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Amazon buys up Middle-earth, it searches the One Ring! (Rings of Power news thread)


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I'm with @Nick1Ø66 in that the tenor of the reviews matters less than what they have to say. I find the reviews that wax lyrical to be more out-of-step with my tastes than those that are more lukewarm speak more to potential snares I forsee in the show. For instance, this is a pretty damning thing from Polygon:

 

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Sinister, soul-corrupting McGuffins? Check. Forbidden interspecies love? Check. Hobbits swept up in world-changing events, the full significance of which fly well over their 3-foot-6-inch-high heads? Check. We’ve seen it all before, and frankly, seen it done better, too — especially the scenes involving the Harfoots — so why aren’t we diving into some other, unexplored corner of Middle-earth lore instead?
[...]

For the most part, Payne and McKay follow the Tolkien playbook to the letter, fashioning the story primarily from tried and true Middle-earth tropes such as solemn council sessions, moody dungeon crawling, and folksy pastoral hijinks. Admittedly, these are all ingredients the show was bound to include, if for no other reason than that fans are expecting to see them. But they’re so conceptually safe rather than daring, and executionally pedestrian rather than poetic, that it’s hard for us to get too excited.

[...]

The other “tell” that The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power isn’t quite as keyed into Tolkien as it is modern TV are the various “mystery box”-style narrative devices. To be honest, these all feel alien to Middle-earth — especially the meteor man, and the Sauron sigil and sword. It’s not that Tolkien completely eschewed any form of mystery in his storytelling; as originally written, the Balrog’s arrival in The Fellowship of the Ring was all about clues and suspense. But he didn’t trade in dangling unanswered plot points, preferring instead to build his narratives around clearly defined goals like “kill dragon” or “destroy magic ring.”

 

I'm willing to keep an open mind: some of my very favourite films are ones I was extremly skeptical about going in.

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4 hours ago, Chen G. said:

I'm willing to keep an open mind

 

If I'm honest, I can't really say I'm keeping an open mind. Given what we already know, I just don't see how it can succeed as an adaptation of Tolkien...no matter how well it succeeds, or fails, as generic TV fantasy (and by that score it may be great) as Tolkien, it's mostly going to be expensive fan fiction. 

 

And even if it's brilliant as generic TV fantasy, the fact that they're calling it Tolkien makes me vaguely uneasy. But Tolkien has been subsumed by pop culture now, and there's really nothing to be done about it. 

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Strikes me that it's best to see these movies/show as 'inspired by', instead of actual adaptations.

 

No show intended for mass appeal is going to have the strict literary detail to please hardcode Tolkien scholars.

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11 minutes ago, Richard Penna said:

Strikes me that it's best to see these movies/show as 'inspired by', instead of actual adaptations.

 

No show intended for mass appeal is going to have the strict literary detail to please hardcode Tolkien scholars.

Especially when it is based on a very limited amount of Tolkien's actual writings. Pleasing hardcore Tolkien scholars among us would be easier  if they actually had based the show extensively on Tolkien's texts and actually honored the author's work and not written mostly fan fiction.

 

This show seems to be mostly very loosely inspired by Tolkien.

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9 minutes ago, Richard Penna said:

No show intended for mass appeal is going to have the strict literary detail to please hardcode Tolkien scholars.

That's no reason to not even try and just go against the spirit of his world and characters wrapped in a generic modern fantasy and LotR film trilogy soft remake.

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Matches one of my most prevalent concerns, which is that being based on only the appendices set this show up to be essentially incapable of succeeding as a Tolkien adaption. (Hopefully it can still manage to be a good show though.)

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I just don't think the material is well-suited for weekly TV.  What was its strength as three films in the cinema...archetypal characters, spectacular settings, straight forward good vs. evil plot. etc, isn't enough, IMO, to make for a compelling modern show. Tolkien just doesn't have those sensibilities. People became addicted to Game of Thrones not because of dragons & white walkers, but because of the complex characters and compelling drama. People loved Tyrion's quips, Cersei's scheming, family drama, etc.  In fact, the last season of GOT had the biggest budget and most spectacular scenes, and it's widely regarded as the worst.  All the best modern TV is character driven, and there's just no way this show can have that, at least and stay true to Tolkien. 

