It's finally here! Amazon's $1 billion worth, The Lord of the Rings series has begun streaming on the Prime Video platform. The series will follow a weekly release format where one episode will drop every Friday, but for its debut, two episodes have been released at the same time. From the looks of it, and I mean visually, every penny spent on the show can be seen shining beautifully in the form of breathtaking CGI. Truth be told, I wished I had some magical powers in me so that I could have transformed my laptop into a giant screen. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power deserves to be watched on a big screen, but unfortunately, not all of us would receive that opportunity. Just wait until you observe waterfalls, a snowy mountain, or a firecracker bursting with colors and life. Jaws will drop all right, especially considering the lousy visual effects we have received from our so-called big-budget movies for some time.
The first two episodes introduce us to this world and lay the ground for future events. We move from one region to another and meet Elves, Dwarfs, and Harfoots. With respect to the plot, you should know that Sauron is back, baby (remember him? He was a flaming eye in Peter Jackson's trilogy). Well, he appears briefly at the beginning before disappearing entirely. His "disappearance" is taken as a sign that the enemy no longer exists. But Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) believes the foes are still out there, waiting for the right moment to strike. She has made it her mission to seek and kill Sauron, for he is responsible for her brother's death. Elsewhere, we notice the antics of Nori (Markella Kavenagh), a Harfoot with an abundance of curiosity. She wonders about the world beyond her existence and yearns to learn more when an elder warns that the skies look troubling. Nori doesn't even hesitate to go close to a strange man who falls like a meteor from the sky. What else? Oh yes, there is a Silvan Elf named Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova) who is in love with a human healer and single mother named Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi). Her son, Theo (Tyroe Muhafidin), comes across something evil that might prove dangerous for him and everyone around him.
"Spectacular!" is what I was almost always uttering in front of the grand scale and gorgeous visuals presented in front of me. However, the same compliment did not entirely extend to the story. Maybe because the first two episodes basically serve as a setup, they are infected with clichés that do not really attract your enthusiasm. When a ship is about to enter an ethereal light, you know a certain someone would swim in the opposite direction of paradise. When a character hypes up a meeting with dwarves, you predict the outcome will vastly differ from his words. And then there is that thing about living in a bubble, thinking that your enemies have died. We all know that bubble would burst eventually. The Rings of Power does not infuse life into these clichés. It follows them like an unemotional robot. When the awe you get from seeing impressive visual effects dies, you are left with an unexciting and unimaginative story that kills the momentum slowly.
The Rings of Power has emotions but has no idea how to extract them effectively. When Arondir and Bronwyn talk to one another in front of a well, you find absolutely zero chemistry between them on screen. They might have just met each other the same morning. Similarly, when Arondir leaves behind his men and comes to Bronwyn's house, the scene doesn't feel romantic. The moment lacks the pulse of a beating heart and seems to be filmed with ennui. Take the conversation between Elrond (Robert Aramayo) and Prince Durin (Owain Arthur). The latter is bitter because his so-called old friend didn't show up at his wedding or during the birth of his kids. There is an interesting idea here about how true friendship means being there for your friend during the important parts of his/her life. However, that thought gets buried under impersonal filmmaking.
I admit it's too early to pass a verdict on The Rings of Power, and I really hope the series gets better with progression. But solely based on the first two episodes, The Rings of Power comes across as emotionally hollow but visually stunning.
Final Score – [6/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
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