The rollout of the Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power TV series has re-energized Middle-earth fandom, and one thing is clear, we all love to get together, online, at conventions, and at the theater and talk Tolkien.
The Baggins Birthday Bash, coming to Los Angeles at 11:30am on September 24 at Griffith Park’s Mineral Wells picnic area is the perfect way for SoCal Tolkien fans to gather and party like Hobbits. There will be games, there will be food, there will be plenty of Tolkien discussion going on, and I’m sure we can fit some fun in there somewhere.
Regarding food, in the before times it was a big buffet, and last year, we decided to ask everyone to just bring enough food and drink for their own party. This year, it will probably end up being a bit of a hybrid. Some will just bring what they want to eat, and a few will bring shareable dishes, and we’ll let the food and drink sort itself out. It would be nice if some folks bring extra picnic plates and cups, maybe some paper towels, and of course, everyone should bring a portable chair or blanket and a popup if you have it.
We would like to bring back the Cake or Cupcake contest for the best Middle-earth designed desserts. We’ve had some really creative and beautiful designs in the past, so start contemplating now on how to wow your fellow fans this year. Costumes are welcome, as usual, especially any new 2nd Age costumes. If we do trivia, there is a decent chance it will include some references to the Rings of Power show, since the 5th episode will have screened just 2 days before the picnic.
Please do RSVP on our Facebook Event page, located at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1271178800320132/ and read through the About Details, including selecting ‘see more’ to access the directions for those driving from different sections of Southern California in order to get to Griffith Park and the Mineral Wells section of the park.
TORn Tuesday’s co-host Justin flew around the world — at his own expense — to experience the first showings of Prime Video’s huge The Lord of the Rings: The Rings Of Power with fellow fans in NYC and London. Now having seen it twice, after years of the most spoileriffic leaks, here is his review of the first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Prime.
Back in 2002, I sat down in a theater full of fellow Ringers at midnight as an unknown jovial British man with a deep voice walked out to introduce The Two Towers. Andy Serkis had come at the invite of TheOneRing.net to opening night. Nobody knew who he was other than the IMDb credit and 3 seconds of trailer time — and this guy looked & sounded nothing like Gollum. There was also a lot of chatter leading up to the release of The Two Towers that book lovers were terrified of — that the elves had been reassigned from the books to honor the last alliance at Helm’s Deep (ruining Tolkien’s greatest battlefield reunion in The Return of the King). Leaked set pics showed Arwen fighting at Helm’s deep. Jar Jar Binks all-CGI characterization had “ruined” Star Wars, and all-CGI Gollum was ready to ruin Tolkien.
The lights dimmed. The screen showed the familiar landscapes. Then the camera dived INTO the mountain to replay one of the greatest scenes of Fellowship (natch, film history). Oh great, I thought, another film that does “when we last left our heroes” recap. And then the camera follows Gandalf as he falls into battle with Durin’s Bane, as an epic choral music laments their fall into the great chasm. I lept out of my seat! I couldn’t believe a movie had just shown me things I had never seen before, never expected, and a style of storytelling I didn’t think possible. The Two Towers changed my movie going life, and it is still my favorite of the trilogy.
My Rings of Power take after seeing the pilot episodes twice and really diving into the visual details:
Prime Video’s The Rings of Power brings back that feeling of discovery. It changes what television is capable of. It redefines multi-storyline TV. It completely immerses you in Middle-earth from the start, and delivers an incredible storytelling experience that stays true to the tone of Tolkien while necessarily charting a new path.
The Rings of Power finally delivers on Gimli’s promise to the Fellowship that his kin would provide a warm welcome in Moria. We finally see dwarven culture at its pinnacle — a fully realized society that is well-fed, well-worked, and well-machined. These dwarves will feel familiar to Hobbit trilogy fans, with great-looking, practical makeup FX (allegedly supported by Weta Workshop), but it’s the characterizations that really take this culture beyond the comedy of the movies. Fans of deep lore will rewatch the dwarven scenes to spot the many Easter eggs of items lost to time in the books.
All the other lands and races are equally fully realized, even the orc culture. We are all aware of the amount of effort needed to accomplish creative at this level thanks to Peter Jackson’s Appendices. It’s obvious hundreds of top creative talent are collaborating on this show. There is a visible sense of pride in the work from all the details both visual and narratively. This is a billion dollar TV show and it shows. It takes that much support to realize Tolkien’s vast imagination — which is larger in the Second Age than the Third Age seen in the films. The Second Age just has more of everything. More societies. More cities. More arid lands. More areas to explore. More destruction. My biggest fear now is that future seasons of The Rings of Power may not get the same generous budget, knowing what enormous cataclysms are to come.