 

 

 

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Having watched the episodes last night, I think that this piece is a bit unfair. Don't get me wrong, this is expensive fan fiction through and through but (imo) it's tastefully done. They match the tone and rhythms established by PJ & co (more LOTR than Hobbit, but obviously not matching the former). If you go into this with an open mind... you might enjoy it for what it is: a love letter to the mythology and a chance to see exceptional artists interpret this world, nothing more. 

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Fair. Each Tolkien fan has their line in the sand that they won't cross. I respect that. For me, I have always held the books far away from the "adaptations." PJ's films consistently stray wildly off the path but I still love them. This series is an even further departure from the lore (in the sense they have to 'connect the dots') but the tone and writing presented thus far feels respectful. I don't agree with all of their choices but that's to be expected. "Adapting" the second age was always going to require wild swings from the artists involved. 

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1 hour ago, TolkienSS said:

"Appreciate it for what it is" is one of the biggest cop-out arguments ever.

 

I need things to appreciate in order to appreciate what they are

2 hours ago, Nick1Ø66 said:

I just don't think the material is well-suited for weekly TV.  What was its strength as three films in the cinema...archetypal characters, spectacular settings, straight forward good vs. evil plot. etc, isn't enough, IMO, to make for a compelling modern show. Tolkien just doesn't have those sensibilities. People became addicted to Game of Thrones not because of dragons & white walkers, but because of the complex characters and compelling drama. People loved Tyrion's quips, Cersei's scheming, family drama, etc.  In fact, the last season of GOT had the biggest budget and most spectacular scenes, and it's widely regarded as the worst.  All the best modern TV is character driven, and there's just no way this show can have that, at least and stay true to Tolkien. 

 

 

 

 

Following this argument, i think they've planned to make it too long, and to invent too many characters to develop instead of writing complicated fanfic about the existing characters

3 hours ago, Incanus said:

Especially when it is based on a very limited amount of Tolkien's actual writings. Pleasing hardcore Tolkien scholars among us would be easier  if they actually had based the show extensively on Tolkien's texts and actually honored the author's work and not written mostly fan fiction.

 

This show seems to be mostly very loosely inspired by Tolkien.

 

It would still be fanfiction if they did that!

11 hours ago, Incanus said:

Exactly!

 

A decision made even easier by the fact I don't have an Amazon streaming service subscription in the first place. ;) 

 

I don't have any of them to be honest. Nor Spotify. I'm a frugal person who can torrent and has picky and annoying tastes lmao

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1 hour ago, TolkienSS said:

"Appreciate it for what it is" is one of the biggest cop-out arguments ever.

 

I loved the Potter books but was disappointed by the first couple of films. I still appreciate them for what they are because it must be extraordinarily difficult to make a film or show out of such beloved source.

 

Hence it's not a cop-out. It's a realistic interpretation of making a show that tries to do something with beloved material and appeal to a wide audience.

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15 hours ago, Brónach said:

 

This is the most annoying concept i've read all week

 

Yep. Rather than compelling characters and strong writing (have any of the reviews praised those things?) we've fallen back on the mystery box.

 

Which is ironic given that the show is supposedly based on pre-existing source material, and there should be no mysteries to box. There's a reason Gandalf featured in the Two Towers Trailer after "dying" in FOTR. Trying to pretend that was a secret would have been...stupid.

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19 hours ago, Romão said:

Tolkien would've hated this sort of "expansion", to put it mildly, of his writings. It's ethically and artistically wrong.

 

Here is a remark by Tolkien, as quoted in Humphrey Carpenter's biography, regarding his early conception of the nature of his work:

 

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The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.

 

He later concluded that his plans were absurd in their ambition, but that last phrase demonstrates that he was open, in principle, to the notion of other artists building upon his own material.

 

 

19 hours ago, Romão said:

Nothing was added to just create a false sense of depth and fake historicity.

