The Rings of Power review: what wonderfully succeeded, and what didn’t, with the most expensive series of all time
ORIGINAL TITLE: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. GENDER: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy. COUNTRY: United States. REGIA: J.D. Payne, Patrick McKay. CAST: Morfydd Clark, Markella Kavenagh, Robert Aramayo, Ishmael Cruz Cordova, Nazanin Boniadi, Owain Arthur, Daniel Weyman, Charlie Vickers, Joseph Mawle. DURATION: 8 episodes of about 70 minutes. DISTRIBUTION: Prime Video. EXIT: September 2, 2022.
A golden age for fantasy fans has just ended. In fact, between September and October, two of the most anticipated series of the year battled it out: House of the Dragon (here our review) e The Rings of Power. It is precisely to the latter that we want to dedicate this article, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of one of the most expensive serial products in history (715 million dollars).
Plot of The Rings of Power
After the epic trilogy de The Lord of the Rings by Peter Jackson, the series The Rings of Power takes the audience back to Middle-earth, this time thousands of years before the feats of the Fellowship of the Ring, more precisely in the Second Age. It is a choral story, which involves the different peoples who inhabit this fantastic territory. From the depths of the mines of the dwarves, to the majestic woods of the elves, historical characters will join other totally new, to tell us the events that led to the return of Sauron, the birth of Mordor and the forging of the Rings.
The question of canonicity | The Rings of Power Review
The series had managed to make itself heard well before its airing, due to the controversy arose over the choice of actors which, according to the most ardent fans, had little to do with the “canonicity” of Tolkien’s writings. Canonicity that was already very difficult to respect from the outset, given theimpossibility for the production company to be able to create episodes that are 100% faithful to the books, due to the lack of rights to them. Having available only material related to the appendices of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, it was clear that something necessarily had to be changed or invented from scratch. Already from these premises, one thing was clear: Tolkien’s “purists” would never have accepted the series, and so it was.
The question has sparked real debates, often very heated and violent, since the release of the trailer. Certainly seeing elves with shaved hair may seem a little strange, but given the beauty of the first images, this series still had to be given a chance.
An aesthetic that hits the spot | The Rings of Power Review
From the elven woods, to the mines of the dwarves, to the mighty cities of men, the viewer’s gaze is lost in gazing breathtaking sceneries, made with a care never seen before. The high budget available can be seen, especially in the first two episodes, where each frame is a small work of art. Incredible landscapes invite the viewer to pause in order to better enjoy all the meticulous details present.
Even the costumes, in most cases are well done. Rich in details that the camera manages to enhance, they make everything more realistic and immersive. Also the trick is well managedfar from that massive use of CGI that had attracted a lot of criticism to Lo Hobbit. Too bad only for that little missing detail, which everyone was waiting for: the beard of the dwarfs!
The only sore point in this case, they turn out to be i rallentyperhaps used to give epicness to the moment, instead end up detaching the audience’s immersion, causing the opposite effect.
Do orcs have hearts? | The Rings of Power Review
One of the most appreciable aspects of this series is certainly theopening a new perspective with which to see the ogres. In The Rings of Power they are no longer just a simple tool of evil, as happened in The Lord of the Rings; but beings who, in their own way, are also capable of feeling affection, suffering from their condition and that of their companions. This aspect could broaden the vision of this world, unhinging the simple good/evil dichotomy which instead characterized Tolkien’s past works but which to date are a bit outdated.
A poor three-dimensionality | The Rings of Power Review
The Rings of Power is presented as a choral series, where many already known characters are joined by others, totally new. Except in a few cases, however, they result poorly characterized, without deep or well-defined conflicts. They move driven by events, without being able to find the right depth to allow the viewer to become attached really to someone. For such a wide-ranging story, the risk of this happening was just around the corner.
Dialogues often don’t helpindeed they help to leave that aura of detachment on the characters, without ever making them emotionally interesting. So here we get to make them pronounce extremely trivial sentences, so much so that they are remembered for the strangeness that is perceived in hearing them; one above all the now iconic “I’m good”.
Girl Power Failed | The Rings of Power Review
The excessive superficiality of the characters brings with it another theme that perhaps has not been treated in the best way: the role of women. This series, unlike The Lord of the Rings, is characterized by a strong presence of female characters who could have given a different meaning to female power, compared to what was actually staged.
The Rings of Power wanted to show women who, albeit in different circumstances, find themselves in roles of power. They command entire villages, prepare men for war and are themselves the first to take to the battlefield. It would all be very interesting if it weren’t for that no real reason why they are in such a high position is ever given to the public. Some of them don’t have the right charisma and make inappropriate choices, while others find themselves commanding battalions out of nowhere, when shortly before they had a completely different role. All of this conveys a feeling of superficiality in character writing. This problem is also reflected in other plot points, where some issues are resolved hastily and often illogically.
Galadriel from Lord of the Rings VS Galadriel from The Rings of Power
Last, but certainly not least is the role of one of the protagonists of The Rings of Power: Galadriel. This is probably the real sore point of the series, which often struggles to stand up in some scenes precisely because of the representation of this character.
The Galatriel of the series, played by Morfydd Clark has very little to do with the image consolidated over the years of the character present in Tolkien’s writings and in Peter Jackson’s trilogy. In fact, the Galadriel of the film, masterfully interpreted by Cate Blanchett, is imposing, golden, with a regal bearing, a calm but at the same time powerful figure. The Galadriel represented in the series is totally another character: impetuous, stubborn, disrespectful and arrogant, far from those characteristics that have always characterized an elf.
This type of character writing brings with it problems of a certain relevance: first of all the empathy. The characteristics that build the new character lead the viewer to detach from her because she is too convinced of herself; to the point of even embracing opposing ideals, even if they are wrong. We are not sure if this was intended by the creators.
The future of Rings of Power
At the end of this first season, it can be said that these first 8 episodes shine in some respects, but turn up their noses in others. Of course this was only one long introduction, which will come alive only with the next few seasons (if they would like to make at least 5) but which will not arrive before 2024. Will this series be able to solve its problems and carry on that highly sought-after aesthetic that has characterized it since the first episodes? See you in the next episodes for the arduous sentence.
Structure to be reviewed, in an excellent aesthetic
- Well done environments
- Detailed makeup and costumes
- New perspective on the orc world
- Detachment from Tolkien’s works
- Little three-dimensional characters
- Unsympathetic protagonist
- Illogical plot solutions
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