The Colour Of Magic (2-disc edition) [2008]

Actors: David Jason
2 (UK, Europe, Japan, South Africa and Middle East)
Number of discs:
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date:
3 Nov 2008
Run Time:
184 minutes



Comedic author Terry Pratchett is often described as the Douglas Adams of the Fantasy world. Douglas Adams-lite would however be a more accurate description . . .

Unlike his science fiction counterpart, the prolific Pratchett - 36 Discworld novels have been published thus far! - never reaches the dizzying heights of the Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, eschewing the over-the-top Monty Python-inspired metaphysic speculation of Adams in favor of a more gentle ribbing of the fantasy genre and its many conventions.

As inventive and clever as they are, Pratchett's books are good for the occasional giggle, but they will never have you clutching your sides out of hysterical laughter. It is somehow all too measured and, well, British for that.

The same can also be said of this mini-series made for British television. It may be good for the occasional chuckle, but is never as consistently funny as one might have hoped. Part of the problem however lies with the series itself and not Pratchett's source novels as the editing and comic timing seems a bit off at times.

The scale of the sets and special effects may not match those of big screen efforts such as Stardust, but aren't bad as far as TV productions go. Gone are the days when it feels as if you're watching a pantomime by your local neighborhood amateur theater group when it comes to literary adaptations bearing the dreaded made-for-British-TV label. (The BBC production of Chronicles of Narnia is a good example of this, so - come to think of it - is the original TV version of Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

On the plus side, it is always a joy to see actors such as Tim Curry (here at his grinning campy best) in action. The rest of the cast also include such noted British thesps such as Christopher Lee and Jeremy Irons (both criminally underutilized alas).

THE DISCS: The Colour of Magic's two episodes are actually two full-length 90 minute long movies when one thinks about it. The first episode chronicles The Colour of Magic, Pratchett's first Discworld novel. Episode two is an adaptation of the 1986 sequel, The Light Fantastic, which is any case a direct continuation of the previous book. It is most likely preferable not to take it all in in one three-hour sitting.

Both episodes are contained on the first disc while all the special features are on the second disc. We must be getting old, but we found the selections on the menus to be on the somewhat eligible side - the text is too small and the font too fancy.

The short featurettes dealing with Pratchett's Discworld are on the unfunny and dull side. We can only imagine the most dedicated Pratchett fan actually sitting through them, and if you purchase the single disc version you won't be missing much to be honest.

WORTH IT? If you're new to Pratchett's Discworld universe, but too lazy to bother with actually reading the books themselves, then this adaptation of The Colour of Magic being the first book in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is a good place to start. It is a decent introduction to Pratchett's fantasy flat world borne aloft on the backs of four giant elephants, which in turn are standing on the back of a giant turtle floating through space. (A major issue that concerns the theologians of Discworld is "what is the sex of the turtle?") The storyline involves the Discworld's first tourist (played by Sean Aston of Lord of the Rings) and a useless wizard named Rincewind acting as his hapless tour guide.

RECOMMENDATION: Pratchett's legions of dedicated (and slightly cultish) fans may fume that the books are better. They will be right too, but there are worse ways to waste three hours of your life than checking out The Colour of Magic.



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