Review Prime Video Series ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’

Doesn’t match the quality of a certain trilogy, but is enough to get you under the spell of the ring again.

Direction: Wayne Yip, JA Bayona, Charlotte Brändström | Cast: Morfydd Clark (Galadriel), Robert Aramayo (Elrond), Ismael Cruz Cordova (Arondir), Nazanin Boniadi (Bronwyn), Markella Kavenagh (Nori Brandyfoot), ao | Number of episodes: 8 | Playing time: 65-72 minutes | Year: 2022

“One TV series to rule them all!” Jeff Bezos must have thought as he threw an unimaginable heap of money on the table. With reportedly almost half a billion dollars you come a long way, but they are big footsteps in which the series has to follow. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power takes place thousands of years before the famous film trilogy and because a lot less has been written about this time, a little more personal interpretation is required. So Tolkien fanatics around the world held their breath. Will this be an epic journey or a one-way ticket to Mount Doom?

The story follows Galadriel, who fought in the great war between the elves and the armies of Morgoth. The battle was won, but not without losses; among the many who died was Galadriel’s brother Finrod. Filled with resentment, Galadriel is convinced that Sauron, Morgoth’s henchman, has survived. When even her most loyal companions have given up after countless years of searching, she continues to search for evil to defeat it once and for all.

The series starts off very strong right away. The gripping story is well set up with a clear plot explanation. It is also immediately clear that the makers have a lot of love for the franchise. The series breathes The Lord of the Ringsbut still gets its own face by showing other varieties and taking some liberties here and there with the source material.

Unfortunately, the series goes wrong later, when some storylines and texts seem to have been taken directly from the movies. Another problem that comes into play is that an overarching storyline is missing. Very little is done with the strong design and at times it feels a bit directionless. The multiplicity of storylines does not help this and a clearer focus would have been desirable.

The world, on the other hand, is beautiful. The high budget makes this a series like never before, with each episode looking like the most expensive blockbuster. However, it is not only the production value, but also the design of everything on display. Every location and every object is made with a lot of detail and love, so that everything gets its own signature. Each magical race has a unique feel and character. The only downside is that sometimes things are a little too clean and tidy.

What this supports is the use of practical effects for many elements, such as the orcs. So no more video game orcs like in The Hobbit, but creepy, dirty orcs that are all nightmare material. A big exception to this are the wargs, with which something did not go quite right in the execution. At the other end of the spectrum are the souped-up hobbits. These Harfoots contain a large portion of charm and quirkiness, which contrasts nicely with the more serious sides of the series. Unfortunately, this loose storyline never quite gets off the ground, except in the final episode.

The characters have a strong on-screen presence. Galadriel is a bit harder, full of resentment, but also wise and inspiring. The connection between Elrond and Durin is strong and makes for several highlights. Every scene between the two is full of playfulness. It is also very nice to see the dwarfs shine in full uniform.

For purists, however, there will be many dislikes. We can leave out the skin colors of certain characters, because they don’t disturb at all, but what does irritate at times is the degree of freedom that is taken with the story and the world. There are interventions that have quite a lot of impact and some performed characters simply cannot exist at this time. At times, this makes the series come across as a fan version of JRR Tolkien’s world. A little more can be expected from a production of this size.

Unfortunately, the entire first season feels mostly like an introduction to Middle-earth. There are certainly very impressive moments in iconic places, but the story has just too many inconsistencies and lacks momentum. The best moments are accompanied by beautiful music that honors Howard Shore.

Although the story is still in the starting blocks after eight episodes, it’s great to be back in Tolkien’s world again. The characters are strong, the world is beautiful, the music feels like coming home and each episode offers the experience of a cinema movie. This first trip leaves you wanting more. The season finale is all it takes to get mesmerized by the ring again.

★★★★ ren

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power can be seen on Amazon Prime.

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