„The Lord of the Rings – The Rings of Power“ launched:
A continuing modernization of Tolkien which already began with the adaptations by Peter Jackson over twenty years ago, the Amazon series – according to the first one and a half episodes – successfully transforms the artifical myth. This time around targeting a global television audience and not just the Hollywood blockbuster crowd (as Jackson, Boyens and Walsh did back then).
How much of „our world“ is in this depiction of Tolkien? Not a lot I would say. Accused by right-wing agendas – because of several „social justice“ proponents of the show – as being some sort of „disgrace“ for „true“ Tolkien „fans“, the fears seem to be unnecessary while its careful dialogue and overall slow pace are at the same time paying tribute by doing great justice to the traditionally popular (but nevertheless sophisticated) source material.
Yes, it almost feels like an original programme at times: compared with its direct competition however, HBO’s magnificent „House of the Dragon“, the series certainly still has to find its own roots at the now elevated former „silver screen“ (yet it already looks quite certain in both its grace and ambition). Everything feels fleshed out and carried through by mostly former unknown players with fresh faces. Just like „The Sopranos“ or „Game of Thrones“ did: although most performances may not be as stellar as those in „House of the Dragon“.
Getting the details right being no problem either: presenting Galadriel in a more active, down-to-earth part is something that was already hinted at by Cate Blanchett in her performance: when looking carefully Blanchett played the role of a character with a quite different past seeking redemption who’s still threatend by the seduction of power (through Sauron’s many manifestations). Here in the second age and in her youth this evil is at a juxtaposition: not only regarding her own „life“ (towards eternity offshore) but also regarding its re-materialisation in (the continent of) middle-earth itself.
Indeed, for the first time a global audience may now see – similar to Westeros and Martin’s world – that Tolkien’s imagination was in fact much bigger than alone middle-earth: the myth is front and center, it’s a joy to watch with a nod to evolution (harfoots as predecessors of hobbits) and even a mysterious nature-bound figure (in the vein of the always anticipated Tom Bombadil character who Jackson lately could only evoke through Radagast) arriving from the skies – the only minor complaint I have is the central event of this comet which Tolkien himself may have rejected as a much too obvious Christian symbol (the way it is presented). Other nitpicks I have are concerning some objects in the dwarves‘ home which I think look way too shiny (in Dolby Vision that is).
Last but not least: during my initial view, I recognized not a single „woke“ moment. Although I have to warn you: I already thought of the video game „The Last of Us, Part II“ to be quite conservative (in German).
And yes, I can’t stand nearly everything Apple is producing (except „Foundation“ and „Invasion“), and despise most of the new output from Disney+ or a majority of the rest of Amazon’s programming (like the dreadful but apparently very popular „The Boys“ – no, not all of this sort of content may actually get „cancelled“ by right-wingers through becoming commercially unsuccesful). Yet as with the rather faithful adaptation of Robert Jordan’s „The Wheel of Time“ earlier this year (somewhat helmed by Brandon Sanderson who helped finishing the books), I don’t think there’s something to worry about except for wishing best luck (similar to MTV’s „Shannara“ five years ago which unfortunately did not achieve enough positive resonance to carry on).