'Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' Review
Author J.R.R. Tolkien's Epic Series Comes Home
The most expensive TV show ever made, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, has a lot of expectations behind it. Amazon (and by extension Jeff Bezos) spent a bundle acquiring the Lord of the Rings license and creating a world that could accurately convey the majesty of Middle-Earth as seen in the acclaimed movie trilogy. Leaving the costs aside a moment, there’s a great desire for more material from the lands of Middle-Earth, and what better way to do that than a lengthy television series? TV continues to blur the lines between traditional television and the theatrical experience anyways and in every sense, The Rings of Power is a really long movie. With some of the best visuals to ever grace a television series and a universe as potent as Lord of the Rings, the new series was surely too big to fail. It might be a little too early to crown it worthy of the legacy of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but these first two episodes leave a promising impression for sure.
Similar to other prequels or sequels, The Rings of Power offers enough of the familiar to make audiences comfortable with the new material. It takes place many centuries before the events that unfolded in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The elf Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) is a character that was played by Cate Blanchett in the films, and in The Rings of Power, she takes center stage as the main protagonist of this story. Although some sort of peace has come to Middle-Earth, Galadriel is certain that the evil entity Sauron continues to live. After her brother perished at the hands of Sauron, Galadriel will not rest until Sauron falls to her blade. Her king wishes that she would put down her blade and retire to a peaceful life.
Although that is not going to be Galadriel’s fate.
Many different races make up this world including dwarfs, harfoots, goblins, and more. One of the harfoots that this story focuses on is Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh). She’s definitely not a hobbit, so don’t get confused, but she does seem to have a bigger role to play in this story than even she realizes like those aforementioned hobbits. There are other familiar names like the elf Elrond (Robert Aramayo) who has a plot line that puts him directly in contact with the dwarfs like Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur). The show literally jumps all over the map (not unlike Game of Thrones), but it does a decent job of keeping audiences centered with whatever story thread is being explored.
The visuals of The Rings of Power exceeded expectations. If there was any thought that the series would skimp on certain aspects, those lingering doubts were certainly squashed. There are frames of this show that are simply stunning, and visiting some locations that the trilogy discussed in passing but never visited is awesome. For instance, one location that the show visits in the second episode are the caves of Khazad-dûm. In the first movie, that location had been destroyed – a shadow of its once brilliant glory. But now, The Rings of Power is able to show just how magnificent it once was.
But I’m sure the question on a lot of people’s minds is simply whether or not The Rings of Power is any good. Even though I’ve only seen a little over two hours, I’m impressed by what I’ve seen. This is a massive budget fantasy show the likes we’ve never seen before, but if you don’t like fantasy I’m not sure that this is going to make you a convert. Furthermore, The Lord of the Rings franchise is also very different from what audiences are used to on Game of Thrones (and by extension House of the Dragon). The Rings of Power is a show with great reach – content that is suitable for teenagers and above. It doesn’t have the same bloodshed, nudity, and violence that has made Game of Thrones a hit. Despite both being fantasy shows, they are absolutely different. Another knock against The Rings of Power is one that all prequel shows in 2022 have faced; we know the fate of some of these characters. By putting the action on characters audiences are familiar with, some of the drama the show wishes to present doesn’t connect.
Ultimately I’m a fan of what Amazon has created with The Rings of Power. Perhaps it was too big to fail, but there needed to be decisions made at every step of the production to make sure it was a success. The visuals exceed what I possibly could’ve expected and I’m interested in Galadriel’s journey even if I ultimately know the part she plays in the history of Middle-Earth. This has the makings to be an epic journey that will please fans of Lord of the Rings, and stun casual admirers. [B]