The Hollywood Reporter in conjunction with Prime Video recently posted a series of behind-the-scenes videos focusing on the set design in the Prime Video series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”.
The “Building Middle-earth” series of videos show details that can be missed while watching the series at home. The commentary by set designers, actors, and craftspeople reveals insights and secrets about the decisions that went into the direction the series took and how it was made. The craft and care that went into the sets is truly amazing! It’s the type of stuff Ringers everywhere are trying to spy out about the Season 2 of the show.
The review embargo for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was lifted today and reviews are now coming in fast. The reviews have been generally positive, praising the epic feel and production, with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 93%.
Here’s a growing list of reviews (and spoilers):
Many predicted Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequel would be a disaster. It isn’t.
Prime Video’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is a unique take, telling something of its own story using a distant time period of the lore that Tolkien mostly laid out in broad strokes. It’s a bold approach, and here fortune has favored it. The two-episode premiere marks a strong start, with breathtaking cinematography, excellent acting, and a story that – after a somewhat labored set-up – shows some serious promise and intrigue.
There are ways to do a prequel, and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power does them all wrong. It takes six or seven things everyone remembers from the famous movie trilogy, adds a water tank, makes nobody fun, teases mysteries that aren’t mysteries, and sends the best character on a pointless detour.
This is TV that is made for big screens, although surely destined to be watched on smaller ones. It is so cinematic and grand that it makes House of the Dragon look as if it has been cobbled together on Minecraft.
It’s technically impressive, reasonably ambitious, packed with Easter eggs that I’m certain I’m not versed enough to get and, with my interest in different plotlines already varying wildly, it could fall off a precarious cliff at any moment.
I came to this series a skeptic, but after watching the first two episodes, I walk away a believer. What showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne have created is something simply staggering in scope and scale, in raw beauty and magnificence. It is nothing short of a masterpiece—and a welcome return to Tolkien’s legenderium.
Having invested hundreds of millions in mounting a series version of “The Lord of the Rings,” Amazon has gotten its money’s worth in production values but not storytelling, with a handsome prequel that could leave all but the most devoted Hobbits feeling more bored than lord.
Rings of Power is not just good, it’s great: a gorgeously immersive and grandly ambitious spectacle packed with stunning imagery and compelling plot threads. Most importantly, it captures the same sense of awe we felt while watching the Lord of the Rings movies — one we don’t often get to experience on the small screen.
It’s a series that wants dearly to set itself apart as a fresh take on the material, right down to setting itself an entire age before the adventures of Frodo Baggins and his Fellowship. But it also does everything it can to stir our nostalgia for the Jackson films, from costume to music to overall design, which can occasionally make it like a store-brand version of the same.
Though the eight-part debut season portends an imminent war between Elves and orcs — with Dwarves, humans and a precursor to the Hobbit race called the Harfoots in the mix — the copious and choppily edited action in the first two episodes (those screened for critics) is bloodless and computer-effects-driven.
By now you may be wanting to know what The Rings of Power is about. In a way, I feel the same. The first two episodes of the show are full of exposition, unhurried table setting and character introductions but not much else.
On the one hand, The Rings of Power’s unwavering focus on its heroes allows the show to truly spotlight several of its strongest cast members. Clark shines as a version of Galadriel who is more battle-hardened and outwardly headstrong than the older, wiser, and more ethereal iteration Cate Blanchett famously played in Peter Jackson’s movies. Owain Arthur nearly steals the show with his likable, charismatic turn as Durin IV, the dwarven prince of Khazad-dûm.
On the other hand, the lack of a major antagonist in The Rings of Power’s opening installments creates an unfortunate sense of waywardness. At times, the show’s disparate storylines feel like they are only connected by the vague notion that evil may be just around the corner. Consequently, there are moments — especially in The Rings of Power’s second episode — when the series’ continent-spanning structure feels frustratingly unwieldy.
This first quarter of the season is almost entirely setup for what is to follow, so it’s hard to render much of a verdict on the series from relatively unknown showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, who have contributed to movies including “Star Trek Beyond” and “Jungle Cruise.” Through two hours — both nicely directed by the talented J.A. Bayona (“The Impossible,” “A Monster Calls”) — “The Rings of Power” is intriguing but not quite engrossing.
The Fellowship of the Ring is a big influence here, and the characters go off on quests to investigate strange occurrences in the land while dark rumors from the previous war start to circulate again. The episodes do a commendable job of not only showing the enormity of the world and its history, but also giving the feeling of dread weighing down as the clues begin to be revealed.
Adjectives like “bold” and “ambitious” are par for the course when it comes to this franchise, and they absolutely apply to what we’ve seen so far of the show.
Two episodes in, the world-building is just as stunning and intricate as you could hope for. It’s the kind of show that deserves to be seen on the big screen instead of your phone, but that’s not going to stop fans from visiting Middle-earth via a six-inch display
…first-time showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay are content to take their time establishing the characters and laying the groundwork for what’s to come in a measured and deliberate way instead of giving viewers a taste of something and then jumping ahead years into the future by the next episode.
There are great performances throughout, including Clark as a Galadriel, who dances much closer to the darkness than one might expect from the future Lady of Lorien. There’s strong chemistry between Clark and Robert Aramayo as Galadriel’s friend Elrond, who at this point is but an ambitious young politician. However, the dwarves — Owain Arthur as Durin and Sohpie Nomvete as Disa — make the strongest impression.
From the tempestuous Sundering Seas to the glorious halls of the dwarven kings, each location is richly created. It’s clear how much of the budget went into making these places look as magical as imagined. On top of that, composer Bear McCreary’s soundtrack plays off the familiar tunes of Howard Shore’s iconic soundtrack and instantly tugs at the heartstrings of anyone who would find themselves affected by the music of Middle-earth.