Freelancers is a fantasy much lighter in tone than many contemporaries like Game of Thrones.
The web series is set in a world of magic, mages, rogues and sword-wielding heroes. However, there aren't any ominous prophecies, evil overlords, or grand quests for powerful, world-saving relics.
Our heroes are just seeking to earn a living and survive.
Freelancers, as conceived by writer/director Ignatius Fischer, is an attempt to recapture the sense of wonder and adventure most modern fantasies eschew for grittier, darker atmospheres.
It succeeds for the most part, but there are weaknesses in the narrative which threaten to derail the overarching plot if not addressed.
In the first episode were are introduced to the three main characters by being plunged immediately into the action.
The script skillfully reveals their relationship without heavy handed narration or lengthy expository soliloquies.
During a surprisingly well-choreographed opening fight sequence, we are introduced to:
- Nick the Bold (portrayed by Nicholas Givanio) A skilled warrior whose buoyant personality belies a brutal streak in battle.
- Caitlin Marcks (portrayed by Caitlin Geier) Cunning thief. Skilled fighter. Obstinate schemer. She has stolen something from a very powerful group of people who desperately want it back.
- Ivan Strang (portrayed by Ivan Borntrager) What happens when a wizard becomes a stoner? Ivan. Though he wields formidable mystic energies, his preoccupation with mind-altering substances has him under a mightier spell.
The acting is strong, with the standout being Caitlin Geier. Her layered performance stretches her character past the "spunky heroine" archetype.
Ivan Borntrager's addled wizard provides levity, though his performance often dangerously approaches unfunny buffoonery.
Rounding out the lead cast, Nicholas Givanio gives a convincing performance as a warrior who possesses a perplexing mix of happy-go-lucky charm and ferocity.
Other hallmarks of the project are the lush locales, pristine cinematography, well-crafted costumes, vivid visual effects, excellent fight choreography, and gorgeous musical score.
Still, Freelancers falters a bit in its plot development.
In the second and third episodes, numerous new characters are dropped onto the canvas in a very haphazard fashion, with many seemingly having no direct relation to the main story arc. This can be disorienting to viewers, who may turn away before the disparate plot threads are merged.
The editing does provide a sense of urgency and forward movement, but it just as often appears very disjointed and jarring. These issues with editing and narrative flow can distract from an otherwise well constructed series mythology.
I have high hopes for series, because like its creator, I also yearn for more of the "fantastic" in my fantasy. The genre needs more rip-roaring tales with less somber tones.
You can watch the series, and learn more about the production on the official web site WatchFreelancers.com
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