One of the benefits of having extremely low expectations for a series or movie is that you might be pleasantly surprised. And yes, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (or simply The Rings of Power) is not the epic failure that Middle Earth fans were worried about.
But it’s certainly not an adaptation that die-hard fans will welcome with open arms. At least not based on the two episodes that have come out so far.
Because while The Rings of Power has the potential to be a decent, if not good series, it’s the part with the adaptation of the work of J. RR Tolkien is what makes him limp.
Let’s start with the good sides. I’ll probably be the next person to point out the quality of this Amazon Studios production – purely visually, it’s a beautiful show to look at.
It’s full of beauty and it’s clear that nothing has been spared – neither the sets, nor the costumes, nor the extra touches in the dark rooms, where ordinary shots are then transformed into magic with the help of visual effects.
If it was just about the visual aspect of this series, the rating would be 10 out of 10.
What we get as viewers really transports us into a magical world. There is an attempt to convey the feel of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, but without literally copying the visual scheme – the show has its own stamp.
The elven art looks really beautiful – whether it’s armor, swords and daggers, or just buildings and sculptures – the designers here have done really, really well.
The acting is also up to par. The cast is mostly unknown to the general public, but the actors do a good job with the roles they are given – you can believe them to be the characters they are playing, you can feel the motivation that drives them and makes them do what they do. they do.
Morfid Clarke and Roberto Armaio, who play Galadriel and Elrond, perhaps the two main characters to date, definitely get into their roles – as the writers wrote them, and have a solid presence to make you sympathize with them. even when their characters do stupid things.
Markella Cavena as Eleanor Brandyfoot, the curious proto-hobbit girl who wants to see more of the world, also makes a very good impression.
The scale of the production is also something to note here. For over $460 billion, this show really deserves some big thinking – the first two episodes are mostly world building – trying to rebuild after the great war with the arch-villain Morgoth, the seeming extinction of evil, and how the elven lords try to restore order and to “administer” the world again.
Also yet to be seen is Numenor, the island nation that dominates human culture at the time, and where some of the more interesting stuff in The Rings of Power should actually take place (if the show’s creators decided to follow the real events at least a little, described by Tolkien).
There are also interesting moments in the action itself. Since it’s an adaptation of fairly conventional source material – the Lord of the Rings appendices telling of the Fall of Númenor, it leaves a lot of holes to fill in where the writers can tell their own stories.
There must also be mysterious characters that even the biggest Tolkien fans have no idea who they are.
Obviously, they decided to insert a little mystery there to keep those viewers who have read Tolkien’s work cover to cover under tension. Mysterious figures, strange and inexplicable events that portend bad omens…
All this speaks to the potential for a good series. Are there things on it that need to be improved – yes, especially when it comes to the dialogues. The action itself will probably settle into a rhythm at some point instead of swinging from hellishly slow to frenetic action. But these are only minor flaws.
If you’ve only seen the Peter Jackson movies or only read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit without being obsessed with the history of Middle Earth, you’ll likely enjoy the series as a series. He’s not bad, he could even pass for good if his story pans out.
The problem, as with many other adaptations, comes mostly in this part – the show wants to do its own thing and ignores key things from the source material.
I’m not even talking about the black elves and dwarven princesses here, or the fact that the elven smith Celebrimbor, grandson of Fëanor, instead of being an eternally young elf (as elves are supposed to be), is played by an actor over 50 who is it looks old despite all the makeup artists’ attempts.
Fun fact – Celebrimbor is sort of Galadriel’s nephew, although he looks like he could be her grandfather.
Celebrimbor and Galadriel – nephew and aunt
Casting is the slight problem with this show. The big one is the way his characters are presented, because they just don’t live up to the idea that Tolkien put into them.
Take for example Galadriel, the main protagonist in the series, where she is presented as a warrior princess obsessed with the idea of taking revenge on Sauron for the death of her brother Finrod (her other brothers, also possessed by evil, were eaten by dogs…).
So she becomes a mighty warrior, commander of the northern armies of the high elven king Gil-galad, and devotes her life to investigating where Sauron actually hid, becoming so obsessed with the subject that even her loyal soldiers dispute the orders she gives .
