The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Series) Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Series) Review 2
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Series) Review
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
Creator(s): Patrick McKay, John D. Payne
Actor(s): Morfydd Clark, Nazanin Boniadi, Peter Mullan
Studio: Prime Video
Premiere Date: 09/02/2022
CGM Editors Choice

The first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are out on September 1, and Prime Video gave us an exclusive first look on the big screen, and I’m happy to report that they are nothing short of an incredible feat. This show will likely help usher in an all-new fan base for The Lord of the Rings and create an upsell in past J.R.R. Tolkien’s work.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power takes place during the Second Age in Tolkien’s famous works. Tolkien was known to be a meticulous world builder, so there are plenty of small details and plot points laid out by him in the show.

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Okay, now stay with me as it’s a tad complicated. The Second Age was the time of Arda (also known as Earth) that began after the climactic banishment of Morgoth into the void by the Lords of the West. This all takes place thousands of years before the The Lord of the Rings. The second age ends with the defeat of Sauron (You’re probably familiar with him as a fiery glowing eye in the sky, where he is a human here) and his army by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, a century after the Downfall of Numenor.

At this point, your eyes have probably glazed over, and you have no idea what I’m rambling on about. And that’s okay. The beauty of The Second Age is that there’s very little information about it. Tolkien wrote plenty about the First Age in books like The Silmarillion, The Children of Hurn, and Unfinished Tales. Not be confused with his most famous books, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, which take place in the Third Age. Everything in between is a bit more mysterious, making the new show exciting. There’s such a sense of unknown and wonderment.

“Yes, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is a prequel for those who have only seen the films.”

Lead writers Patrick McKay and D. Payne have taken Tolkien’s notes and used them to create an all-new story within this time frame of Middle-Earth. They are using a mix of new and old characters with the idea of creating The Lord of the Rings for a whole new generation.

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Yes, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is a prequel for those who have only seen the films. For the rest of us, it’s a lot more detail-oriented. I recommend picking up some of the books mentioned above because they are fantastic (a yes, a tad wordy) and will help flesh out the world a bit more.

One thing that will either work for this show or not is that it doesn’t hold your hand. It throws a lot of lore at you right off the bat without explaining much. This might alienate viewers, or they might gloss it over. To enjoy the show, you don’t need to know all the nitty-gritty details. It could coast by on its looks alone.

When talking with the show’s cast at a press junket in LA a few weeks ago, many of them mentioned they had read The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit before filming, but The Silmarillion was the one that always made them fall asleep. I felt the same way when I was in my early teens, but reading it back last year; I fell in love with it.

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There’s so much profound nerdy lore that filled me with glee, and it is one of Tolkien’s best books for fleshing out the world of Middle-Earth. Benjamin Walker, who plays High King Gil-galad, sounded like the most well-versed in the Tolkien legendarium from our conversations. He compares reading The Silmarillion to reading the Old Testament. Robert Aramayo, who plays Elrond, hinted at definitely re-reading Akallabeth, which is the fourth part of The Silmarillion, which is mainly about the downfall of Numenor.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is still very much in its early days, but I can tell you I’m all the way in.”

There are bits of pieces of info that I’m sure the show will eventually show, such as the emergence of the Ringwraiths and the early wars of the Rings between Sauron and the Elves (the first two episodes slowly seem to be setting this up). The Second Age is also the period in which the One Ring came into existence, arguably an essential part. The Ring was created as a way to manipulate the leaders of Men, Dwarves and Elves, who received magical rings as gifts. The One Ring, aka Sauron’s Ring, was made to break the people of Middle-Earth after the great war in the First Age against his old mentor, Morgoth.

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After watching two episodes, it’s tough for me to judge how the series will go. The show is sprinkling in little bits and pieces, but with such a massive ensemble cast and multiple storylines, the few hours I’ve seen hardly scratch the surface of what this show is to become. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is still very much in its early days, but I can tell you I’m all the way in.

