There’s been a lot of hate for Amazon’s new Tolkien inspired fantasy series, The Rings of Power. ‘Rings Of Power’ Is Getting Review Bombed So Hard Amazon Suspended Reviews Entirely. On Rotten Tomatoes, while its critics score is 84%, it has a 36% audience score. This means that the Rotten Tomatoes Audience reviewers actually hated The Rings of Power more than Troll 2 (one of the most hilariously bad movies ever made).
While The Rings of Power is not the best show ever, I was honestly surprised by all the hate. I didn’t think it was Troll 2 bad.
Deciding to investigate, I scanned through about four pages of Rotten Tomatoes reviews. The reviewers said they were angry about bad writing, slow pacing and the drastic change in Galadriel’s character from wise sorceress to elf Rambo. But the biggest complaint of all was that people felt that the show was unfaithful to Tolkien’s source material.
The show itself is based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s appendices. It is produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with Harper Collins and New Line Cinema, in consultation with the Tolkien Estate.
If you think about it, The Ring’s of Power is basically fan fiction. The show writers are using the world building Tolkien provided in his appendices, and populating it with their own plot lines and dialogue. Why? Because they are doing their work based off an appendices, not a written novel with its own dialogue and plot. So it’s just not going to be the same quality as Tolkien. We can’t expect it to be unless they can somehow bring Tolkien back from the dead and make him write it. Maybe if Amazon called the show, Amazon’s $465 Million Tolkien Fan-fiction, people would have been less upset?
If one approaches the show as fan fiction, rather than expecting it to be on the level of Tolkien, one can enjoy the show more.
While I was not blown away by the show, I was entertained enough to keep watching. I think Tolkien’s original theme of good versus evil, and corruption versus nature were intact. The New Zealand landscape was visually stunning, along with the depiction of Númenor. There’s likeable characters. I’m genuinely enjoying the friendship between Nori Brandyfoot and The Stranger (who may be Gandalf). Perhaps what the show writers are setting up is an explanation for Gandalf’s love of little people. I’m also enjoying the humorous exchange between young Elrond and the dwarf, Prince Durin. And I’m genuinely excited to see what the orcs, and their leader, Adar, are going to do next (I find them pretty interesting).
Compared to other fantasy series out there on TV, I think The Rings of Power is not bad. And given that a record breaking 25 MILLION other viewers are watching season 1 along with me, how bad could it really be? I am looking forward to watching more.
I also do think it’s getting better. Even the audience reviews (which are currently almost below freezing) seem to be thawing ever so slightly.
If I had to give The Rings of Power a rating between Valinor and the Southlands, I’d give it a rock solid Khazad-dûm.