4 Takeaways from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Evil billionaire, Jeff Bezos, wanted “his Game of Thrones” and spent a billion dollars or whatever on this Lord of the Rings show. So obviously it does seem unethical to watch this show.

Between that dynamic and being a big fan of Peter Jackson’s LOTR film adaptations (but definitely not the Hobbit films) and an admirer of Tolkien in general, it seemed like I was just gonna pass on this show altogether. Life is simply too short.

Alas. I could not help myself.

 

1. The look is not cheap, nor is it full of glaring shortcuts

One of the big things I look for with these big fantasy/sci-fi shows and even movies that are supposed to have an epic scope is to see how cheap the show looks.

Does it look like it’s entirely on green screen?

Does it look it was filmed in a parking lot?

The classic cinematic works in the sci-fi and the fantasy genres need to look like they are in their version of the real world. And so many goddamn shows these days look cheap as fuck.

But not The Rings of Power. You really see the money in this show and know it went to important shit. It is the first thing you notice with the show, and it makes a huge difference. You feel like you’re there in a world and not watching someone’s 1998 screensaver. It’s a good feeling.

 

2. The pacing fluctuates

At the start of the show, they created a mood where it feels like a countdown was on the board, and the characters had to beat the buzzer. It truly felt like the bottom was about to fall out of the characters’ lives and their whole world. And it was great.

But then things slowed down and you could not help but wonder how much better this would have all been if it was just a three hour film instead of an eight hour television show. Alas.

 

3. It is not in the spirit of Tolkien

When you read the Lord of the Rings books, you realize that Tolkien was extremely interested in walking, singing, poetry, food, trees, agriculture, language, hiking, nature, and things like that. He’s much less interested in battles and action and thrilling violence.

While Peter Jackson’s trilogy was truly an adaptation and not a totally faithful tonal translation, Jackson was remarkably able to balance Tolkien’s interests with the interests of epic action filmmaking.

The Rings of Power forgoes the interests of Tolkien almost entirely in favor of thrilling action and violence. If Jackson’s films felt like “hang-out films” at times, this television show is all go-go-go.

 

4. Overall Thoughts

The degree of difficulty with this first season was almost prohibitively high. While the show was far from perfect, it did succeed in just enough ways to be considered successful and fun enough.

The most important thing the show did was cast Morfydd Clark as Galadriel. She absolutely anchored the show and prevented the show from ever drifting into the abyss. It was a rock solid lead performance.

The second most notable aspect of this season is that the show repeatedly walked up to the cliff of getting too caught up with winking at the audience (“Follow your nose”) and being too reverential to what was to happen in the stories the audience already knew. It was most notable when it comes to the Halbrand/Sauron reveal.

The show devotes a lot of resources to building to the twist Sauron has hiding in plain sight all along only to be revealed in the finale. On one hand, it felt kind of unnecessarily trite to make this such a twisty thing. It was at least preferable to the teased Aragon knockoff story that they had teased for Halbrand all season long though.

Overall, this was a fun season of television that I was glad I watched. I wish any show about the world of Tolien was less obsessed with characters we already knew though and instead was trying to build something new.

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