When Peter Jackson brought his trilogy to the big screen “Lord of the Rings” 21 years ago, he didn’t just manage to masterfully render his mythic world J. RR Tolkien, but in addition to create a franchise benchmark in modern film history. What’s more, Jackson’s original trilogy is one of the best film adaptations of all time, and one that extolled the richness that inhabits Tolkien’s pages.
Thus, with the parenthesis of “The Hobbit” leaving a bittersweet memory, the return to Middle Earth through television and especially the streaming platform Amazon Prime, inevitably raised the expectations of everyone who gets excited when they hear words like Elves, Dwarves and Orcs. Absolutely justified, since only for the realization of the first season of the series “The Rings of Power” more than $460 million was spent. That is, almost 60 million for each of the total 8 one-hour episodes that make it up. Amounts that pale in comparison to the total budget of 280 million that Jackson’s original trilogy took.
So, a few hours after the premiere of the new “Rings” what is left? A welcome nostalgic yet awkward feeling. Let’s take the things from the beginning. The story takes place many centuries before the events of the films, when Sauron regroups his forces while hiding in Middle-earth. The only one who is convinced that she has not been completely destroyed is Galadriel (ideal in the role of Morfid Clarke) who is determined to track him down and eliminate him once and for all. At the same time, another Elf, Elrond (Robert Aramaio) embarks on a separate mission to forge a grand project while, in another corner of Middle-earth, two Trichopods, one of the Hobbit tribes, come into contact with a strange being that fell like a meteorite from the sky. At the same time, the Elven soldier Arondir (Ishmael Cordova) comes close to locating the source of the evil.
Inevitably, the first two episodes that have already become available on Amazon Prime (the new ones every Friday) could only be introductory to the new saga. From the very opening shot, Jackson’s aura and influence is evident. Both in terms of the aesthetics and iconography of the “Tolkien” world, and mentally in the way the narrative paths are introduced. Differences compared to Tolkien’s original work obviously exist, but the tried and tested director Juan Antonio Bayona he knows very well how to render an imposing universe well. He has proven it in the past (“The Orphanage”, “The Impossible”), so even with the freedom offered by the huge production budget, he manages to make a series that visually looks flawless. There are moments when the beauty of the shots takes your breath away and you wish you were enjoying them in a dark room. An added asset is Clarke’s performance, which seems to entertain the contradictions of her dynamic heroine and stand confidently beneath the flesh of one of Tolkien’s most iconic figures.
What’s missing, for now at least, is a sense of real stakes, genuine dark menace and awe., elements intertwined with Tolkien’s fantasy epics as, of course, with Jackson’s films. The main reason for this is the weak connection between the parallel plots, which momentarily distract the attention and the coherence of the action. Thus, the opening episodes feel more like a polished tour of Middle-earth than a myth in the making. Still, as the series will now gain a palpable pulse, it has already achieved something crucially essential; to exude the sense of taste for the unknown and discovery of the strange that should accompany a fairy tale.
In conclusion, “Rings of Fire” may not be the grand triumph it promised, but it has the makings of a series that will not be easily forgotten. If nothing else, its creators J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay they’re committed to a total of five seasons, of which they claim to know every last frame… Then there’s the competition in between. With the opening of “The Rings” has started an informal audience rivalry between the “blockbuster series”, namely between Amazon and HBO, which recently launched the prequel “House of the Dragon” belonging to the “Game of Thrones” universe. Different in climate and style but both part of the fantastic, the two productions will judge a lot in relation to the future of television. Officially, we have entered an unprecedented period in television where series are being shown at the same time that financially compete with the cinema. The new landscape that is taking shape depends on their success, which is why the coming weeks promise to be exciting…