The Rings of Power - The Beginning
I've been waiting all year for this.
Avoiding all the promotional material and videos, publicity, and the (often right-wing) nastiness that has erupted online over race and ethos, creed and core values. I don't believe the latter has any place in Middle Earth, and I'm pretty sure Tolkien himself would not approve, but this post is not about that.
In preparation I have reread much of 'Lord of the Rings', finally finished, understood, and thoroughly enjoyed (at 53) 'The Silmarillion', and dusted myself in the bleak colours of 'The Children of Húrin'. I'm ready for a new adventure. I've cleared my mind - accepting that some of lore and facts I will know, whilst welcoming the knowledge that there'll be a lot of new material and characters inspired by an original storyline that opens up a new chapter in Middle Earth - and this post is simply about my initial thoughts and feelings on watching the opening three episodes.
And how I have waited.
An age, it seems.
I'm on at least my sixth watch of the first three episodes and I'm falling in love with it.
The beauty of the sets and scenery, attention to detail of costume, landscape, race and mythos of each - Easter Eggs of what is to come for those who know Tolkien - hidden in plain sight, is wonderful to see. I cheer when I spot them. Grin stupid like the inner child that is and applaud the writers, filmmakers, special effects, actors and all involved at Amazon Prime. I've also approached The Rings of Power with an open-mind (important as already mentioned, relative to both characters and storyline). It's the best way, I feel, as it provides a blank canvas on which to enjoy the story as it unfolds, and up to this point I've thoroughly enjoyed it.
I've fallen in love with the Dwarfs, with Durin and Disa (to purists who think she doesn't have have a beard, look again through a manicurists lens), and the Harfoots are a wonderful, refreshing new addition as the nomadic ancestors of Hobbits. I particularly love their ability to disappear at a moments notice (wonderfully done when Nori's friend stumbles into the Grove). In vivid contrast to the nomadic Harfoots, Númenor captures the wealth, magnificence, and wonder of an island nation governed by the sea - a civilisation at its lofty zenith, and I look forward to seeing more of this explored. Orcs are suitably evil, so much the better for not being CGI. They are ugly and cruel, horrifying in the first instance in Bronwyn's cottage, and building on that in episode 3 as they tunnel and quarry using captured thralls. So far the CGI monsters been suitably awesome - dragons at battle, wyrms at sea, and a troll - though I do admit to laughing at the Warg (kinda figured it looked like a mad, tortured-cruel hyena and so forgave it).
So too are the differences between Men noticed by Galadriel, something I feel will be explored and understood the more as the story progresses. Elves have perhaps been the hardest to portray. Immortality is a difficult concept in film - but I think it's getting there. Getting across their arrogance, aloofness and (dare I say) lack of thought for other races (associated with longevity) without alienating the audience (many of whom will be new and might not understand) is a tough ask, but I think it's getting there. Certainly, with regards the Elves, I thought the crossing to Valinor was handled brilliantly - a difficult concept admirably managed.
So well done on that!
But it's not all been plain sailing on a good wind.
There have been a couple of bits that stutter.
Some of the dialogue seems a tad wooden, perhaps as we and the actors come to grips with the characters, but so too perhaps a way of the Elves (time will tell). I also thought a couple of instances of weapon-handling seemed ropey, especially given the high level of expertise and use we've come to expect after watching Game of Thrones (and strangely not when fighting was occurring). Oh, and what really bugged me was the seemingly sudden, unescorted appearance of Elrond and Celebrimbor at the doors of Khazad-dûm; this seemed completely wrong, poorly cut, and perhaps left on the editing room's floor?
When all is said and done,
I'm really impressed.
And I can't wait for the rest of the adventure...
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