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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

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What it’s about:

Set thousands of years before The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings (LOTR) in the Second Age of Middle-earth’s history, Rings of Power tells the story of the history and politics of Middle-earth after the brutal war with Morgoth, and the quests of dwarves, elves and men to rebuild and thrive in the aftermath as they prepare to confront the reemergence of an evil force.

Names you might know:

Robert Aramayo (Elfond) is known for his role in Game of Thrones. Cynthia Addai-Robinson from the Starz series Spartacus. Morfydd Clark was in His Dark Materials. Nazanin Boniadi is from Hotel Mumbai.

Why it’s worth your time:

I am excited to say Power of the Rings is worth your time, especially for fans of the Peter Jackson film series. The first episode is a little slow, but it’s needed for the sake of establishing the world and its context, and especially the characters and their back stories.  There are multiple layers for each that will undoubtedly play in role in their conflicts, journeys, and decisions.

Big themes are also established early, including the distrust between each species, a theme that was prevalent in the Peter Jackson universe. The Harfoots, in particular, are introduced as fearful and mistrusting of humans.

I have to applaud the cast for the acting in the series, with the standouts being Morfydd Clark for her stoic and revenge-driven portrayal of Galadriel.  She is not only battle-tested, she is a complete badass, fearing no enemy.

Another stand-out is Owain Arthur as Prince Durin IV, capturing the gruff and fight-ready personality of a Dwarf while countering it with a vulnerable conversation with Elrond (Robert Aramayo). Arthur’s portrayal gave the character depth with limited screen time, while reminding me of the Dwarf, Gimili, who was prominent in the Lord of the Rings films.

The show makes use of its huge budget and CGI, from the massive scope and scale of the vivid worlds to the larger than life creatures. Among the most stunning sets is Lindor, which is depicted as heavenly with streaming light, lush forests and saturated landscapes.

Paired with the costume design, the sets make you feel that some of worlds of Middle-earth might actually exist. From the woodsy, grimy look of the Harfoots world to the more polished lifestyle of the elves, there’s an authenticity that you’re not expecting.  Yet there are also great contrasts — between the celestial world of Lindor and the barbaric land of the Orcs, who look horrifying, even more so than the ones in the films.

There are one too many fight scenes, but when the enemies clash, from an epic battle between the elves and the orcs to Galadriel’s fight with a giant snow troll, they grip you with their choreography. The camera angles, stunt work, and effects add up to create an immersive experience.

I credit the writers for developing a cold open that lures you into the episodes while ending with cliffhangers that have you wanting more. It’s not easy getting a viewer to care about a wide range of characters and wonder what will happen next, especially in just one or two episodes. But Rings of Power leaves you with curiosity and questions. From the ambitious scope to all new characters and the meticulous details, the series will have dedicated fans tuning in and bringing new viewers into this version of the Tolkien universe.

The takeaway:

A prequel that stays true to the tone and language of Tolkien, Power of the Rings delivers a new and transporting take on Middle-earth that will appeal to Lord of the Rings fans as well as newcomers up for an immersive new fantasy adventure.

Watch it with:

With a TV-14 rating and a franchise that spans multiple generations, this is a great family watch.  Of course, Tolkien fans will appreciate the Easter eggs and comparing contrasting the characters from the films and the series.

Worth noting:

Listen for the familiar epic sound of award-winning composer Howard Shore, who also scored The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies. He has written new music for the Rings of Power.

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