A few weeks back I wrote up a weekend watchlist to review and recommend the entire Lord of The Rings trilogy. As if you needed another opinion telling you to watch it, but I did it anyway.
The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power. Who greenlit “…The Rings: The Rings…”? It’s a clunky title for a clunky show. And that is, unfortunately, the chief flaw of this first season. While it is a glaring issue at the worst of times, it is far from fatal. Regardless of all the salty fanboy tears that were shed and angry forum posts that were written when it was announced, this series was damn enjoyable. Seemingly out of pure spite for the predicted backlash it received, too.
The question you’re probably wondering is how does it compare to the movies? To answer that, I think you should take a step back and level set your expectations. Doing that is an unfortunately necessary, yet fruitful exercise when dealing with modern media.
On one hand, you have Peter Jackson – an underdog, indie horror director out of New Zealand tackling some of the most acclaimed fantasy novels of all time. As fun as it is to picture Jackson stomping off through the gorgeous countryside with nothing but his camera and some scripts, that’s not necessarily how it happened. He was financed by a very reputable studio with a long history of quality pictures and deep pockets. Regardless of that small detail, it’s a great story in retrospect.
On the other hand, Rings of Power is directed by a trio of directors, written by a group of nobodies, produced and financed by one of the worst modern day plagues on society: Amazon. I feel that it’s the distaste for Amazon that is tainting a large majority of audience opinions. If you will, take Amazon out of this, for just a moment. It can be a lot to ask for some people, but if you can, it’s the key to enjoying this show a little bit more.
The show is gorgeous and feels like Jackson’s trilogy. The set design, imagery, CGI, and landscapes are all amazing. It feels familiar and well made. The ridiculous pile of money that was spent on every episode is evident throughout the entire series. The costumes and creature designs make the show feel real and lived in, something that other Middle Earth properties like The Hobbit were lacking
Sure, it’s not completely “lore accurate”, but again, nobody except the hardcore book fans seems to care. Or at least, care loudly. The Peter Jackson trilogy, the ones that I and millions of others love so dearly, aren’t 100% lore accurate either. There are minor complaints with Jackson’s adaptation here and there, some justified, some not. But it’s the consistency and forward thinking that makes the movies so good. Every scene, every line, pays off in spades at the end of the final movie.
The same can’t be said for Rings of Power. The money spent on this show can buy all the pretty visuals and set pieces Jeff Bezos wants. But even with that investment, it can’t escape poorly written dialogue or awkward transitions and bad sub plots.
Each episode has some really great sections that are very entertaining and will make a lot of fans happy. But every now and then it stumbles into a rabbit hole, twists its ankle and hobbles to the finish line, only to be picked back up by the next episode. Rinse and repeat about 6 times. It happens enough to be a pattern and that’s what makes this show clunky.
The bad isn’t so bad to write off the whole show, but it can’t be ignored either. It feels like the forward thinking attitude of the writers and producers forgot that each season needs to be a self enclosed thing. It leaves the end of season one with an awkward conclusion that should have been more of a mid season event.
To answer your question, the clunky nature of the show is amplified when comparing it to the near perfection that is the trilogy that came before it. So, don’t compare it. Treat it as it’s own thing because even if you hate it, it won’t ruin your enjoyment of the movies. It’s a high quality and beautiful return to the world of Middle Earth and an opportunity for a new generation of fans to experience what it has to offer.