 

Creating a false sense of depth and fake historicity was fundamental to Tolkien's style. He himself noted that this was one of the attractions of The Lord of the Rings, and he had reservations about fleshing such things out in the Appendices on the grounds that doing so could destroy the effect - unless a further layer of fake history was hinted at to preserve the sense of depth.

 

 

On 01/09/2022 at 1:46 PM, Nick1Ø66 said:

...the fact that they're calling it Tolkien makes me vaguely uneasy. But Tolkien has been subsumed by pop culture now, and there's really nothing to be done about it. 

 

Seeing Tolkien's name in the credits of Jackson's films creates a feeling of cognitive dissonance in me...

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21 minutes ago, Nick1Ø66 said:

He wasn't talking about fan fiction, and it's debatable if he was even referring to Middle-Earth as it became to be at all.

 

It really doesn't matter, insofar as the point I was making is concerned, at what stage in the development of his mythology he expressed this, or whether he changed his mind later, or whether he only had certain media in mind. To say that it is ethically wrong to expand upon work created by someone else is a strong claim, wrong in general, and (although Tolkien isn't the arbiter of its truth) one which he explicitly contradicted at at least one point. The question of whether a derivative work is ethical must be addressed on a case by case basis, rather than answered in the negative on general principle. In this case, since the author is long dead and since the Amazon people have the legal rights, the ethical case against them is, at the very least, a difficult one. Criticism of the show's artistic merits, or lack thereof, should be an easier job.

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1 hour ago, Nick1Ø66 said:

And let's remember he only sold the film rights b/c he needed the money...

 

Sure, but I probably feel less sympathy on that count. He wanted the money more than he wanted the rights!

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36 minutes ago, Glóin the Dark said:

It really doesn't matter, insofar as the point I was making is concerned, at what stage in the development of his mythology he expressed this, or whether he changed his mind later, or whether he only had certain media in mind.

 

Well I don't know. When he was sort of just trying to create a generalized "mythology for England" (an idea which he ultimately abandoned), I think he might have been fine with others contributing to it. But when it came to his life's work, i.e. The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and in particular The Silmarillion...I'm not so sure about that.

 

My own guess it Tolkien was probably just speaking generously at that moment about something he gave up on as "absurd". But given everything we know about how protective of his world he was, I'm thinking he was more of "don't fuss in my garden" (British for "get off my lawn") kind of man than inviting all the neighborhood kids to play in the pool.

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18 minutes ago, Nick1Ø66 said:

But when it came to his life's work, i.e. The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and in particular The Silmarillion...I'm not so sure about that.

 

Absolutely...I agree that he would have been protective of what he could, and mercilessly critical about the treatment of the parts that he'd sold off.

 

I wonder what he would have thought about people tampering with his work long after his own death. Presumably, for most artists, there comes a point at which it would be nice just to be remembered...

 

[I'm thinking in terms of centuries here, at least in Tolkien's case.]

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Ouch.

 

Quote

Prime Video announced that the premiere of its highly touted (and expensive) prequel series, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” was viewed by 25 million people — tops for any Amazon original content.

 

Now new data from Samba TV suggests the “Rings” bow, while good, was not as spectacular as hyped.

Indeed, 1.8 million U.S. households watched “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” episode 1 on Prime Video during the L+3D (Sept. 1-4) window. Another 1.3 million U.S. households watched episode 2 during the L+3D window. The series’ debut marked Prime Video’s highest three-day viewership of any 2022 premiere on the platform.

 

Yet, the debut of Netflix’s “Stranger Things”, season 4, volume 1, episode 1 generated 2.9 million U.S. households. And the debut of “Obi-Wan Kenobi” (Disney+), episode 1 saw 2.1 million U.S. households tune in.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I wonder why they waited so long to start production? This schedule of a rushed 8 episode season followed by two years of waiting is not going to play well.

According to this, filming was supposed to start earlier this year while they were in pre-production for season 1

https://deadline.com/2021/08/the-lord-of-the-rings-season-2-move-production-uk-new-zealand-1234813857/

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