The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (2022)
Even though House of the Dragon was inbound, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was the show I was most excited about last year. I’ve watched the extended editions of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings (which to be fair don’t feel too much different to the cinema edits) and somewhat controversially I even enjoyed The Hobbit trilogy. The Rings of Power is apparently the most expensive TV (internet) show ever made; Amazon Prime ploughed almost half a billion dollars into its first, eight episode, run.
Opening with a sand in the butthole title sequence, which looks expensive but like sand circling a butthole, The Rings of Power quickly establishes Galadriel and some other characters too dull to remember, then sort of lingers around threatening to get exciting. Now, this might be me just being a glass half empty; was it the weight of expectation, or just waiting for anything exciting which was making me bored and disinterested? I persevered.
You might be interested in knowing the plot of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, and that's fair enough. It is set before J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. There you go. You can also watch the trailer, which is actually pretty good and part of the reason I was so excited for the show.
In their defence, the makers of The Rings of Power were essentially trying to Chat GPT Tolkien and ghost write a prequel to one of the most intricate literary accomplishments since Immanuel Kant reduced generations of students to pools of tears with his impenetrable metaphysics. I'd love to see an algorithm-written Kant. Do it someone please, and make it really, really expensive so we know it’s good. This was always going to be a roll of the dice with The Lord of the Rings films of two decades ago being such fantastic and well paced adaptations.
Besides, it isn’t actors of colour who ruin The Rings of Power, there’s plenty of other things to get upset about.
Joseph Mawle has all the emotiveness of a digitally de-aged Clive Owen, the accents are bizarre, the threat and tension isn’t threatening or tense… It became a chore, I was watching The Rings of Power only so I can say with certainty that it was a waste of my time. A paradox I know, but The Rings of Power is one giant, costly, paradox. While there’s some good about it, one of those things being it looks like someone spent a lot of money on it, the show isn’t really that good.
When it isn’t trying to be Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, The Rings of Power is quite good. When it is it feels derivative and actually a bit cheap. Brighton Pier used to be the place for knock off scents, aftershave and perfume, I’d stock up when I went down as a teenager. But a cheap fake is easy, what’s the point in a fake which costs more than what it is imitating?
Is The Rings of Power deserving of the cinema? In the sense that I’ve paid to see worse on the big screen, yes. In the sense that I’m glad I didn’t pay (directly, singularly) to see it, no. But then, that’s a nonsensical criteria. I’d definitely walk out of it at current length, but in 2 ½ hours probably not. What I’m trying to say is that despite all the monies spaffed all over its facade, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is an eight-hour-plus origins story and 75% of it is dull. 5/10
*And still aren’t, I imagine.