TV Review | The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power (Premiere Episodes)
“An interesting and enjoyable start to the small screen prequel series to the big budget movies. The look and design are amazing.” We travel to Middle-Earth for Prime Video’s The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power.
The thought of a ‘The Lord Of The Rings‘ streaming series has been drifting about for a few years. We heard that Prime Video was in the process of making a show based on J.R.R Tolkien’s classic novels. We’ve patiently waited for the series to finish filming and head to our televisions. We’ve seen the trailers, we’ve seen the posters. And we’ve even heard the music and watched the premiere. Now it is time to return to Middle-Earth finally. Prime Videos’ ‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’ will hit screens this Friday with a two-episode launch. This will be followed by weekly releases of the next episode. But can the series capture lightning in a bottle and prove to be a worthy return to Middle-Earth or will it sink in a peat bog to its doom?
THE SPIRIT OF PETER JACKSON
Thankfully, the show seems destined to be lightning in a bottle. The show has captured the spirit and feel of the Peter Jackson Oscar-winning trilogy while introducing the world to brand new characters. As soon as the first episode starts, we feel like we are back on familiar ground. Ground that we think we know all about. Guess what? We don’t. While a few places are familiar, the majority of the places we will be visiting are new. And except for a few characters, everyone we encounter is new. And some are instantly taken to our hearts.
THE OPENING TWO EPISODES
I saw the first two episodes at a special screening on Tuesday evening. They were edited into a two-hour-long movie-type event. Now, I shan’t be revealing much of what I saw. The reason is simple. The viewer needs to watch the opening episodes CLEAN. Without anything in the way of spoilers. But I shall reveal the opening to you. The series starts with a voiceover from Galadriel (now portrayed by actress Morfudd Clark.) We witness the rising of evil in Middle-Earth and in particular, a brief look at Sauron himself. Clad in his armor and helmet, Sauron is an imposing figure. But despite our look at him, it will also be the last time we will see him in the opening two episodes.
Galadriel’s brother is slain in battle. But instead of simply mourning him, she decides to take up his sword and head out to confront the evil she believes is returning to Middle-Earth. We follow Galadriel and her companions on their quest to locate and destroy the rising threat. We also jump between the Harfoots, the small people who inhabit Middle-Earth as well as following Elrond and the Elves in their own storyline. And we follow the storyline featuring Silvan Elf Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova) and his forbidden love for the human healer Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) and her son.
The best thing to do before sitting down to the series is to forget who played the familiar characters we will encounter before. The cast is a standout from the very start. There are so many brilliant performances that it is hard to pick out too many in particular. But praise must be given to Robert Aramayo as Elrond, Maxim Baldry as Isildur, and Lenny Henry as Sadoc Burrows. All three bring their characters to life with aplomb. But special praise must be given to Megan Richards as Poppy Proudfellow. She is the companion to the character of Nori. Poppy is to the series what Samwise was to Frodo in the movies. Someone who will advise and give their all for their friend.
MORFYDD CLARK AND MARKELLA KAVENAGH
But the biggest praise is reserved for Morfydd Clark and Markella Kavenagh. Ms. Clark as Galadriel is superb in the role we associate with Cate Blanchett. This is a version of Galadriel we haven’t seen before. This version is more of a warrior than the elder stateswoman we have known her as before. An Amazonian warrior if you will. She is more determined and resourceful in this prequel than she was in the movies. She is one of the main characters in the show. And we know that we will be following her journey more than many others.
Markella Kavanagh is a revelation. Her performance as Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot is a complete highlight. She is the character that we will take to our hearts. Nori is a Harfoot with a yearning for adventure. And we can’t help but fall in love with her character from the first time we see her. The young Australian actress throws herself into the role. And we can’t help but enjoy Nori’s sense of wonder and mischievousness. She will become a fan favorite and one of the characters that we will be rooting for.
THE DESIGN AND LOOK
The show’s design and look are incredible. It invokes memories of the ‘Lord Of The Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ trilogies instantly. The way the show looks is extraordinary. It’s like stepping back in time to the movies and setting foot in a land we already know and love. Everything about the show, from the small details to the epic set designs is exemplary. We look at some of the places we visit and marvel at the sheer scale that has gone into them. The look is epic and more in line with a cinematic event instead of a small-screen streaming series. The designs on show take our breath away. And are guaranteed to make the audience, in particular the fans of the source material, smile widely.
The opening two episodes are directed well. The whole feel and flow of the show are almost akin to the first ‘Lord Of The Rings’ film. It does jump about a bit but nothing is left out. The episodes are more than enough to whet the appetite of the audience and the direction is handled brilliantly. Everything is framed almost perfectly with no small details being missed or left out. The action itself is handled with extreme care and attention. Yes, we get to see a few creatures in the opening two episodes. And fans will be happy to know that we will encounter an Orc along the way in a sequence that is more adult than a fantasy adventure. And it is handled extremely well.
Sorry to let everyone down but if you’re expecting a theme that reprises what has gone before, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Howard Shore has written a haunting and perfectly fitting main theme for the show. But it doesn’t have any elements of his scores in the movies. This is a shame in parts. But his theme is reminiscent of his scores to the Peter Jackson original trilogy. And it works. Bear McCreary composes the series’ music we will hear during proceedings. And it is to his credit that he delivers a score that fits the series and the world of Tolkien to perfection. It invokes memories of the music from the movies and carries the series forward. It is a score that is rich, rewarding, and exactly what the series needs going forward.
The series will need time to find its feet going forward. But what we see in the opening two episodes gives us hope that they can stick the landing. There is certainly enough here for everyone to enjoy and it doesn’t feel formulaic. It feels like we are returning to Middle-Earth to learn more about Tolkien’s world. The new characters are good enough for us to all feel and hope for. Their journeys are just beginning and we will have fun following them every week.
Epic in scale, and with great potential moving forward, it is an interesting and enjoyable start to the small-screen prequel series to the big-budget movies. The look and design are amazing. And the acting performances are terrific. At times, we will feel we already know these characters. But then the series takes a turn and we realize we know nothing as yet. And that’s the beauty of the opening to the series. While feeling familiar in places, it takes us on a journey that we haven’t experienced yet. An Unexpected Journey? Not quite. But an enjoyable, intriguing, and delightful one for fans and non-fans alike. And you’ll be hooked from the start.
“The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power” will begin on Prime Video on September 2nd.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!