It has been almost 20 years since the the Lord of the Rings the films gave audiences their first taste of fantasy adventure. A lot has changed since then – such movies can now be shot entirely on green screen, and watching a show in a movie theater doesn’t hold up the same way. At a time when everyone seems to be wondering if theaters can survive, Amazon has the perfect answer in the form of its Lord of the Rings web series, The Rings of Power. The first two episodes of the series have been made available as part of this review and let’s start by saying that watching a show on the big screen on your humble home screens doesn’t disappoint at all.
When it was announced, The Rings of Power was projected as the streamer’s answer to HBO’s Game of Thrones, which eventually became the most-watched show in the world, so of course they were inviting comparison. The biggest point of comparison, which has now become a staple in this genre of television, is the gigantic scale of the show. It’s fantastic to watch the cave cities of the “Khazad-dûm” dwarves and the endless sense of the Sundering seas so my humble suggestion would be – watch it on the biggest screen you have and not your phone. A lot of effort (and money) has gone into creating this world that as a casual viewer might feel like a lot to miss. It demands undivided attention and anything less than that could end up making you feel lost.
The Rings of Power takes place during the Second Age and for those who are not very familiar with what it is, know that the timeline here is set thousands of years before the original trilogy. Galadriel and Elrond, who played important roles in the movies, are key characters here. The show is set in various locations and it does a great job of introducing the main characters, their immediate worries, and the big hurdle they face, but like a lot of LOTR content, it can get a bit overwhelming with its lingo. The Rings of Power understands that not everyone may know the source material, so it tries to give you short lessons while introducing the different worlds. However, despite this, you might feel a bit overwhelmed at times, especially if you have no knowledge of books or movies.
Minus the jargon, the plot is as simple as it gets. The threat of the enemy “Sauron” looms over the people, and Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel (played by Cate Blanchett in the films) has sworn to put an end to it. The rings that caused the endless battles in the original trilogy have yet to be forged, and the various creatures inhabiting Middle-earth are not yet at war with each other. Times are calm but not for long.
The show gives a different personality to each of its universes. The Harfoots are the humble of the land, and the elves are the saviors with a bit of a superiority complex; dwarves are aware of their powers and humans are just wary. Most of the characters are introduced in duets, which also gives them the opportunity to play with humor, love, and pathos.
The show’s cast continued to expand for the first two episodes, and it seems other characters have yet to be a part of that world. The performances are impressive, but as happens on these shows, one often gets emotionally invested in a duo’s relationship and after that point it’s all about their chemistry. So far, Nazanin Boniadi’s Bronwyn and Ismael Cruz Cordova’s Arondir have been successful in this game.
The Rings of Power knows that a large part of its audience is made up of loyal fans who are familiar with the appendixes of the LOTR books, which are the basis of this show. This part of the audience has watched each movie multiple times and can teach you a lesson or two in Elvish. But, it remains to be seen if they can get the rest of the world on board, especially since the GoT franchise is in direct competition with it this time around. And there’s a lot of money and higher stakes at stake.