This elven princess is presented as a young and crazy hot-blooded head, ready to do anything for revenge. This has absolutely nothing to do with Tolkien’s Galadriel, who at that time led the elves from Doriath with her husband to create the kingdom of Lot-Lórien, where we see them in The Lord of the Rings.
In the original book, Galadriel, the daughter of the youngest of the three sons of the Noldor high king Finwe – Finrafin, has already matured in Valinor, where she is known for her fiery spirit, but also for the ability to keep her composure. Along with her brothers, she travels to Middle-earth to avenge the theft of the Silmarils, where she is one of the prominent leaders of the Noldor alongside her brothers, but without being a warrior or fighting.
On the contrary, she is a leader, a politician, a sorceress who learned from none other than the mayar* Melian, from whom she learns how to rule and how to direct forces and resources so that a ruler can keep his subjects.
Instead, in The Rings of Power we see Galadriel as a small, angry and naughty girl who has to stand with her head bowed before the older and recumbent High King Gil-Galad (who is actually her nephew). Never mind that in the original story at that time Galadriel should be one of the few remaining leaders of the Noldor and Elves in general.
It’s a fact that strong female characters boldly taking on male roles, kicking ass and fighting men five times their size are being quoted in Hollywood right now, but is it necessary in this case? Or did Amazon Studios decide that a confident, strong and powerful woman acting as a politician and diplomat wasn’t cool enough, so they had to rewrite her story and put a sword and dagger in her hands?
So in the series we don’t get an adapted version of Princess and then Queen Galadriel, but a completely new and entirely fictional character who has nothing in common with the original except in name.
If it makes sense at all to have such a character, devoted with all his might to seeking out evil and Sauron with the intention of proving himself a competent leader, it would be Elrond, the young prince of the Elves, in whom the blood of all Elves and of the most -the strong human tribes. He is the one who should be eager to prove himself as a skilled warrior and leader.
Let us not forget that in that battle against Sauron in which the Second Age ended, Elrond was at the front lines of the battle as one of the leading generals of Gil-galad.
Prince Elrdon looks most of the time as if he is allergic to swords and more severe physical trials.
Instead, in The Rings of Power we see him as an ambitious young politician who doesn’t touch swords and relies on a sharp mind and natural wisdom (generally what Galadriel should be).
Gil-Galad himself, portrayed as an extremely wise ruler, is presented almost as a superficial and too proud ruler who ignores the discoveries of his young subordinate (actually his aunt – b.a.) about the nascent evil.
Of course, we’ve yet to see more of these characters, but this looms as the main problem with The Rings of Power – it just uses some familiar names instead of the characters behind them. And with that, the meaning of adaptation is lost.
Another problem is the story itself – it has been clear for months that due to the specificity of the material on which this adaptation is made, about 2000 years will be condensed into one linear action. This very difficult thing could not end in a mess.
On the one hand, the Rings of Power are yet to be forged, and on the other, there are characters involved who only appear at the end of Númenor’s glory and who have a key role in the downfall of that kingdom. At the same time, the plot itself takes us to a moment that should take place about a century after the fall of Morgoth.
It’s not impossible to pull off something like that and create a meaningful story out of the amalgamation of an entire era, but the likelihood of screwing things up is very, very high.
It’s just that some things in this show, including the romantic relationship between an elf and a human, seem self-serving. It is this moment of self-centeredness that will be the other thing that will irritate fans. There are elements – certain stories and characters that just sit like a patch on the show, and because of those things the show’s ratings will go down.
Everything described so far achieves one general effect – it makes you watch a series that may be interesting enough, but for all its efforts it does not create a feeling of Middle Earth and the stories of Tolkien.
Yes, the characters speak as they should, there are elves and dwarves, familiar names are used, but it just lacks something to make you enjoy it as a fan. It is because of this thing that the magic is lost. At least that’s how it works for me.
In conclusion, we can say that The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is off to a good start and could become a success for Amazon Prime as a series, but the company should not be surprised when it rains angry comments from Tolkien fans. Just because you’ve made a decent series doesn’t mean you’ve made an adaptation that will satisfy those who have been waiting for it the most.
* Mayari – semi-divine creatures with great magical powers who arrived in Middle-earth along with the greater deities the Valar. Sauron is one of the most powerful majar, Gandalf is also a majar.