Amazon's LotR: Rings of Power has now been shown to critics, and they largely agree that it's very good. But are these critics to be trusted? And what will Tolkien fans actually think of it?
As any right-minded person would agree, The Lord of the Rings is the greatest work of fantasy every produced. Please don't mistake me, I have no ill-will towards Harry Potter or Game of Thrones, or any other work of fantasy (and you can rest assured I will be playing Hogwarts Legacy in February), but these tales could never hope to rise to the majesty of Tolkien, whose work is almost sacred to me. And so, dear reader, you can imagine my excitement when I first heard that Amazon were making a high-budget show for LotR.
It feels like an age since we began playing the guessing game of when and where in Middle Earth the show would be set. Will we see Númenor? Are the Valar going to make an appearance? It's all thrilling stuff, but as we approach release we're forced to ask a more serious and potentially troubling question: is the Rings of Power any good? Many of the hardcore have been put off by the show's liberal interpretations of the text, but the critics who have now seen episodes one and two have spoken far more highly of the show...
Critics Praise Rings of Power After Watching Episodes 1 & 2
Select critics were invited by Amazon to watch the first two episodes of LotR: The Rings of Power, and they almost unanimously loved it. I went on an absolute deep-dive to try and find reviews from every critic who was invited, and I could only find one (literally just one) that had negative things to say. These came from Rob Keyes of Screen Rant, who said the show still "has work to do making the plot exciting" and the "pacing is off". But everyone else seemed 100% positive on the show.
Here are what other critics had to say:
The massive budget just bleeds off the screen, and it *feels* like something that would fit alongside Jackson’s films. But even with such a huge world, it’s never overwhelming and keeps it’s focus.
It's a powerhouse of storytelling that reaffirms why I love LOTR and the kind of world building that empowers and inspires. Also, badass women. Can't forget about them!
Everything about this series is incredible. From the cinematography to the costumes to the movie quality sets. And, of course, the cast. Get ready for something special. I cannot wait to see more.
Wow, certainly high-praise, and it's promising to hear how well-spent the budget was. But should you still be wary?
Perhaps I'm still feeling the wounds from that unfortunate Hobbit trilogy, but I can't shake this awful feeling that we're going to end up in generic fantasy land alongside the Wheel of Time. The marketing just never looked authentically like Tolkien's world, and the themes of the show sound so divorced from his focus on the pastoral, and on living in the remnants of a Golden Age.
I hope I'm wrong, I really do. But if I'm not, at least there's been some promising news about a Gandalf spinoff movie from the Embracer Group.
If you're a fellow lover of Tolkien then I urge you to watch this with caution...