Amazon’s vilification of J.R.R. has earned it a bad reputation like few other television shows. Tolkien’s work is known as “The Rings of Power”.
The lambasting began once fans of Tolkien’s works started to learn about what was happening during the production of the series, which Amazon had spent approximately a billion dollars to produce. Amazon decided to bring insane amounts of modernity to Middle Earth, with diversity quotas and mishandling beloved characters. They also rewrote established lore.
One article even pointed out that Amazon has diversity officers who oversee production to ensure that it is diverse enough.
It was not helpful that Amazon was trying to portray its critics as racist bigots. Amazon even tried to launch a super-fan campaign with different videos for different countries. This campaign focused more on representation, diversity, storytelling, and respecting Tolkien’s work than it actually did. These super-fan videos were populated with people who repeated the same lines in different countries. Some of the backlashes against the backlash tried to pin hatred of “Rings of Power”, GamerGate’s boogieman, on GamerGate.
Two episodes have been released to critics, and one major outlet has very little to say.
Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich confirmed many of the concerns that Tolkien lovers had. It’s a boring story, Tolkien has made a mess of his world, and it makes you feel more like McMiddle than the fantasy world that we love and know.
There are many ways to make a prequel. The Lord of the Rings, The Rings of Power is one of them. Six or seven elements from the movie trilogy are used, plus a water tank. It makes no fun, teases mysteries that don’t exist, and sends the most memorable character on a pointless detour. Galadriel, an uber-elf (Morfydd) tells people to be worried about Sauron throughout the premiere. People tell her to forget about Sauron. This is the end of season one. There are seven more hours. Does that sound like a billion bucks?
Franich focuses on Galadriel’s transformation from a queen in garden paradise to a soldier determined to exact revenge on her brother’s death. He describes how only she believes Sauron is back in the lands, and that no one else will believe her. Others appear to be clones of Peter Jackson’s characters. After Galadriel has spoken a prologue, Discount Frodo meets a bearded outsider. The trip to an underground cavern made by dwarfs fails to impress.
There are also what appear to be allusions to modern racism. These refer to a forbidden love between an elf, and a human.
Rings of Power makes it a habit to diversify its fictional races. This casting decision is thankfully common in contemporary fantasy. This series, however, isn’t as serious about fantasy-world racism as House of the Dragon. Arondir is not liked by humans. The Harfoots are afraid of everyone else. Galadriel asks Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), a jerky human fleeing a past of violence, “What have elves done to you?”
Also, the producers and writers lack vision. Franich claims that Tolkien’s world may be as rich as it is. We’d rather be whisked away to places we’ve never seen… but we don’t get that.
It would be strange for a novel to want to discover the unexplored lands of Tolkien. In two ways Rings of Power conjures Valinor, the elves’ previously unknown homeland, in a way that is quite embarrassing. It’s a flowing stream where adorable children play. It’s then a heavenly light beam that pours out of the parting clouds. This is almost a Monty Python effect. And that’s before anyone decides to swim across the ocean, contrary to all fantasy logic. The first two hours are spent in boring places and never-before-seen situations.
Franich gives the show a C- grade for his review, which also mentions inconsistency and pacing problems.
It is unlikely that Amazon will make a profit from this venture. The more we hear about the matter, the less it seems like it merits it. It’s unlikely that Entertainment Weekly, a site that actually promoted the show through a flashy advertising campaign, will have much to say about it.
It will be a fight, but the fans usually win. The fans are not signing up to support this.