Riese is a princess in the kingdom of Eleysia, believed to be the last surviving member of the royal family after they were cruelly executed by the ambitious and power-hungry Amara, now self-proclaimed Empress. Riese is on the run, accompanied only by her faithful wolf companion, Fenrir. She is pursued by The Sect, the clergy and enforcers of the religious caste of Eleysia, under the direction of Cacilia, the high priestess. There are Heretics, those still loyal to the royal family, fighting a running battle with the forces of the Empress. They hope to find and join forces with Riese and return her to the throne, something which Amara says she will never allow to happen.

*****

Well, this is a genuine oddity and no mistake. A 10-episode series commissioned by the SyFy channel, consisting of a quasi-Middle Earth mythology, with a bit of semi-industrialisation and steampunk thrown in for good measure. Oh and the episodes run to around 6-8 minutes each. Some characters smoke cigarettes, there are semi-modern hospital wards, but then medieval-style attire and clock-work robotic appendages as well.

An inconsistent style and tone is a recurring flaw of this high-aiming but low-attaining series. The series seems unsure as to what it is aiming for, trying to buildmythology, but without comprehensively thought through ideas and themes. The restoration of a broken royal line and a nomadic would-be monarch is of course a plot line of Lord of the Rings, but please do not make the mistake of equating the two projects. Apart from anything else, the budget and resources of Riese (rhymes with “piece”, not “Lisa”) leave it floundering when it comes to trying to put up on screen something coherent, engaging and enduring.

Riese moves from scene to scene, a ridiculously detailed and lengthy voice-over narration explaining every plot point that the disastrously abbreviated running time prevents the script from properly portraying. We regularly see a map of the kingdom, showing which realm the action is due to take place in, but there is no overall sense of connectivity with the geography, no distinctive “feel” for one realm compared to another. There are some interesting ideas here, including kidnapped then feral children, traumatised adolescents and the struggle for power between political and military might and religious loyalty, but none of it is given any real thought, attention or development, the absurdly short episodes giving no time for anything to be fleshed out. The entire season of 10 episodes running through in little over an hour.

You can catch some of the episodes here on the SyFy website, with the promise of more to be posted over Easter. If nothing else they won’t use up too much of your time and you may find something of curiosity value amidst the baffling incomprehensibility of most of what is on show here.

[Rating:1.5/5]

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yXNM9bYPDo’]

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Dave has been writing for HeyUGuys since mid-2010 and has found them to be the most intelligent, friendly, erudite and insightful bunch of film fans you could hope to work with. He's gone from ham-fisted attempts at writing the news to interviewing Lawrence Bender, Renny Harlin and Julian Glover, to writing articles about things he loves that people have actually read. He has fairly broad tastes as far as films are concerned, though given the choice he's likely to go for Con Air over Battleship Potemkin most days. He's pretty sure that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the most overrated mess in cinematic history.