Riese (Nicholas Humphries and Kaleena Kiff, 2010)
A cautionary tale on jumping to conclusions: while I was watching this, I looked it up on IMDB and saw that it was listed as a series that ran ten episodes. Given that, and given the ridiculous amounts of narration herein, I assumed it was ten hour-length television episodes and that this was a Canadian TV series that had been stripped down the feature-film length by Syfy or Chiller (they do that sort of thing now and again, and the results are, well, a lot like this). And I had written about half a review in my head based on that premise until I skimmed the reviews at Netflix—and found out this is actually a web series with eight-minute episodes, and so this is the complete series strung together. In other words, all that awful narration isn’t because they cut anything out, it’s in the original. Good grief.
Plot: Riese (40 Days and 40 Nights‘ Christine Chatelain) is a dethroned princess on the run from The Sect, a religious cult that now rules the kingdom to which she was heir. With only her wolf Fenrir as a companion, she steals through the woods, evading Herrick (30 Days of Night: Dark Days‘ Ben Cotton), a nasty sort bent on her destruction (and decked out in a pretty cool steampunk outfit that’s drawn a lot of attention). Amara (The Pregnancy Project‘s Sharon Taylor) is the kingdom’s current empress (and a distant cousin of Riese’s); her advisor, and closest friend, Trennan (The Cabin in the Woods‘ Patrick Gilmore), is a member of The Sect, but when he discovers that The Sect, and not Riese, is the real threat looming over Amara’s rulership, he finds his loyalties torn…
This could have been good. No, strike that. This could have been great. This might be able to rival Haven as the best fantasy series on television with some better acting (especially from the resistance group Riese finds and allies herself with, all of whom seem to have come out of the same school of overacting). I’m assuming the narration would automatically disappear if you stretched eight-minute webisodes into hour-long TV episodes, but just in case: kill the narration. Please, for the love of brass gears, make it go away. It turns something visually interesting and exceptionally well-plotted into a noxious mess to be endured rather than enjoyed. *