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LOTR: Rings of Power


Dolfan in NYC
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First 2 episodes were okay. May take a while for my Tolkien memory bank to kick in. 
 

its interesting so far that the show is full of mostly unknowns. I think the biggest name so far might be Lenny Henry. 

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I enjoyed the first two episodes a lot more than I was expecting. It seems like they took the Lindelof/Watchmen approach of asking themselves “What are the fundamental elements of LOTR” and then remixing those elements into a new story. Between that comfortable familiarity and ALL THE BEZOS MONEY ON THE SCREEN, making this one of the most visually stunning TV shows you’ll ever see (although huge credit to J.A. Bayona for that, too), it was very easy to like this show.

Of course, what made WATCHMEN special was that it used those familiar elements to say something new. And through two episodes, TROP hasn’t revealed if it has anything new to say, or if it’s just the streaming TV version of the JURASSIC WORLD series. I could see myself souring on this over time, if that’s the case.

Edited by EVA
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I have watched the first episode yesterday (I was too tired to watch both). My biggest issue w.r.t. Tolkien-canon is the portrayal of the Elves. Second age Elves should already be close to third age ones, but instead they portrayed them as militarized and human controlling. All things that should have been lost after the first age. Also the protrayal how the Elves see returning to Valinor is really off. In Tolkien, Elves how are weary of the world (well, Middle-earth) "fade" to the west (the Peter Jackson movies actually captured this really well), here it's like Rod and Todd saying "hurray, mama is going to God".

The relationship between Galadriel and Elrond also does not perfectly fit. Tolkien never gave a timeline, but Galadriel should be more or less married to Celeborn and have a daughter that should eventually marry Elrond (and leave for Valinor somewhen in the third age). Here they are close to shipping them. Galadriel feels off anyway, w.r.t. wisdom and power, she should be among the top four of all Elves in Middle-earth (only rivals being Gil-galad, Cirdan and Celebrimbor), but she seemed more like a young rascal trying to defy the order of things.

I also noticed that they were extra careful to use as few names as possible. For example, Finrod was always just called "brother" and Gil-galad "king" (the second thing will change). I think in the first half hour, there were exactly five names used: Galadriel, Elrond, Nori, Morgoth and Sauron.

On having Hobbits, I will wait and see before I decide if I like of dislike their inclusion. Obviously, Nori will play a role similar to Merry and Pippin, discovering the world alongside the viewer.

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It’s an interesting trend in streaming shows to release a couple of episodes from the outset.  Having seen that choice made a few times now, I can see why.  Especially, with a new untested show.  
 

If those eps are all character/story table setting.  Then I say go for it.  The Peter Jackson movies were a generation ago.  No doubt there are people checking this out who know nothing of the movies or source material.  This is largely a good thing.  

I’ve enjoyed these much more than I thought I would.  Which seems like a common reaction.  But I have to wonder if my perspective isn’t skewed because there was a fuck ton of negative bullshit on YouTube doing everything they could to torpedo the show before anyone had even seen it.

But hey!  It’s not bad at all!  The actors seem comfortable in their roles and are well directed.  The production values are top notch and seamless with prior productions.  
 

I’m still trying to catch up on names.  So it’s still “Hot Single Mom” “Hot Single Moms Elf boyfriend” “Big Eyes Lady” and “Hunky Raft Fellow”.  Galadriel.

I’ll get it eventually. Good times.  

 

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It's been twenty years since I've read the Silmarillion. I spent the both episodes the same way I tend to watch all of those Starz Phillipa Gregory shows with my wife, looking at wikis on my my phone trying to figure out who everyone is and how it all connects to things that happened hundreds or thousands of years before. So I caught all the dialogue and what happened, missed most of the visuals, and now know a lot about Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs. Anyway, I'm enjoying it.

Edited by Matt D
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Underrated aspect of the show: They did a great job casting a ton of really unique faces. Not very many generic pretty faces(although, make no mistake, everybody is very pretty and always gorgeously lit). That’s so important for a show with such a sprawling scope, where you’re jumping around so much that it can be challenging to recall names or what everybody’s character is about. They used to call those faces “instant characters” in the TV business. 
 

