Return to Middle-earth in The Rings of Power


Courtesy of Prime Video

Morfydd Clark (Galadriel) courtesy of Prime Video

Meaghan Walsh, Staff Writer, Layout Editor

After almost a year after the debut teaser trailer during the third quarter of Super Bowl LVI, Prime Video finally released the first two episodes of its most anticipated new series of 2022, “The Rings of Power”. It’s a new television series based on J.R.R Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings” and its many appendices, telling largely untold stories only seen through flashes and montages. 

In 2017, Amazon bought the television rights to “The Lord of the Rings”, making a five-season production commitment. Part of this agreement with the Tolkien estate was that the show would not be a continuation of “The Hobbit” or “The Lord of the Rings” trilogies. “The Rings of Power” takes viewers thousands of years back in time to Middle-earth’s Second Age, an era in which great powers were forged, and kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin.

At first, fans were unsure. Some of the initial teaser trailers were widely regarded as ‘underwhelming’. Amazon specifically had planned a free-to-play MMO video game for “The Lord of the Rings” but they ended up axing it. There were also “The Hobbit” movies, which fans still have many mixed feelings about to this day. All of this created the perfect storm for fans to be skeptical of this new adventure in Middle-earth. 

There was additional backlash in regard to the show’s casting. Trolls of the online variety attacked the studio for its multicultural cast. There was also upset at the fact that a dwarf princess existed. Many others online found this to be vapid nonsense and pushed back. Executive producer Lindsey Weber noted in a Vanity Fair article that this hatred disregarded Tolkien’s unilateral messaging of unity, and that “Tolkien is for everybody.”

Regardless of anything surrounding the show before its release, 25 million viewers streamed “The Rings of Power” within the first 24 hours of its release. So far, “The Rings of Power” has received generally positive reviews from critics, who are praising the plot, visuals, and cinematography. 

In the show, we get to see and follow some familiar faces, such as Galadriel and Elrond (albeit much younger), and finally get to see some civilizations only written about brought to life on screen. The show begins in Valinor, a land where elves live in eternal bliss. Later on in the show we travel to Númenor, the breathtaking island kingdom of Men.

There was clearly a lot of thought and care put into the visuals of “The Rings of Power”. “The Rings of Power” continues the franchise’s tradition of incredible visuals; sets, costumes, and VFX are all stunning. Everything combined allows the show to retain much of the charm of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, while still feeling like a completely separate show set in a different age. Phenomenal slow-motion scenes keep eyes glued to the screen, even if all that’s happening is Galadriel riding a horse on the beach.

Thus far, “The Rings of Power” is, in almost every regard possible, a love letter to Tolkien. If you love Middle-earth and everything Tolkien, and you have the ability, this show is a must-watch for this year. I can only hope this will age well.