chamber, King Eventine (John Rhys-Davies) is there, the blindfolds of the Chosen are taken off and cloaks wrapped around them. King Eventine welcomes the Chosen. He explains the tradition of the Chosen and the Ellcrys spell of Forbidding. It is clear in the book that the Chosen are ceremonial, but they tend to the tree making sure it’s healthy.  They step up in the ceremony, Amberle touches the tree, it is dripping with tar, and she sees a vision of a wasteland and demons.

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A frozen man, wakes up, gasping. He has tattoos on his body. A staff unfolds into a sword, he says, “It has begun.” This is Alannon, the last of the Druids, played by Manu Bennett. A young man rides up with a horse to a house in Shady Vale. This is Wil Ohmsford (Austin Butler). He sees his dying mother who gives him a pouch of Elfstones. She tells him, “Find the druid.” His mother is buried by a tree. Uncle Flick (Flick Ohmford was one of the heroes of the first book, Sword of Shannara) tells Wil that his father should have buried them. Amberle is sketching her vision of a demon. Lorin wants her to go to the celebration. Wil tells his uncle that he is moving to Storlock to become a healer. Night, the Elf city of Arborlon, the celebration. Amberle appears in red dress with high fashion headdress. The ornamentation of the Elf ears is a nice touch. She has a vision and goes to touch the Ellcrys. She sees a bleeding Lorin and holds a bloody blade. Lorin walks in and Amberle says that she killed him in the vision. He tries to hold her back and she takes his sword to knock him out.

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Rain, Wil reaches a break in a mossy freeway. A sunny day, he rides his horse past broken posts with skeletons. A thrown chain wraps around Wil’s neck and he falls. A monster that is part gas mask, part mutant, attacks, but is killed by a knife to the back. Will sees a woman (Ivana Baquero). She pulls up the body of the troll. She flips her dagger to pull back his hair to see his elf ears. She says her name, “Eretria” and runs off. Arborlon, Lorin puts his hand on the Ellcrys. Nothing. The prince finds him there and asks about Amberle. She is looking at a map to Culhaven. Amberle is on the head of a griffon statue. Will is riding with Eretria.  The Chosen find that the Ellcrys is sick. A hooded man uses magic to knock down a guard.  He takes off his hood and the king knows that this is Allanon. The king says he wasn’t seen the Druid for thirty years.

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The ruins, a house like a wooden onion is built on a tree. Eretria pours a drink as Wil takes a bath. He goes to take back the Elfstones bag at kissing distance to Eretria. She apologizes for drugging him and he collapses. Alannon is at the Ellcrys, he says it’s dying. A leaf falls and turns to cinder. At a burning mountain, a demon coughs, he has an Orc-like face, bald with pointed ears and chains along the bridge of his nose (Jed Brophy who played Nori the three peaked hair Dwarf in the Hobbit films). He takes a stone to form a staff. Claws of stone form a red globe around him. Wil is wakened by a blade. It’s Alannon and he says that Wil put the quest in jeopardy. He explains that Wil is the last of the Shannaras. Alannon says, “Come, your destiny awaits.” The Ellcrys drops another leaf. The Changeling appears, a woman with painted body, and white dreadlocks (Shushila Takao). Eretria is making camp. She hears a crack and throws a knife at Amberle. Eretria gets a cup and drops powder from her ring. Amberle throws the drink in Eretria’s face and holds a knife to her. Eretria’s lie that she’s married is noticed with no ring. She knows that Amberle is a Elf royalty. Amberle gets another vision. She gets Eretria’s bread and throws her a bracelet.

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Wil and Alannon race their horses across a desert. He has taken Wil to the Druid’s Keep, a sacred place of the druids. Alannon is looking for the Codex, the magical history of the Four Lands, to find a way to save the Ellcrys. King Eventine is taken Amberle’s picture of a demon. Druid’s Keep,, Alannon reaches a wall, Wil walks away. A wind swirls pages. Alannon throws fire at the wall and tears a section away to reveal the Codex. Wil is stunned. Alannon unlocks the Codex. Wil notices the scars on Alannon’s hand. He says magic always has a price. This is a very Merlin and Arthur relationship. Alannon reads that the seed of the Ellcrys carried by a Chosen needs to be taken to a Bloodfire fountain in Safehold. It goes dark and the demon takes control of Alannon’s hand. Alannon faces the demon, Dadgda Mor, he is controlled in his mind, and wakens knowing that he has to head back to Arborlon.

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Lorin sees Amberle, they kiss, and he is stabbed by the Changeling in Amberle’s form, demon eyes. The king is rushing with Alannon and Wil. They see the slaughtered Chosen. Amberle rides. There is more, the series has some moody, amber filtered photography, some special effects creatures and magic, but while there is Elves, magic trees, and other races, magic seems to be rare. Some of the characters like the Elf princes are difficult to distinguish also some actors. The cast is young with varying accents, but there is some sexiness that should bring in a young audience. The costumes are nice, a mix of contemporary fashion and medieval.  Terry Brooks’ Four Lands is there in a new form.  The leads, Drayton, Butler, and Baquero, are winning. Four Elfstones out of Five!

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