Ice Fantasy 《幻城》(2016)

The Ice people (冰族) and the Fire people(火族) are bitter rivals and a war between the two deity like clans (神族) is imminent. The future king of the Ice people Ka Suo (卡索) and the prince of the Fire people Xin Jue (忻绝) are the catalyst to the conflict though Ka Suo wishes nothing more than to live in peace. Through dark magic the king of the Fire people sacrifices his own son to lure the Ice kingdom in to a conflict. Based on a book, with the same title, by famous writer/director Guo Jingming the series is an echo of early Hollywood fantasy productions but the superflous design aesthetics of Chinese online games is also very apparent. Unfortunately Ice Fantasy doesn’t offer anything new in this genre instead it’s just a repetition of other Chinese tv-dramas where cuteness (hyper-feminine voices), excessive use of music (especially the melancholic clinking piano) and the absolute dichotomy between good and evil is put to use too much.

Since Ice Fantasy is a series with a total of 62 episodes it might be unfair to judge the series for lacking character development when I’ve only watched two episodes but many of thir character traits are already well established in Chinese fiction. Not only does Ka Suo possess wisdom which enables him to trick the enemy during battle (think Zhuge Liang/诸葛亮 from Romance of the Three Kingdoms) he’s also kind and philosophical. The most annoying of all is Lan Chang (岚裳), princess of the Mermaid people (人鱼族), who’s only function seems to be making moaning-like sounds when in discomfort and to be clumsy and deeply in love with Ka Suo.

As if the bad (intentional or not) directing of actors isnt enough the total lack of multifaceted portrayal of character traits is one of the things that really holds the series down. On a shallow level the evil prince of the Fire people, Xin Jue, can not be mistaken to be anything but the embodiment of evil. His father, the king, might be more evil. The heavy make-up and the act of filicide makes him a strong candidate for most evil person in the series.

Since tv-series became the new cool kid in town music is playing an even more vital role than before. The different melodies for all the Houses in Game of Thrones makes the series more familiar and sometimes the music seems to take over the show as it was its own character (“Breaker of Chains” in ending of season 4 and “Light of the Seven” in the beginning of the last episode in season 6). But, if there’s something that’s being overused in Chinese film and tv-series it is the music. I’m having trouble identifying reoccuring themes in Ice Fantasy and like in so many other productions it seems that the music is only there because they were told to.

Final verdict: Ice Fantasy is most probably not worth your while but I will get back with yet another review when I have finished some more episodes.

Ps. Films which doesn´t use music just for the sake of it and which is good: Red Cliff and Hero.

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