The Rings of Power (Amazon Series)

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Cool pictures, though the talk of new characters could be trouble. Kind of already a lot of characters and, no offense, but I'm not sure they're gonna improve on the ones already there.



That elusive hide-and-seek cow is at it again
I'd HATE to be the sound guy on set in that last pic. the wind coming in, the echo off those horns, constantly stabbing people after mistakenly grabbing one of those spears instead of the boom. wow. hope they got good insurance
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In the Beginning...
Cool pictures, though the talk of new characters could be trouble. Kind of already a lot of characters and, no offense, but I'm not sure they're gonna improve on the ones already there.
Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey (who is serving as a consultant on the Amazon series) actually addressed the addition of new characters back when the show was first announced:

Amazon has a relatively free hand when it comes to adding something, since, as I said, very few details are known about this time span. The Tolkien Estate will insist that the main shape of the Second Age is not altered. Sauron invades Eriador, is forced back by a Númenorean expedition, returns to Númenor. There he corrupts the Númenoreans and seduces them to break the ban of the Valar. All this, the course of history, must remain the same. But you can add new characters and ask a lot of questions, like: What has Sauron done in the meantime? Where was he after Morgoth was defeated? Theoretically, Amazon can answer these questions by inventing the answers, since Tolkien did not describe it. But it must not contradict anything that Tolkien did say.



Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey (who is serving as a consultant on the Amazon series) actually addressed the addition of new characters back when the show was first announced:
Thanks, definitely interesting.

Unfortunately it doesn't totally assuage my concerns, though, because I was less worried they'd alter major events (it's hard to imagine a show like this being that tone deaf these days) and more worried they'd just spend time on their own inventions rather than Tolkien's. Which, let's face it, are bound to be inferior.

Also, you can keep the surrounding events the same but still be telling ostensibly LOTR stories that don't really jibe with what Tolkien was trying to say, too. Or just co-opt his message for your own, etc.



The Adventure Starts Here!
I'm more optimistic with that trailer. And I'm more okay with them telling offshoot stories of their own making. But there is still caution. It looks absolutely beautiful, though. That's a start, but of course beauty won't make up for terrible storytelling. So, we wait.

We've hit that point in the summer where I keep thinking "September" anything is really far away. It's only about a month and a half now.



You ready? You look ready
My problem with series like this, as well as the Fantastic Beasts franchise, is the fact that...the bad guy loses. I already know he loses. It leaves me in a state of zero emotional investment.
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The Adventure Starts Here!
My problem with series like this, as well as the Fantastic Beasts franchise, is the fact that...the bad guy loses. I already know he loses. It leaves me in a state of zero emotional investment.
I think I know why you're saying this, if you mean this because it's a prequel so we know how things ultimately end. But all prequels have this issue, and yet I don't typically let that bother me. If the series is well written, the writers are banking on you knowing these things and they work with it. Case in point: Better Call Saul. I watch that amazing series knowing exactly what happens to Saul later in Breaking Bad. But it in no way lessens the experience of that prequel. In fact, I know they work with that certain knowledge, and it's fascinating to watch just how Jimmy morphs into Saul and spirals downward.

I'm not sure how far back The Rings of Power goes as a prequel, or whether they hope to piece it together to then fit in with the beginning of the first Hobbit movie, but if it's well done, knowing things coming later shouldn't deter from the experience of this series.

I hope.



In the Beginning...
I saw the first two episodes earlier today at a special theater screening.

So far, it's wonderful. This series has a lot of heart and was clearly crafted with great care. It also very definitely has the vibe of the Peter Jackson films, but on a grander and more immersive scale. Middle-earth continues to feel both breathtakingly vast and yet lovingly intimate at the same time.

I'm sure purist fanboys will complain about the close-cropped haircuts and POC characters, but even those gripes miss the bigger picture. This is a fantasy world you're meant to get lost in. You'll have more fun if you take the plunge.