Writing on the show is peak television at its pinnacle. Prime has assembled an all-star fellowship of writers from the best shows on TV — Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Hannibal, Game of Thrones, and more. Absolutely no characters from the vast collective on this show feel cardboard, short changed, nor one-dimensional. Everyone quickly has motivations created and their place in society established. TV has never seen a character break as bad as Sauron, the lord of all the rings, and the pilot episodes set up the stakes for Middle-earth.
J.A Bayona was absolutely the right director to establish the look and feel of this show. From his water work with The Impossible to the dark tones of Penny Dreadful, Bayona captures the existential dread that Middle-earth may not know is coming. Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay are living our collective fan dream overseeing this massive project. Their imaginations are reaching for the same great heights that JRR Tolkien famously attempted, yet still under the guardrails and guidelines he established. Tolkien envisioned filmmakers expanding his Legendarium with his “other minds and hands, wielding paint and music & drama” and these guys are up to the task. Having chatted with them many times over the last six months it’s clear that these other and hands are the right ones to continuing shaping the history of Middle-earth.
Fans may forget that Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings was full of no-name actors. It was Orlando Bloom’s first work, Billy Boyd’s first movie, and the biggest job for the hundreds of longtime kiwi actors. Rings of Power continues that tradition of unveiling top talent on the global stage. These folks are future stars. All the recent discourse of how they look and talk — also things fans also complained about in 2001 — is put to rest the minute the show starts. There is no wink at the camera or in-your-face notice me going on. These performances live in Middle-earth, period. Tolkien’s source text allow for a very expansive visual canon which the filmmakers are developing with the highest of standards. All the fears fans have of this “looking like television” are proven invalid. Better than other space and superhero TV shows, this is Middle-earth looking exactly like it should: the proper continuation of a $6 billion franchise and most-awarded film series of all time.
Even if it’s not a continuation. We have covered the rights situation numerous times over the last 4 years on this site and on YouTube. Testament to loyalty to JRR Tolkien is the involvement of Simon Tolkien (the current elder family stateman) in the production of the show, and no less that 11 living Tolkien relatives showing up to the London premiere. It’s a privilege to have Royd Tolkien a longtime friend of TORn, but to have his family there at The Rings of Power premiere unlocked a feeling I didn’t know this franchise needed: full support of the sub-creator’s legacy, and a proper continuation of his life’s work. There’s a trust in the show there, now, that I didn’t know was missing.
I’m looking forward to the many debates fans will have, and we will have at TheOneRing.net, over the choices made by the filmmakers. I’m reminded of the TORn staff that walked out of The Two Towers theatrical opening, disgusted that Frodo and Sam were at Osgiliath with an unrecognizable Faramir. My favorite film of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings has its detractors and I respect their perspectives, and The Rings Of Power will undoubtedly generate similar debates that can only strengthen our love of Middle-earth. Maybe we should bring back RINGER REVIEWS so all us fans can share our assessment of each of the 50 episodes to come.
As I walked out of that first screening, and now a second one in London, my one word review of Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power two-part pilot remains:
PERFECTION. No Notes.
Huge thanks to all the teams at Prime Video that have supported the fans throughout this journey of creation, for inviting hundreds of fans to these free screenings around the world, for all the support at Comic-Con and DragonCon, and for all the friendly (sometimes intense) conversations as we shared the excitement for this show. Fans are happy to be seen, and will be very happy with the finished product.
Tune in every Tuesday at 8pm ET for TORn Tuesday LIVE with Clifford & Justin, and chat anytime on the TORn Discord at https://discord.gg/theonering
Prime Video Hosts J.R.R. Tolkien Homecoming in London’s Leicester Square for theWorld Premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Ahead of the September 2 Premiere
The highly anticipated Prime Video series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power honoured J.R.R. Tolkien by ending its epic global tour in the United Kingdom with its world premiere in London’s Leicester Square. Prime Video brought nearly 2,000 people—including cast, producers, and fans—into Middle-earth in advance of the series’ September 2 debut.
The London premiere represented the final stop in the series’ five-city world tour that started in Los Angeles and included Mexico City, Mumbai, and New York City before culminating in Tuesday’s historic Leicester Square premiere.
A fully immersive, Ring-shaped carpet took cast, crew, and guests on a narrative journey through five realms of Middle-earth, as they interacted with media and fans on their way into the Odeon Luxe and Cineworld in Leicester Square. The center of the 2,000-foot-long circular carpet was anchored by an exquisitely hand-crafted 40-foot-tall structure representing the five realms depicted in the series: The Elf capital of Lindon; the Dwarven realm of Khazad-dûm; the island kingdom of Númenor; the Southlands, the world of Man; and the Wilderlands, the home of the Harfoots. Five customized lanterns representing the five realms lit the way for cast down the carpet, each with different light sources: Fire and coal for the Dwarves, the Harfoots’ fireflies, Númenor’s oil lamps, the Southlanders’ caged candles, and Elven glow.
