Review WITHOUT SPOILERS of Amazon Prime Video’s ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’
“We didn’t have a word for death, because we thought our joys would be endless.” This typically dramatic line from the first episode of ‘The Rings of Power’ describes a peaceful time in Middle-earth, ruined by the coming of Sauron, but could just as easily describe franchises like ‘Lord of the Rings’ in general. After the great ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy of films and the unnecessary ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy that followed, the franchise returns once again with what many claim is the most expensive series ever made.
Prime Video has a lot riding on it here. Think of Gollum, except it’s an entire boardroom of investors rubbing their claws together and smacking their lips in ravenous anticipation.
The same could be said for the fans though this new adaptation is not based on a single book by JRR Tolkienso there’s probably also a bit of skepticism and fear at the same time.
Luckily, the early reactions have been overwhelmingly positive and we can repeat them in this review… for the most part. Applying adjectives like “bold” and “ambitious” is fair when it comes to this franchise, and they extend to what we’ve seen of the series thus far..
In just two episodes, the world building is as impressive and intricate as you could hope for. It’s the kind of show that deserves to be seen on the big screen rather than on your phone, but that won’t stop fans from visiting Middle-earth through a six-inch screen. It really is a shame, because director JA Bayona also does a magnificent job of encapsulating the essence of this world.to the point where we don’t miss Peter Jackson at all.
Nevertheless, That’s not to say the series lives up to the original trilogy just yet.. While it may not be fair to make such comparisons up front, we must, because it’s inevitable, whether you’re a fan or not.
The grandeur is there and the visuals are lavish enough, but the overall narrative isn’t quite working yet, and an overloaded cast also affects pacing. However, episode two is already an improvement over the first in that regard once some of those strong introductions are over.
Similar issues with the worldbuilding of the trilogy could be more easily dismissed due to the grandiose nature of those films. Drawing an epic plot for three hours is very different from drawing it for eight, as the prequel does here.
Some charismatic performances help cement the material, including Morfydd Clark and Robert Aramayo, as well as Owain Arthur’s hilarious turn as a dwarf prince. Once more characters have room to breathe in this overcrowded cast, new favorites will no doubt emerge just like they did in the movies. But it’s not just those original franchise movies that ‘Rings of Power’ has been forced to compete with..
With their shared love of dragons and blonde wigs, it’s unfortunate that ‘lord of the rings’ returned at the same time as ‘game of thrones’, and not because one is better or worse than the other. It simply means that ‘House of the Dragon’ and ‘Rings of Power’ will be pitted against each other regardless of their respective first seasons.
Now, when you really analyze them, the two series don’t actually compete at all. Yes, they both occupy the same slow-cooking, epic fantasy space, but ‘The Rings of Power’ leans much more towards building glittering worlds and ancient struggles between Good and Evil. ‘House of the Dragon’, instead, she is more concerned with palace proxy wars and struggles between incest and tradition.
Both are epic, exciting, and surprising in their own way, but with their different take on the fantasy genre, and not to mention the differences in their settings, there’s more than enough room for Middle Earth and Westeros alike. And that’s lucky for us, because none of them will end soon..
It seems then that, with the return of two of the greatest fantasy franchises of all time, “our joys” will remain “endless” for many years to come. Unless
gollums investors get stingy and call them off early to save their precious money.
‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ premieres on Prime Video on September 2, 2022