After two episodes, it's not as bad as I expected. Sure, it feels more like a run-of-the-mill fantasy world from D&D than Tolkien's MIddle-Earth, but if you can forget the source material, it may end up being a decent watch. It saddens me to see such mistreatment of Tolkien, and I hate how his name is only a marketing tool for Amazon, but the first two episodes didn't ruin my day (the first was rather decent, actually, but the second was definitely worse).
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A system of cells interlinked
I guess I could only hold out for so long...

My wife and I watched the first episode last night, and it was pretty awesome. I was pulled out of the story a couple of times by annoyances, but overall, at least in this episode, the show did a lot right. The Harfoot stuff is fun, with a quirky cleverness to their society that I enjoyed, the vistas and effects are all top notch, and most of the characters are well-played so far.

Galadriel is a bit of a Mary Sue so far, which I guess I kind of expected, but the girl playing her is fine, and hopefully they have her go through some failures and hardship in the future. I was also annoyed by the kid in the tavern who seems to only exist to be a racist in the show. Really ham-fisted and obvious - subtlety would go a long way here - you don't need a character gesticulating wildly while yelling "You People!!" to get the idea across.

Lastly, on the so-called "Woke agenda" complaints I have seen leveled at the show: I am just not seeing it here, at least so far. Much ado about nothing, perhaps? At this point, people saying everything is woke is starting to annoy me just as much as stuff that is actually woke.

Anyhoo, will continue to watch this for now! The show runners have done a fine job at recapturing the magic of the films, delivering what looks to be a well-drawn fantasy world populated with interesting characters and nasty antagonists.
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Eh, I dunno if it's "purist" to not want a property you love twisted beyond recognition for some other end. It's purist to freak out over some tiny change, not to disapprove of a major shift in tone or focus.

My theory is that it looks irrational to anyone who doesn't love the source material, but that those people almost always have their own treasured stories that they'd react the same way to if something similar happened. It's kind of like how someone can love Star Trek and think people who love Harry Potter are dorks. Everybody's a dork about something, everybody's protective of something, and any time you see someone Mad Online about something you don't care about it looks nuts. There but for the Grace of God go you...

That said, obviously when something like this becomes a proxy for all sorts of other cultural of political issues, reviews and reactions online completely cease to be useful. Nobody's going in "clean" and very few people are able (willing?) to step outside of that and try to judge the thing itself. This includes people who feel an inclination to defend it just to counterbalance the people who are excessively annoyed by it. Tribalism all the way down.

I'd never give up on a show with this kind of potential after a couple of episodes, though, regardless, unless it was just horrendously bad. But it does seem like it's going to be impossible for a show like this to be great if it doesn't really "get" the core of Tolkien's work and his beliefs, which are woven into the show in a way that cannot be removed by any TV surgeon without killing the patient. Just making something that looks like the movies isn't going to cut it, no pun intended.

But I will give this a shot, because of that potential, because I fancy myself the kind of person who can mostly step outside of the culture war jib-jab stuff and try to see it for whatever it is. It will get a chance to surprise me. We'll see if it does.



Hmmmm. Maybe I need to give it another chance.

I watched about 45 minutes of the first episode last night and was fairly underwhelmed. The FX are good, costumes, imagery also good, but the whole thing seemed flat emotionally, actors just reciting lines with nice costumes. I have to admit that I think I'm used up on the whole Middle Earth thing. When they started inserting contemporary cultural attitudes about casting into it, it went down another notch and became like a TV ad campaign for coffee or fast food. At this point, there's just not enough appeal to make me invest the time in another LOTR iteration.

At least, if it were a conventional movie, I'd be in and out in an evening, like it or not. With this thing, we will get multiple episodes, spaced out in time, occupying a lot of my time, hoping that episode 7, or whatever, will finally grab me. I just don't see anything in episode one that makes me want to devote the time, only to be disappointed, especially if they never finish the intended series.



"Lastly, on the so-called "Woke agenda" complaints I have seen leveled at the show: I am just not seeing it here, at least so far. Much ado about nothing, perhaps? At this point, people saying everything is woke is starting to annoy me just as much as stuff that is actually woke"

Having lived through several iterations of "woke agenda", political correctness, color blind or whatever is the current euphemism, it's interesting to speculate what would happen if there were a Gone With the Wind remake in which Mammy was a white man, due to color and gender blindness. Isn't the whole point of Mammy that she's an African American female slave in the ante-bellum South?