A living environment was created with a multitude of plants, grass, moss, vines, and 100 large-scale trees. A multilevel environment, mimicking the mountainous and hilly topography of the world, was created with various levels and vantage points, with greenery that will be repurposed or recycled following the event for future use.
Attending the global premiere were all 22 of the series’ cast regulars: Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Maxim Baldry, Nazanin Boniadi, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Charles Edwards, Trystan Gravelle, Sir Lenny Henry, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Lloyd Owen, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker, Daniel Weyman, and Sara Zwangobani.
Also attending the premiere were showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay; executive producers Lindsey Weber and Callum Greene; directors Wayne Che Yip and Charlotte Brändström; writer and executive producer Justin Doble; series composer Bear McCreary; production designer Ramsey Avery; concept artist John Howe; supervising dialect coach Leith Mcpherson; and casting director Theo Park.
Amazon executives in attendance included Jeff Bezos, Founder & Executive Chairman; Jeff Blackburn, SVP Media & Entertainment; Mike Hopkins, SVP, Prime Video, MGM and Amazon Studios; Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios; Vernon Sanders, Head of Global Television, Amazon Studios; Albert Cheng, COO of Amazon Studios, among others.
The first two episodes of the multi-season drama will launch on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide on Friday, September 2, with new episodes available weekly.
Last night, Prime Video hosted a premiere screening of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power in Mexico City. Many of the cast and crew were on hand along with some lucky Ringers in attendance.
More details from Prime Video’s official press release:
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – On Wednesday, August 17th, Prime Video hosted a Red Carpet and Premiere Screening event in celebration of “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RINGS OF POWER” at Colegio Vizcainas. Over 100 media, core fans and local celebrities and industry partners were thrilled to welcome the cast of THE RINGS OF POWER into the stunning Middle-earth environment constructed in the courtyard of this historic, stately 18th century convent school.
The screening opened with remarks by: Jen Salke, Head of Prime Video, followed by Showrunner Patrick McKay & Episodes 1 & 2 Director JA Bayona who introduced the cast onstage.
Showrunner: Patrick McKay
Director/Executive Producer:JA Bayona
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Charlie Vickers, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Leon Wadham, Morfydd Clark, Owain Arthur, Sophia Nomvete, Trystan Gravelle
Amazon Executives: Jennifer Salke, Kelly Day, Kari Roe, Sue Kroll, Dan Scharf, Joao Ferraz de Mesquita, Pablo Iacovello, Paulo Koelle, Ingrid Auyon Garcia, David Miller
Last night, Prime Video held a premiere celebration for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power in Culver City, California. Making use of their new Culver Studios location (and the next door movie theatre), Prime Video hosted cast and crew with a Middle-earth themed red carpet, complete with drone show. Simon Tolkien, the Professor’s grandson, was also in attendance, along with many of the cast, creators and crew.
Here’s Prime Video’s official press release:
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – On Monday, August 15th, Prime Video hosted a Red Carpet and Premiere Screening event in celebration of “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RINGS OF POWER” at The Culver Studios. Fans and industry alike erupted with excitement as the cast of THE RINGS OF POWER arrived at the beautifully constructed Middle-earth themed red carpet, which was inspired by some of the character costumes seen in the show. The screening opened with remarks by: Jen Salke, Head of Prime Video, followed by Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay.
Afterward, the cast, creators and guests celebrated the series’ premiere at The Culver Studios closing out the night. Guests were surprised when, 45 minutes into the party, a drone show filled the night sky over the Mansion, consisting of images they had seen during the screening of the first two episodes. It opened with the beautiful white paper swan from the opening shot of the series. The drones then morphed into other images including symbolism and iconography from the series before concluding dramatically with the Prime Video logo.
Showrunners: JD Payne and Patrick McKay
Executive Producers:Lindsey Weber
Director/Executive Producer:JA Bayona
Composer: Bear McCreary
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Charles Edwards, Charlie Vickers, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Ema Horvath, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Leon Wadham, Lloyd Owen, Markella Kavenagh, Maxim Baldry, Megan Richards, Morfydd Clark, Nazanin Boniadi, Owain Arthur, Robert Aramayo, Sara Zwangobani, Sophia Nomvete, Trystan Gravelle, Tyroe Muhafidin