The Rings of Power review: A visually splendid slow burn of an epic

Prime Video’s extreme Tolkien extravaganza, The Rings of Power employs nearly 10,000 VFX shots to bring Middle-earth and beyond to the small screen, in an origin story for the titular objects of formidable power.

Story

The Rings of Power series premiere sees a younger Galadriel (than the one fans of LOTR are familiar with) on an unrelenting and unending hunt for the Dark Lord, Sauron.

However, due to her being entirely consumed by the rage she harbours for him, other Elves can’t remain loyal to her like before.

Consequently, Galadriel is sent off to Valinor against her will, with her friend Elrond bidding her a tough farewell as well. Galadriel relents still and dives back into the seas just before the ship sails into Valinor.

The Harfoots (ancestors to the Hobbits) are jovial little beings dedicated to their safety-loving, quietly migrating lifestyle. However, defiance and longing for freedom brew and foster among them, in Elanaor “Nori” Brandyfoot.

One night, a meteorite comes crashing down near the current settlement and Nori heads straight to the crash site, with her dear best friend Poppy tagging along reluctantly. They find that the meteorite is actually a giant man, curled up in a fetal position.

Nori takes great fascination in the Stranger, who seems to speak in a different tongue and has an almost infantile confusion and unease with his surroundings.

He’s also a man of magical powers, and someone Nori believes to have stumbled upon her because of destiny or some purpose.

Meanwhile, Galadriel swims to a great distance in the sea, eventually hopping aboard a piece of floating wood. Atop the decrepit wreckage, she meets a mortal man named Halbrand. The two are eventually picked up by a Numenorean ship captained by Elendil.

In Numenor, Galadriel beckons Queen Regent to send enforcements with her to the Southlands when she finds out that Sauron might be up to something in Middle-earth. Amid initial reluctance and public outrage, Queen Regent finally agrees to Galadriel’s request.

Galadriel, Halbrand, Elendil and his son Isildur, along with Queen Regent and hundreds of Numenoreans sail off to the Southlands.

Meanwhile, Elrond discovers that his Dwarven best friend, Durin IV’s kingdom of Khazad-Dum is rapidly mining a new metal with divinely powerful properties.

Elrond calls it Mithril and requests Durin to mine it more in the wake of recent discoveries that point to an impending wipeout of the entire Elven race. To save themselves, they need Mithril which can counter the darkness and the rot that stands to kill them all.

However, Durin III is stubborn in his stance that he will not lend the Elves a hand as he fears it will only lead to their own doom.

Meanwhile, Galadriel and Numenoreans defeat the orcs and their leader Adar in the Southlands, only to learn that Adar’s plans have been realized.

The gruelling machinations of the Orcs and Adar pays off and the volcano of Orodruin activates, giving rise to the kingdom of Orcs, Mordor. Meanwhile, the Numenoreans return to their kingdom, with considerable casualties and a steadfast spirit to return and defeat the enemy.

Elrond, Celeborn, along with Galadriel and Halbrand observe the forging of rings of power, made possible by the mithril Durin IV gifted Elrond and the gold and silver Galadriel’s dagger was made of.

Three rings of power are forged as Galadriel realizes Halbrand was Sauron all along, with the Dark Lord managing to flee and heading off to Mordor. The Stranger and Nori say goodbyes to the Harfoots and set off on a journey to Rhûn.

Performances

The Rings of Power makes use not just of a stellar portfolio of VFX splendour, but also of its ensemble of talented characters.

There are no faltering parts as far as the acting department goes, with just about everyone in the cast bringing their A-game to the table.

The character portrayals of fan-favourites like Galadriel might throw some people off but only because said characters are written in a manner contrasting to that of previous on-screen portrayals.

Positives

The Rings of Power is an absolute feast for the eyes. Even the frames that don’t contain any action at all are just as engaging and enthralling.

The extravaganza that is this series, there’s more to this eight-episode affair than a merely grandiose depiction of fantastical worlds.

With a cast so rife with new faces, The Rings of Power has hit a homerun with its selection of talents, all managing to effortlessly perform and deliver in front of the camera, especially one capturing such a colossal world of rich fantasy and lore.

Negatives

The Rings of Power can be a slog at times, which is to be expected from an origin story that sets in motion the grand epic that lies ahead.

There are moments where the transition from the LOTR trilogy to The Rings of Power becomes a bit jarring, especially in the writing, which can stray far from Tolkien’s eloquence sometimes.

Verdict

The Rings of Power is true to its marketing and the promise therein; the series has kicked off with a season of the TV so visually stunning, viewers will be gawking at the screen even in moments when the story is stationary.

With a few lagging parts in this extravagant machine, the central cog manages to stay intact and functioning, delivering a coherent story out of a rather difficult source material to adapt.

The Rings of Power
The Rings of Power review: A visually splendid slow burn of an epic 1

Director: Wayne Che Yip, Charlotte Brändström, J. A. Bayona

Date Created: 2022-10-14 09:30

Editor's Rating:
3

Also Read: Who is Celeborn? Galadriel’s husband in The Rings of Power explained