The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power ★★★
J.D. Payne, Patrick McKay
Starring Morfydd Clark, Robert Aramayo, Markella Kavenagh, Daniel Weyman
Peter Jackson's tenure as the torchbearer of all things Tolkien officially ended with The Hobbit trilogy: a CGI heavy, stretched-out mess that mostly tarnished Middle-Earth more than Sauron could. Looking to reignite the fires, Amazon have forged The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, our first series set before the events of the beloved books and the billion dollars spent have mostly worked wonders.
The series acts as a recount of the events of the second age, including the reign of the elves, the rise of corruption in the Southlands and the creation of the eponymous rings of power, featuring mostly new characters with a few familiar faces along the way.
Fans of the original trilogy will be pleased to find these faces expertly cast as younger versions of which Galadriel and Elrond are the standouts.
However the unfamiliar settings give The Rings of Power the chance to show off the true beauty of Middle Earth before it's ravaged by war, gloriously evoking enough of the atmospheric aerial footage of New Zealand in The Lord of the Rings (the greatest trilogy of all time) to pull us in. Married with the shimmer of ancient cities and brutality of blood-filled battles, the budget is shown off in full force displaying how invested Amazon are in delivering a fan favourite epic.
That being said, the story has glaring pacing issues which will likely deter most viewers after the first few episodes, as the world-building takes much longer than anticipated to generate a real sense of tension in the story (something that would have been better suited as a film rather than an 8-part show). Because The Rings of Power is a prequel leading us to the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, you know what the danger is before it is revealed and that often completely nullifies the tension, leaving you to spend a good portion of time trying to cast a spell at home that makes things move along a bit faster.
Having finished the series, the resolution is just and although some reveals that were designed to shock can be seen coming from a mile away, the events do not feel any less Tolkien or forced for fan service. It's clear that Amazon are thinking long term and needed the 8-episode epic to establish the tone and ground rules before really getting in to the nitty gritty in a potential second season.
Much like the long road to Mordor, The Rings of Power is a visual trek in itself, but with the scene set this feels like the beginning of a journey that could stand alongside the precious trilogy and provide a future of equally action-packed instalments.
Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power available now on Amazon Prime Video