That’s something that not even Game of Thrones did particularly well. I still remember somebody on this board once saying that every dude on the Nigh’s Watch looked like Edgar Wright, because is was SO true.

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I have watched the second episode yesterday and don't have much to add to my thoughts of the first episode. Some choices are interesting like Celebrimbor mentioning the name Feanor, the Silmarils and the theft of the Silmarils by Morgoth but not the stuff that would be quite relevant to the backstory like Celebrimbor being Feanor's grandson or the theft of the Silmarils being the reason of the flight of the Noldor and the war against Morgoth.

It's also remarkable that at least for the first season, they seem to concentrate on Middle-earth, not having introduced Numenor as far (I guess the ship that rescued Galadriel is Numenorean, probably lead by Isildur?). Obviously, Middle-earth gives them much more freedom w.r.t. source material, though in the Silmarillion (the Akallabeth, to be precise), Numenor is ruling all those human domains of Middle-earth towards the end of the second age. I guess they chose to portray Numenor is being isolationist like they were earlier in the second age. But let's see.

The whole giant stranger thing is weird so far. I doubt (and hope not) that this turns out to be Sauron, but I also don't see what other way they could go. It could be an Istari (wizard), but this would be somewhat against the chronology of Tolkien (they only came to Middle-earth in the third age).

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He’s clearly coded as a wizard within the story, from his Gandalf-like appearance, to the communicating with insects, to his (literally) dropping in on small folk leading to them going on a quest, etc.

Perhaps he’s some kind of forerunner of wizards, in the same way Harfoots are forerunners of Hobbits. Or perhaps they’re taking liberties with one of the other wizards alluded to in the books but who didn’t appear on the page.

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One of the things I’ve appreciated about the shoe thus far is the way it has avoided Thrones-ifying Tolkien. In the second episode, two of the four story threads are about showing kindness to strangers and old friends amicably resolving a dispute. The vibes are correct.

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1 hour ago, EVA said:

One of the things I’ve appreciated about the shoe thus far is the way it has avoided Thrones-ifying Tolkien. In the second episode, two of the four story threads are about showing kindness to strangers and old friends amicably resolving a dispute. The vibes are correct.

They certainly had the chance for some gratuitous nudity and didnt do it. 

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7 hours ago, Robert s said:

The whole giant stranger thing is weird so far. I doubt (and hope not) that this turns out to be Sauron, but I also don't see what other way they could go. It could be an Istari (wizard), but this would be somewhat against the chronology of Tolkien (they only came to Middle-earth in the third age).

Apparently (lots of wiki reading), Tolkien amended this later on so that the two Blue Wizards show up right around the forging of the one ring in the second age. Would be weird for them to appear separately though.

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On 9/3/2022 at 9:21 AM, EVA said:

Underrated aspect of the show: They did a great job casting a ton of really unique faces. Not very many generic pretty faces(although, make no mistake, everybody is very pretty and always gorgeously lit). That’s so important for a show with such a sprawling scope, where you’re jumping around so much that it can be challenging to recall names or what everybody’s character is about. They used to call those faces “instant characters” in the TV business. 
 

That’s something that not even Game of Thrones did particularly well. I still remember somebody on this board once saying that every dude on the Nigh’s Watch looked like Edgar Wright, because is was SO true.

Not only did they do a great job casting a ton of really unique faces, they did an even better job of matching them up.  During the 2nd episode, I was trying to figure out if the Harfoots had a common feature, but they don't.  They just seem similar in a way that isn't forced, but totally fits.  I liked both episodes a lot, but the casting is the thing that stands out the most.  In order for a show like this to be successful, the world has to be filled with people who feel like they belong, and they've nailed that.  Unfortunately, it is the part of the show that has got the most criticism from assholes on the internet, but it has been great.  

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So it's obvious that what they're doing is taking every meaningful character/plot point from the second age and having everything basically happen at once because otherwise it'd span too many years/characters. But this is thousands of years of stuff and it's insane.

The best way to think of the show is taking it as Radagast explaining the second age to a bunch of squirrels while high thousands of years later. Unreliable narrator.

