The first reviews for the new series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”), the work of publications across the Ocean, are now online, but they still cannot give a clear answer to the question:
Is the most expensive TV production in history a success or a failure?
Rotten Tomatoes, which collects the opinions of critics, shows an average score of 84% out of 100 from reviews by 136 people. A solid score, enough to pique the curiosity of any viewer, even if they’re not a fan of writer J.R.R. Tolkien.
Yet reviews come across that seem to confirm the worst fears of anyone who loves Middle-earth. But let’s start with the good…
Unanimity is met for one thing – The Rings of Power obviously looks impressive. In several places, viewers of the series have noted how the production – with its impressive sets in various locations around Middle Earth – seems better suited for viewing on the big screen, when in fact it is destined to be seen on the small one (in the US there were screenings on the big screen ).
“It’s so cinematic and grandiose that it makes ‘Dragon Home’ look like it was put together in [играта] Minecraft,” says the Guardian’s review, where the first two episodes are rated 4 out of a maximum of 5 stars.
Such praise is found almost everywhere – the production budget, amounting to at least $462 million for the first season alone, has been put to good use, at least as far as the visual part is concerned.
Rather, the deliberately sought-after visual (and, according to some, script, as far as the atmosphere) connection with the trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” (2001-2003) of the director Peter Jackson is indicated as a plus.
It should be noted here that the two productions have nothing in common and are the work of different companies. The Rings of Power is based on the sequels to the novel “The Lord of the Rings” and tells about an earlier period in the history of Middle-earth, without being an on-screen prequel to Jackson’s films.
However, several reviewers noted that references to the visual feel of the trilogy seemed to be deliberately sought, from the use of Middle-earth map shots, to the similar costume design, to moments referencing The Fellowship of the Ring.
“The whole thing is a dramatic story, aimed at adults and taken seriously, but without any ‘adult content’ (ed. graphic violence or sex) thrown in just for the sake of it, and is suitable for younger teens and family viewing,” wrote Den of Geek to distinguish this fantasy from the recently launched prequel to Game of Thrones – “Home of the Dragon”, where violence and naked flesh abound.
So far so good – The Rings of Power is clearly beautiful, reminiscent of Jackson’s films and not trying to be a light version of Home of the Dragon.
The review in Variety was particularly laudatory, calling the series a “perfectly successful adaptation” that felt “a clear reverence and affection for the myths” on which it was based. At the same time, the publication leaves a loophole, indicating that it remains to be seen where the series will go in the next episodes.
The BBC review stated that screenwriters JD Payne and Patrick McKay may not have any previous experience, but they show an understanding of Tolkien’s style, especially when it comes to the characters’ speaking.
“Based on the first two episodes, the signs are promising – but perhaps not promising enough when expectations are so high,” reads the review, which is rated 4 out of 5 stars.
And now the moderate criticism begins.
Articles about the series often note problems with the pacing – that the action either races at breakneck speed in action scenes, or is excruciatingly slow during a conversation or a meaningful look.
Polygon points out that while the series picks up several storylines, their entertainment value varies greatly. Collider notes that there is “enough” in The Rings of Power to keep audiences entertained.
The creators of the series have already commented that events that in the book original take place over thousands of years are here compressed within a single human life so that they can be told together.
Add to that the fact that this is an adaptation not of an entire novel, but of the Lord of the Rings book appendices, which means that the writers had to fill in a lot of gaps with events, characters and dialogue.
The bottom line in some of the reviews is that if you’re a fan of Tolkien’s work and don’t like previous screen adaptations (ie Jackson’s films), this one is unlikely to change your mind.
Admittedly negative reviews are quite a bit less, but they are also really extreme.
“There are many ways to do a prequel, and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power gets them all wrong,” reads the first sentence in Entertainment Weekly.
Criticism has not been spared there, including the claim that the series should not be compared to “Home of the Dragon” but to the eight-hour “Avengers: Infinity War”, in which the good guys try to come together to fight the bad.
“This series is a special disaster of wasted potential, sacrificing the endless possibilities of a magnificent universe on the altar of tried and tested blockbuster desperation,” concludes the review, which gives it a rating equal to our 4 out of 6 system.
Interestingly, criticism also comes from a newspaper that is owned by Jeff Bezos – the man who paid a fabulous sum for the rights to the applications of “The Lord…” and making the adaptation. It’s about The Washington Post, where the headline is cutting: “The Rings of Power is a beautiful, banal bore.”
“The performances work but aren’t memorable, while the dialogue is particularly corny and far from artful, with too many monologues about the search for ‘the light’ or the ever-obscure nature of evil,” reads the inside. The conclusion is even sharper: “Rarely has danger felt so dull.”
Now you understand why it’s hard to build expectations based on first reviews. It is clear that there will be more of them – at least one will be waiting for you at Webcafe.bg.
Interestingly, Jeff Bezos himself revealed how one of his sons – who he says is an expert on Tolkien’s work – told him “Dad, please don’t screw him up”.
“We know this world is important to a lot of people, we know it’s a privilege to work in it, and we know it’s a great responsibility,” Bezos said at the premiere of the series in London. The head of Amazon is also a fan of books, which he says he met at the age of 13-14 thanks to his grandfather.
Bezos also joked with showrunners Patrick McKay and JD Payne that it was every showrunner’s dream to get notes on their scripts from the founder of the company behind the series. Apparently, Amazon’s boss was sending just such notes.
“Thank you for listening to me where it helped, but most of all thank you for ignoring me at the right times,” Bezos commented.
Although he jokes about both, it’s the lack of solid prior experience for Payne and McKay that worries many. And for Amazon Studios, this project is particularly important.
Is it successful beyond its obvious beauty? It’s a while before we know.