This is on a scale with the movies in every way, and if you can, I’d suggest watching this on the most giant screen you can find. Peter Jackson’s influence is all over the first two episodes. The cinematography is breathtaking, and the world is unlike anything we have ever seen. It’s stunning and feels like an honest adaptation of Tolkien’s work.

I can’t wait for more people to watch these episodes, as the showrunners have set up a big mystery here. I’m curious to see who people think a mysterious character called “The Stranger” is set out to be. Within 45 minutes, I assumed he were three different people, everyone from Gandalf to Sauron, or maybe he’s an all-new character (though unlikely). Only time will tell, and this doesn’t seem to be a story that will move too fast. Thus far, the show has been a slow burn. With five seasons already confirmed, there is no rush to the finish line.

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The Stranger will surely be a hot-button topic on social media as we learn more about this mysterious figure. It’s unlikely he is playing Gandalf as the four wizards of Middle-Earth aren’t set to arrive until The Third Age. In terms of casting, there’s a lot to love. Both Owain Arthur and Sophia Nomvette are the highlights for me, who play Dwarf lovers. We saw Khazad-dum in The Lord of the Rings movies, empty and full of cobwebs, but in The Rings of Power, they are alive and bustling, making for one of the best scenes in the first two episodes. Give me a show just of the dwarves.

We also see a much younger Galadriel played brilliantly by Morfydd Clark (Cate Blanchett played her in the movies). She’s much more impulsive and a full-on warrior when we meet her. If you’re wondering how the same character is in both, with this being set thousands of years apart, Elves never die; they age at a prolonged rate.

About 5-6 different plotlines are moving forth within the first two episodes, and the teaser trailer at the end shows even more that look like they are about to start. All this should lead to a pretty dark conclusion years from now. If you want to guess how it ends, maybe now is a good time to re-watch The Lord of the Rings.

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Outside of Sauron and Galadriel, the only other character familiar to fans of the movies will be Elrond, another elf played by Robert Aramayo (Hugo Weaving in the LOTR movies). The first episode introduces us to a new race called the Harfoots. They are reminiscent of Hobbits, but the Hobbits do not yet exist, and their ancestors have not yet found The Shire.

The Harfoots have many similarities to the Hobbits and are currently being used for a bit of comedic relief. A few of them look like they are set up to play a pivotal role moving forward, including Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards) and Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenagh), who are electric together on screen.

“I think movie fans and longtime fans of the franchise are in for something unique.”

I don’t want to ruin any surprises or fun in the first two episodes. I went in as a massive fan of the series and left with an enormous smile on my face. I have loved what I’ve seen so far. I enjoyed the episodes even more on my second viewing. It’s a remarkable show so far that feels like a genuinely faithful adaption of the Tolkien/The Lord of the Rings legendarium.

The stakes feel high, and the world is breathtaking. Including real sets instead of CGI helps the world believably come to life. One thing that stood out to me is how much it encourages viewers to seek supplemental material to immerse themselves in the world more. I guess, on the one hand, Prime Video wants to sell more books via Amazon, but on the other, the books are epics in their own right. If you find the books a bit dry to read, check out the Audible versions; they are fantastic.

I think movie fans and longtime fans of the franchise are in for something unique. This is a show like no other, and it’s clear that all that money went to good use. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is the year’s biggest show by far, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes. I’ll rarely watch the same TV episode more than twice (unless it’s The Office), but I’ll be watching the first two episodes again with everyone else this week.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will officially launch on Prime Video on Thursday, September 1 at 6 PM PT / 9 PM ET.

You’re going to want to mark these dates in your calendar

  • The Rings of Power episode 1 – Thursday, September 1 / Friday, September 2
  • The Rings of Power episode 2 – Thursday, September 1 / Friday, September 2
  • The Rings of Power episode 3 – Friday, September 9
  • The Rings of Power episode 4 – Friday, September 16
  • The Rings of Power episode 5 – Friday, September 23
  • The Rings of Power episode 6 – Friday, September 30
  • The Rings of Power episode 7 – Friday, October 7
  • The Rings of Power episode 8 – Friday, October 14

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE

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