 

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There was one tiny thing this episode that really pissed me off: having blood on the camera lens during the Halbrand fight scene. I hate this technique, that's some breaking-the-fourth-wall shit. There were also some very graphic scenes (like the breaking of the arm during said fight scene and the elf getting his throat slashed) that was more violent than necessary. That's exactly the kind of GOT stuff that this series does not need (@EVA).

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4 hours ago, Robert s said:

There was one tiny thing this episode that really pissed me off: having blood on the camera lens during the Halbrand fight scene. I hate this technique, that's some breaking-the-fourth-wall shit. There were also some very graphic scenes (like the breaking of the arm during said fight scene and the elf getting his throat slashed) that was more violent than necessary. That's exactly the kind of GOT stuff that this series does not need (@EVA).

J.A. Bayonna passed off directing duties on this episode. And though the images are still unspeakably beautiful, you can definitely tell they’re being made by someone with a different perspective. I didn’t like it quite so much.


I’m still really pleased by the Harfoot story. But Numenor was a drag.

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Episode 4 I thought had some very inspired well directed moments.

That shot of the orc ALMOST sniffing out that kids manflesh during what was a monster long one take is super intense.  
 

Catching arrows and firing them right back at your enemy is delightfully thoughtful in giving the show some continuity with Jackson’s trilogy. Beautifully done.

Hot MILF continues being hot.  
 

Word.

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I'm the opposite, this was my least favourite episode so far. I missed the Harfoots and the Numenor stuff isn't very interesting to me.

I'm assuming you mean the kid with the blade? I don't think he is, I think the big reveal is that he

Spoiler

is half elf. They have made a point of never showing his ears and it might explain his disdain for elves if he feels that he has been abandoned by his father, who's presumably Arondir

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The Numenor stuff so far really has been hit and miss for me. The stuff not working (random order):

  • "We don't like elves because they take our jobs and don't need sleep." - The writers so far have failed to come up with a compelling reason WHY the Numenoreans hate the elves. The answer should be somewhere in the jealousy area ("they live forever, we have to die, this is not fair, the Valar are playing favorites even though our ancestors stood with them against Morgoth etc.").
  • There is some great looking stuff in Numenor, but there are also some bad CG effects and green screen usage that I did not notice in the other settings.
  • Morfydd Clark is just not working as Galadriel. I am not sure if it is the direction they are giving her or she simply cannot do better. I think she is trying to mimic Cate Blanchett but she is failing horribly doing do.
  • The story did not need a "rightful heir" storyline (w.r.t. the Southlands). Actually, the story does not need a Halbrand character at all.

So far I am neutral on the Elendil-family stuff. Let's see where they are going with it (at least with Isildur and his sister, Elendil's destination is obvious if you have read the Silmarillion).

I think I also prefer the Harfoots to the Numenoreans to far. It took me some time to realize it but the Harfoots actually feel like something Tolkien would have written if he extended the "Akallabeth" into one or multiple books and tried to make it approachable for fans of LOTR (in the foreword of the Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien prints a letter of his father to the publisher where he (JRR) tries to explain what the Silmarillion is about and remarks that readers of LOTS will probably miss the Hobbits).

Regarding Adar: I assume he is an early elf ("Avari") that was corrupted by Morgoth?

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Yeah, I’m not understanding the need for Halbrand right now either. At first, he made sense as an Aragorn “man who would be king” stand-in…but then they introduced Isildur, and now he seems pretty redundant.

 

On the Tolkien remix front, now we’ve got the people of the Southlands holed up at the elf watchtower like it’s Helm’s Deep and Numenor being convinced to set sail to save them like the Rohirim riding for Minas Tirith. Also a monarch being shown their doom by a palantir.

 

I also suspect that Theo’s father is Arondir. In one of the early eps, there was a bit where somebody (I forget who) was talking about how humans and elves can’t mate, or at least not without disastrous results. Seemed like exactly the sort of thing you’d put in the script so you can disprove it later. (And obviously we know that’s not true.)

Too bad Theo fucking sucks!

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