Lord of the Rings has been a property that took decades in the making to become a theatrical experience with Peter Jackson’s original films in the early 2000s. The Hobbit and the original Lord of the Rings story were made into animated and semi-animated films before that but was never truly realized until Jackson gave us his masterpiece trilogy. Some consider the story untouchable and should never be remade by Hollywood much like Back to the Future, The Godfather, or Star Wars.
And then in 2018, Amazon Studios announced that had purchased the streaming rights to the Lord of the Rings including the Appendices from the Tolkien Estate. The project was going to be the largest show ever produced for television in the age of the streaming wars. Many fans had worried that it would simply retread the same story of Frodo on his quest to destroy The One Ring in Mt. Doom. However, showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay came to Amazon with a pitch to do a show set thousands of years before the Fellowship ever leaves Rivendell. The age of Middle-Earth when Elves and Men were at the peak of perfection. And instead of a story about The One Ring; we learn the story of every Ring of Power. Amazon quickly shelled out the money on the pitch for a confirmed 5 seasons with 50 hours of episodic storytelling spread across this massive fantasy landscape known as Middle-Earth.
We at Knight Edge Media were able to screen the first two episodes of the first season set to debut on Amazon Prime in September. We can firmly tell you that this series does not disappoint without going into specific story arcs or character beats. The series hits the ground running in the very first 5 minutes by going 0 to 100 extremely fast. While many fans need to understand that everything will not be told to you and you must still wait out the journey of the entire series as it unfolds. We are here to discover the mysteries of Middle-Earth long before the Shire.
A common problem many fans have with the Hobbit trilogy is Jackson’s extreme overuse of CGI. He really didn’t capture the splendor of New Zealand as he did in the original films. The series perfectly mixes breathtaking shots of New Zealand’s countryside and the $465 Million budget ($60 million per episode) to introduce audiences to new locations in Middle-Earth including Lindon and Khazad-dûm. Another fear of fans was that this adaption may skewer towards adult content like Game of Thrones but that couldn’t be further from the case. The show is surprisingly funny in an innocent fantasy story kind of way. Mixing in humor from other fantasy stories like Willow or The Chronicles of Narnia throughout its various storylines.
While we still don’t fully know if the series will be canon to the original Peter Jackson trilogy we can clearly see his influence on the series. The way the story is written (though classic television writing tropes are present) and the way director and executive producer J. A. Bayona shot the series show great admiration for Jackson’s films. But let’s be clear this show was made for fans of the original books by fans of the original books. Again, despite Tolkien purists expecting the show to be a shot-for-shot recreation of the literature. Many need to realize that the showrunners MUST change aspects of Tolkien’s story to fulfill their 50 hours of content. If fans can allow some changes to be made (just like the films took liberties in) they will be in for one hell of a ride.
5.0 out of 5.0 stars
Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was made by fans of the films but created for those that love the books. The series is simply filled with mystery and wonder as we finally return to the realm of Middle-Earth; long before Frodo and Sam began their journey to save the Shire.