Review of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Amazon TV Series

Less than two weeks after HBO debuted game of Thrones precursor house of the dragonAmazon unveils its own highly anticipated fantasy epic: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, a massive undertaking that lasted almost four years and saw the streamer reportedly commit more than a billion dollars (!) to the series before it even premiered. It’s undeniably a huge swing, but after watching the first two episodes I have to say it connects.

Rings of Power (Debuting this Thursday at 9:8c; sign up for Prime Video now) isn’t just good, it’s great: a delightfully immersive and superbly ambitious spectacle, packed with stunning visuals and compelling storylines. Most importantly, it captures the same sense of awe we felt while watching the film Lord of the rings Movies – one we don’t often experience on the small screen.

Lord of the Rings The Rings of Power NoriWell, I’ve seen and enjoyed these Peter Jackson movies, but I haven’t read any of the original JRR Tolkien books, and at certain points while watching Rings of Power, I felt like I needed a cheat sheet to sort through all the new characters. Even if you can’t spell their names, their innate humanity still shines through. (The series also helps us by pointing out the setting of each scene on a giant, scrolling map of Middle-earth, introducing us to the different lands and inhabitants.) There’s no Gandalf and no Frodo here – although there are Harfoots, a primitive form of proto-hobbits – and no rings, at least not yet. But we do look younger versions of the elven heroes Galadriel and Elrond Lord of the rings…because elves are immortal, you know.

Set you back thousands of years Lord of the Ringsduring Tolkien’s second age, Rings of Power begins with the elves engaged in a brutal war with Sauron’s orcs that lasts for centuries. Galadriel (Its dark materials‘ Morfydd Clark) is a fierce warrior determined to avenge the death of her beloved brother Finrod on the battlefield. Even after the war is over and everyone else believes Sauron is finally defeated, she will not give up, fanatical about eradicating every last vestige of evil in the realm once and for all. Along the way we meet happy dwarves and curious Harfoots, along with a forbidden Man-Elf romance that generates some serious heat. (Some parts of this sound familiar to me: a wide-eyed young Harfoot named Nori, played endearingly by Markella Kavenagh, craves adventure just like Frodo does, and she even looks like she could be Elijah Wood’s long-lost cousin.)

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Lord of the Rings The Rings of Power Arondir BronwynThe cast consists mostly of little-known actors — though I did recognize alums hometown and game of Thrones – but that only helps make the series all the more immersive as if we were meeting it here for the first time. And all the money Amazon spent is certainly up there on the screen: Rings of Power delivers breathtaking battle scenes such as a bloody tangle with an ice troll, an encounter with a fearsome sea monster known as The Worm, and a harrowing orc battle that plays out like a zombie attack the Walking Dead. But it also delights us with images of great beauty, from impossibly green valleys to towering walls of ice to glittering elfin cities. Bear McCreary’s stirring, ethereal musical score also adds to the sense of grandeur. It’s almost worth seeing just for sights like a sprawling dwarf metropolis built into a mountain. (Pro tip: watch this on the biggest screen you can find.)

But it’s not meaningless eye candy either. The characters’ motivations may seem basic at first, but they develop and deepen over time; The second episode is even better than the first, artfully expanding on the relationships introduced in the pilot. Showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay (Star Trek: Beyond) may have plenty of story threads to juggle, but so far they all work, with the early episodes planting seeds that will pay off later, like a powerful sword fragment and a mystical stranger born of a fiery comet. (breaking Bad Vet Gennifer Hutchison is also a writer and executive producer here, which is an encouraging sign.) Rings of Power just feels epic. It manages to tap into an elemental power that transcends plot and character, transporting us to a world of wonder.

THE TVLINE BASE: Amazon’s Lord of the rings series The Rings of Power is worth the wait: a grandiosely ambitious epic with stunning graphics. Review of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Amazon TV Series

Lindsay Lowe

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