A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 309 – The Color of Magic

The Color of Magic – January 3rd, 2011

After watching Hogfather the other night we went looking to see whether it might be worth buying this. After all, we did greatly enjoy Hogfather and this has the same director, Vadim Jean, who also worked on the theatrical adaptations of Pratchett’s novels. So we bought it and it arrived today and Andy very much wanted to watch it, so here we are. It’s actually a movie adaptation of the first two Discworld novels, The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic, with the stories being melded together. It makes for a rather long movie, over three hours, but given that it involves the same two protagonists it works okay.

I will admit here that it has been well over ten years since I last read either of the books this is based on. Andy loaned them to me early on in our relationship, possibly even before we’d officially started dating. We traded a lot of books and movies back when we first met, sussing each other out for geeky tendencies and interests. I hadn’t read any Discworld yet at that point and so he handed over his British copy of the first book (you can tell because it’s The Colour of Magic) and I loved it. Alas, since my reading habits tend towards the voracious, sometimes old favorites are merely treasured, not re-read over and over. And I remember very little in the way of specifics. Maybe this is a good thing, as it means I’m not liable to get upset over plot changes. And I’m sure there were some! That’s how these things go, especially with two books being stuck together like this. I just don’t really recall enough to nitpick at it all.

While I’m being honest, I might as well say I’m actually not terribly into reviewing this movie. It was fun and all, and it had some flaws, but I was neither thrilled nor horrified by it. I liked it fine and I’m not in a frothy fangirl rage over characters not fitting my exact mental images of them or anything. I’m just not bursting to effuse about it either. I’m finding it difficult to muster up enough to put a review together, though that might be due to the 3+ hour running time. Still, I feel I should say something, as I did enjoy it and silence might imply that I didn’t.

First of all, I have absolutely no complaints about the two protagonists. Rincewind as portrayed by David Jason isn’t exactly what I envisioned (I always pictured him as a bit of a beanpole though I couldn’t tell you if that’s canon or not off the top of my head), but his actual acting in the role is fun. He’s a thoroughly reluctant main character and Jason does a swell job with him. I love Sean Astin and he was a ton of fun as Twoflower. He definitely had the whole enthusiastic tourist thing down and I greatly enjoyed his eternal optimism even if there were moments when I couldn’t help but think of Samwise Gamgee. And then on the other side of things there was Tim Curry as Trymon, the antagonist. I think we all know I love Tim Curry by now, and he does love to play a villain. And then in some roles with less screen time were Christopher Lee as the voice of DEATH (awesome), David Bradley as Cohen the Barbarian (super awesome and exactly like I pictured him) and Jeremy Irons as the Patrician. Now, Jeremy Irons? Is perfect as the Patrician. I adored him. He was fantastic. He was everything I wanted. And he had Wuffles.

So yes, the major characters? Well cast and well played. Unfortunately the plot felt meandering at best. I don’t remember thinking that with the books and I didn’t feel that way about Hogfather, though it was comparable in length. I think it likely stems from the melding of two books. It means that all the introduction-to-Discworld stuff has to be worked in alongside the beginnings of the big plot and Twoflower does the tourist thing and sees all sorts of places and there’s the dragons and the druids and they go over the Rim and then they get captured and it feels like it should be a lot more episodic. Instead of having been done in two 1.5+ hour long segments perhaps it should have been in smaller bites. Or done as two distinct pieces. I’m not sure. I wouldn’t want it streamlined as I think it would lose a lot of what makes it so distinctly Pratchett. But it’s just not the way I’d really like it. There’s something missing in terms of dramatic tension and plot cohesion. I had a lot of fun watching it, but something was missing. Not enough to make me dislike it, just enough to make me feel bad about not jumping for joy when there was a lot about it I loved.


January 3, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,


  1. Your review is spot on. Colour of Magic was episodic, unlike all of the later Discworld books, and the lack of an overarching plot showed in the adaptation. The book’s style was an echo (and in some places a direct parody) of Fritz Lieber’s “Swords” books; to my mind, Pratchett only found his legs in Light Fantastic, or possibly Equal Rights.

    Comment by Jeff | January 5, 2011 | Reply

    • It’s been so long since I’ve read the first book I honestly couldn’t remember if it was as episodic as the movie. I’ve never read the Lieber books, but now I’m curious. Maybe I should find time to re-read some early Pratchett and Lieber and see.

      Comment by ajmovies | January 5, 2011 | Reply

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