Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The Colour of Magic

directed by Vadim Jean

The Colour Of Magic poster  
The Colour of Magic is an adaptation of the first two Discworld novels, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. The books were largely a parody of the whole sword-and-sorcery genre of the period (the first book was published in 1983), so there's a certain nostalgia about some of the jokes and references.

Rincewind (David Jason) is a wizard without much magical ability or ambition. Expelled from Unseen University, he's downcast until he bumps into Twoflower (Sean Astin), the Disc's first tourist. After meeting Twoflower he's mainly too scared to feel depressed. Twoflower is determined to take in all the best sights of Ankh-Morpork and the Disc, no matter how dangerous these places may be. Rincewind agrees to act as his guide. But he's not so keen when he realises that the naive Twoflower, not realising how wealthy he is, is a magnet for trouble.

The Patrician (Jeremy Irons) convinces Rincewind, in his very persuasive way, that it's in his own best interests to take care of Twoflower. The Patrician is also eager to keep Twoflower safe, for the sake of good international relations.

Meanwhile a powerful spell book known as the Octavo is acting out of sorts. As the world turtle, Great A'tuin, moves closer and closer to a certain star people on the Disc start to fear that an apocalyptic calamity is about to take place.

Trymon (Tim Curry) is an ambitious wizard, bent on advancement via the traditional method of assassinating the wizards that stand in the way of his advancement. He has his sights on the Arch Chancellor's job, and also on Rincewind when he learns that the hapless wizard is somehow connected with the Octavo.

Twoflower, Rincewind, and The Luggage's travels take them to the territory of magic swords, dragons, trolls, and even to the edge of the world. Throughout their journeys Twoflower maintains a relentlessly cheerful outlook. Sean Astin's Twoflower is a charmingly enthusiastic yet shortsighted tourist, conspicuous and open-minded yet blinkered to the inequalities around him and the bad side of human nature. Twoflower's native language sounds a little like Japanese, yet his accent and dress sense are more American, as though he's the archetypal leisured traveller.

According to Terry Pratchett's introduction, David Jason has wanted to play the role of Rincewind for quite some time. It's unfortunate, then, that he seems to be miscast as the wizard, and not merely because he played a very convincing Albert in Hogfather. Physically he's neither undernourished nor tall enough to look like Rincewind. But more importantly he doesn't pull off Rincewind's weaselly, cowardly nature very believably. It's just too easy to imagine him showing some backbone, whereas Rincewind has none.

The Colour of Magic isn't quite as funny as the books, although it does have a coherent plot and a steady supply of gags. Visually it ranges from impressive to totally childish, which is to say that the effects are always good but the creatures they depict are sometimes silly. The movie has been simplified for a more general audience, and a lot of the more technical asides and subplots have been taken out, in favour of providing a good spectacle. This is a movie that children will enjoy most of all, because a fair bit has been lost in the translation to the screen.

Film Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Films

  Kids     Fantasy

Classification: PG

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
More about Vadim Jean