Something similar comes into all of these LOTR spinoffs. Tolkien wrote his books as a fictional mythology of northern Euro culture. All of the cultural artifacts and costumes in the movies look like that too, especially the look of the elves. I recognize much of the look as being like artifacts from my own nordic paternal ancestors, none of it like my mediterranean maternal semitic ancestors. That's fine. It is what it is. It's not a coffee commercial where you want to appeal to all of the slots in the swath of culture. I honestly don't know where you go with this, how to appeal to the marketers that want broader cultural links, but I do know that since it doesn't look all that engaging anyway, I doubt that this series is the one that will fix the world's ethnic issues with casting decisions



A system of cells interlinked
I honestly don't know where you go with this, how to appeal to the marketers that want broader cultural links, but I do know that since it doesn't look all that engaging anyway, I doubt that this series is the one that will fix the world's ethnic issues with casting decisions
Agreed. Perhaps it is just my particular YouTube filter bubble, but on this particular show, I had seen multiple thumbnails float by decrying the total decimation of the LotR mythos in regards to this show. Rhetoric such as "Rings of Power is Abysmal! Goes woke and goes Broke!" or things of that nature. I don't click on this stuff, but it at least had me wondering if the show was a train wreck, which so far, it isn't. I presume the stuff appears on my feed in general because I do tend to watch some fairly right-leaning programming on the platform, and perhaps that is their target audience with all this stuff.

I try to avoid hit pieces on stuff I haven't seen yet, if only to avoid potential spoilers. Considering this show, and a week or two ago the Predator prequel Prey, I am thinking most of this stuff is clickbait, perhaps posted by people who haven't even seen the material in question.



Agreed. Perhaps it is just my particular YouTube filter bubble, but on this particular show, I had seen multiple thumbnails float by decrying the total decimation of the LotR mythos in regards to this show. Rhetoric such as "Rings of Power is Abysmal! Goes woke and goes Broke!" or things of that nature. I don't click on this stuff, but it at least had me wondering if the show was a train wreck, which so far, it isn't. I presume the stuff appears on my feed in general because I do tend to watch some fairly right-leaning programming on the platform, and perhaps that is their target audience with all this stuff.

I try to avoid hit pieces on stuff I haven't seen yet, if only to avoid potential spoilers. Considering this show, and a week or two ago the Predator prequel Prey, I am thinking most of this stuff is clickbait, perhaps posted by people who haven't even seen the material in question.
The unfortunate thing about these comments is that often they ARE from people who have attitudes, are ignorant and often are quite unintelligent. They are not comments you'll see here, but you will see on the huge torrent of bile, Facebook, but I've seen some from people that I actually "know" and they approach these movies as though they are additional books in the New Testament. It's important to them that their characters not violate the rules that they believe in, that it all fulfill their version of the story. I don't get it, but I do see it.

For the record, for me, it's just a movie, not the fulfillment of my view of the universe. I've seen thousands of them, this is yet another.



The Adventure Starts Here!
I'm enjoying it so far, cultural additions or changes notwithstanding.

If I hadn't been exposed to those same "Woke! Oh no!" headlines before watching--if I could have actually gone in without any outside bits coming into my brain--I would likely have thought to myself early on, "Oh, look, some of the early hobbits are different colors." Or, "That's interesting--a Black elf."

Then I would have completely forgotten it and continued watching, since that really doesn't seem to factor into my viewing decisions much if it's done by casting directors but doesn't otherwise need to be part of the story. (In other words, there aren't racial/color tensions in this show. The "races" aren't all humans of different colors. They're different races of *creatures* and colors within their ranks are varied. I'm okay with that.)

I do love the source material, and I'm sure Tolkien would say a lot about the European influences that don't seem to be there as much in this new series... but I'm enjoying it, and I'm happy to be back in the LOTR world in general. So sue me.



This far:

As a Tolkien adaptation: 0/5
As generic run-of-the-mill fantasy mumbo-jumbo: 2.5/5

The first episode is still the high point. I really hope they manage to stop the slide.