By: Nick Gambino
We are now seven episodes into the new Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power show on Prime Video, so we have a pretty good idea as to whether or not it’s any good. Does it hold up to the hype and was it worth it for Amazon to spend over a billion dollars on it?
The answer is yes, but it’s complicated. This show was always going to be put under a microscope, more than most other debut shows. Its cinematic predecessors were behemoths that racked up a zillion dollars at the box office. I’m even obsessed with them and I’m not a big fantasy guy.
To get an idea of the quality of the show, let’s look at the first episode that launched it.
What it got wrong
While The Rings of Power is impressive, there seems to be a lack of epic scale and I don’t fully know why that is. There’s a large cast, there are large battles, they’re literally all over the map, yet it doesn’t seem to ever reach the epic heights of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies. Why is that?
One of the smartest things Jackson ever did was convince the studio to let him shoot in Australia’s neighboring country so that they would have instant access to a sprawling Middle Earth without having to build it out digitally. The vast New Zealand landscape looks incredible to the naked eye.
The Rings of Power smartly decided to film there exclusively, but it just feels different. Perhaps it’s an over reliance on green screen or Jackson just knows how to shoot his home country properly.
Then there’s the action in the first episode of which there is little, which is fine. But Galadriel’s first fight scene, against the snow troll, is underwhelming. It’s part of the intro to the show and thus, extremely important that they get it right, but it was a real letdown. The editing in that scene was choppy and the fighting felt overly choreographed with odd choices for movements.
What it got right
Now, the character work and world building are certainly impressive and that’s what I’m checking in for. Sure, I want action scenes worthy of Legolas, but in the absence of that, at least give me interesting characters and stories that will hook me. And that’s what they’ve done with The Rings of Power.
The whole first episode is setting the stage for what’s to come. It’s like if Game of Thrones almost exclusively geared everyone around the White Walkers storyline as the pivot point for all their individual stories and arcs. It makes for a fascinating show with mysteries to be solved and characters to be explored.
All in all, it’s a solid show. Again, it was always going to be held to a higher standard because of what came before, but if allowed to stand on its own, it’s precious. (I’ll see myself out.)