Why Amazon’s new (and debated) series deserves your attention
The wait is over and Friday, September 2, 2022, the first season of the series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power debuted exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.
There’s been so much talking since then, with fans and critics splitting into factions: those who are praising Tolkien’s adaptation and those who are not happy with the result. We had the chance to watch the first two episodes before the audience and before the reviews came out and, even if two episodes are not enough to judge a TV series, we could get an idea of what is waiting for us.
Based on the appendices to the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, the series is set in the Middle-Earth during Second Age and it is a prequel to the story we know from the book: it is a moment characterized by important events, such as the forging of the Rings of Power, the rise of Sauron, the fall of the Kingdom of Númenor and the last alliance between Elves and Men.
The first two episodes, directed by Spanish filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible, Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom), act as an introduction to what will be the main subject of the series: the hunt for the Dark Lord Morgoth, a character who also appears in Silmarillon, the Unfinished Tales and The Hobbit. First: even if the series is disconnecter from Peter Jackson’s film trilogy, The Rings of Power opens in a similar way, with the narrating voice of Galadriel, played by actress Morfydd Clark: she tells us about the loss of her brother, killed by Morgoth’s orcs, and of her promise to hunt him down to avenge his death. In a few sequences we find her as an adult, in a peaceful world where evil seems a distant memory. But Galadriel lives in torment: certain that the same threat still looms on Middle-earth she leads an army of Elves with the sole purpose of defeating Morgoth. We also know Elrond (Robert Aramayo), Half-elf, architect and politician, and the Harfoots, a family of Hobbits that Tolkien fans know very well.
In the second episode, we get to know Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova), a guardian elf, whose job is to protect a small group of peasants who were once allies of Morgoth and Nori (Markella Kavenagh), a Harfoot girl constantly looking for adventures, that often puts herself and her beloved ones in danger.
Since its debut The Rings of Power received mixed reviews, with Amazon putting a pause to them after getting only the 34% of approval on Rotten Tomatoes. To us it looks great: Amazon’s effort is tangible, the series is visually sumptuous and the only flaw we can find, at the moment, is that a small screen may feel too tight to Tolkien’s fantastic world. We’ll wait and see how the story unfolds.
For now we it is a cinematic experience, with an excellent cast and the pace of the two episodes is fast enough to thrill even those who look at the fantasy genre with distrust. Those who have never read the books and have never seen the films, should imagine the series as halfway between Vikings and Game of Thrones, an adventure with travels, conquests and fantastic creatures. You need to follow the plot, but it is not that difficult.
Tolkien fans should watch the series religiously, the rest of the audience with a curious eye.