TV Review: “The Shannara Chronicles” – Elves, Humans & Magic! Oh No!

Written by Danielle Sing January 29, 2016

the shannara chronicles

The number of post-apocalyptic television shows are increasing with every new season, but “The Shannara Chronicles” introduces brings a touch of fantasy to a post-apocalyptic world. “The Shannara Chronicles” is based on a series of books by Terry Brooks, and is aired MTV. In recent years, some MTV shows have been good, but this trend does not continue with “The Shannara Chronicles”. A relatively simple quest plot, questionable acting and characters, and special effects that kill more than amaze – it feels like MTV bit off more than they could chew.

“The Shannara Chronicles” occurs 3000 years after a nuclear war that destroyed civilization, and also 300 years after The War of the Races, which included elves, humans, gnomes etc. Each race had a druid, who possessed magic. After the war, all magic stopped and all of the Demons were trapped within the Ellcrys, a tree protected by the Chosen. The Chosen are elves, and one of these is Princess Amberle (Poppy Drayton) who happens to gain visions of the demon, Dagda Mor (Jed Brophy), rising again. And then there is a half-elf named Will (Austin Butler), a rover named Eretria (Ivan Baquero), and the human druid, Allanon (Manu Bennett). Also, for some reason John Rhys-Davies is in this show as elf King Eventine.

“If our sins are coming back to kill us, we might as well get them all on the table.”

“The Shannara Chronicles” tries to give an equal amount of air time to each of the characters, but it’s difficult to know who some of them are since we aren’t even told basic details about them, like their names. I had to google the name of John Rhys-Davies character. Tthe audience cannot establish sympathy for character if you do not know who they are. Also the acting, I mean, it’s MTV. I don’t expect highbrow acting but with John Rhys-Davies and Manu Bennett on the cast list, you’d expect something better than the acting and reacting blank stare of the younger, main actors.

the shannara chronicles

The plot of “The Shannara Chronicles” is quite simple: there’s a chosen one dictated by a prophecy who goes on a quest to save their people. No, it’s not Harry Potter and it is not sword-wielding Princess Amberle despite being literally a part of the Chosen. It also is not Eretria, who happens to be a resourceful hunter and skilled in manipulation. So “The Shannara Chronicles” has two bad-ass females, but who is the chosen one, the Shannara? It is Will, the only boy, and someone who happens to be clueless. Sure, audiences love a good underdog story – a boy who has never left his village goes on a quest aided by some magical objects of unknown importance and nope, not Frodo – but Will is ridiculously worthless. Unfortunately that’s probably to play up the underdog story and the potential love triangle between the three main characters. MTV, why do you always have unnecessary romances?

“Don’t mistake terror for bravery.”

At first, I was seriously impressed that “The Shannara Chronicles” had a lot of special effects and the prosthetic make-up is good – Dagda Mor looks terrifying and the other races are well created – but the actual special effects are overkill. The CGI creatures are not the greatest looking and parts of the show live through an Instagram filter that induces some weird motion changing effect; it feels like I’m going to get motion sickness while watching. I think they used too much special effects, like a student using more glitter to impress the teacher.

the shannara chronicles

I’m not sure why I expected more of “The Shannara Chronicles”. Maybe it was my parents who told me that the books were good, so the show had to be interesting. If “The Shannara Chronicles” was on a different network, like The CW or Syfy, and had different actors, I think this novel could be adapted well. But as it stands, MTV’s “The Shannara Chronicles” is not a show you need to watch. I mean, it’s created by the same people that wrote the film “I Am Number Four”. That should have been a bigger warning sign than the black and yellow MTV logo.

My Rating: 3/10

the shannara chronciles

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