Terry Pratchett's

Available on DVD

Colour of Magic Logo

Rincewind -
David Jason

Twoflower -
Sean Astin

Cohen the Barbarian -
David Bradley

Trymon -
Tim Curry

Bethan -
Laura Haddock

Galder Weatherwax -
James Cosmo

Liessa -
Karen David

Death's voice -
Christopher Lee

The Patrician -
Jeremy Irons

Astrozoologist 2 -
Terry Pratchett


Episode 1 - The Colour of Magic

Rincewind, a disgraced wizard unable to do any magic, is expelled from the Unseen University and finds himself coming into contact with Twoflower, a stranger from overseas who is travelling in search of new sights and experiences. Twoflower is, therefore, the Discworld's first tourist and seems completely unaware of the danger that he and his large amount of gold find themselves in on the streets of Ankh-Morpork, the disc's most disreputable city. Rincewind, freshly hired as guide, is well aware of the danger, but could not possibly have anticipated that he would soon be fighting warrior women, riding imaginary dragons, nearly drowning and being launched off the very edge of the world.

Following the success of HOGFATHER, the makers of that fantasy spectacle have returned to the very beginning of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of books for their follow up, a much better starting place as much of the lore of the Disc is established there despite the plot being less a coherent whole and more of a vignette of comic situations .

Those situations, however, have been hacked down to only four in order to shoehorn the whole of the first book. The first (Twoflower in Ankh Morpork) is the most satisfying, pairing up Sean Astin's naive tourist with David Jason's cowardly, but streetwise wizard. At this point we'll take on the thorny problem fans of the books will have with the leads. Whilst David Jason looks nothing like the physical descriptions of Rincewind in the books it doesn't matter. He captures much of the essence of the character and brings with it his own sens of comic timing. Twoflower's asiatic-influenced tourist is, however, much less successfully morphed into what might be a mix of the typical American and British holidaymakers abroad, passing through all the wonders that they see without ever really understanding their impact upon them. This failure is partly down to Sean Astin's performance which fails to invest the character with any...character.

The dragonrider sequence is a completely laugh-free and sense-free area. Sure, the dragons look fine, but we are barely introduced to the riders' leader before she and Rincewind engage in a pointless upside down fight and everyone flies away with nothing achieved other than a couple of vaguely humorous magic swords.

The rise to power of head wizard Trymon (Tim Curry chewing the scenery, which seems to be all he knows how to do any more) seems to bear no relationship to the main plot and is really a distracting set up for Episode 2.

And then there's the city at the edge of the rim and our heroes accidentally being launched into space, which just sort of happens.

Terry Pratchett is a literary genius and we worship the ground at his feet, but his style of writing with its witty asides and frankly bizarre tangents, does not adapt well to the screen.This adaptation of the first of the books is particularly poor. There is too much incident to pack into the running time and what appears to have been jettisoned is the humour and the sense. What's left is difficult to follow or find reason for if you haven't alrwady read the books and those who have will wonder where the jokes went. Even those few that are retained are killed in the telling (I'm thinking the over-explanation of in-sewer-ants (it's insurance geddit?) and the circumfence). The Luggage on its many tiny feet is impressively realised, though.

This opening episode of THE COLOUR OF MAGIC is unlikely to win new converts to the Discworld cause and is likely to annoy the fans (when not boring the pants off them).

Oh and Jeremy Irons - what possessed you to undermine the threat of the Patrician by playing him with a silly voice?


Episode 2 - The Light Fantastic

Rincewind and Twoflower find themselves falling back into, rather than from, the Disc. The spell locked inside Rincewind's head is one of eight that must be spoken on the Solstice in Ankh Morpork and so a lot of people are trying to get hold of the wizard. Aling with the hapless tourist, the Discworld's greatest living hero and reluctant sacrificial virgin (she's reluctant to be saved) Rincewind must get back to the Unseen University alive and free enough to read all the spells an defeat Trymon's bid for ultimate power.

This episode, based on the second of the Discworld books, is a marked improvement on the first. It benefits from a much more coherent plot with a simple central core (wizard tries to go home whilst others try to catch him) and the introduction of a simply wonderful n character - Cohen the Barbarian - but still suffers from having too much to get into the time available. Events such as the trip to Death's door (literally) and an encounter with ancient troll are rushed through as is the interruption of a druid sacrifice, losing their impact.

Fortunately, the script contains a lot more of Pratchett's humour, mainly thanks to the presence of David Bradley's Cohen the Barbarian. A hero who has lived long enough to suffer the indignities of old age (bad back, no teeth etc) he is a creation full of wit and charm.

The episode also benefits from a gobsmackingly impressive climax as the threatening red sun finally reveals its secrets in a welter of beautiful CGI. It's a shame that the episode has to go on to a farewell scene that reminds too much of LORD OF THE RINGS:THE RETURN OF THE KING's many parting scenes.

Over the two episodes, THE COLOUR OF MAGIC remains a disappointment, but anyone who see's this that hasn't read the books needs to buy the full set immediately because only there does the true joy of the Discworld lie.








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