Editor’s note: Below are spoilers for the season finale of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”
“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” has finished its first season, with many more planned. However, Amazon’s real struggle might be convincing everyone that their very expensive (and mostly disastrous) gamble on JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth saga has been a resounding success.
Amazon has acted impressed with the show’s execution and performance, with Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke praising its audience numbers in an interview with Variety, noting that the first season did “the hard work of setting up who all these characters are.”
After initial reviews admired its scope and visual grandeur, however, more critical voices have drifted into the disgust column, stating that – as Duncan Lay of the Daily Telegraph put it – the series “managed to be pretentious and boring”.
Forbes’ Erik Kain made a similar observation, writing that after the opening chapters, “The Rings of Power” proved that “a poorly written TV series wears out its welcome once the shine wears off.”
Some critical flak is expected, and earlier controversy surrounding the series and HBO’s “House of the Dragon” — the inclusion of more people of color, breaking the monochromatic nature of these mythical worlds — may have helped distract from, or delay, the show and its flaws. basic observations about
The eighth episode/season finale emphasized that point, offering late revelations about Sauron and his identity while introducing the actual forging of the rings, before fading into the lovingly filmed threat to come.
At over 70 minutes, it mirrored the entire season: Nice, with some striking visual moments, but slow and bloated. Where “House of the Dragon” thrived on multi-year time jumps, generating buzz and audiences in the process, “Lord of the Rings” – unlike Peter Jackson’s trilogy – has been on something closer to exploration. Heck, it took seven episodes to see the name “Mordor” flash across the screen.
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Students of the Tolkien canon can obviously enjoy studying the tiniest detail. Still, it’s hard to escape the fact that this slow-motion progress has less to do with the calculation of extending the story, given the commitment — and perhaps the need to justify Amazon’s investment — to tease this out over multiple seasons.
For Amazon, those expenditures on “The Lord of the Rings” — hundreds of millions of dollars in total — are putting pressure on it to be more than an academic exercise, but a property that could significantly affect the company’s long-term commitment to streaming.
Like Apple, Amazon has spent heavily on content creation, even though that’s not its core business. These deep-pocketed tech companies, like Disney and Warner Bros. They have different priorities than studios like Discovery (CNN’s parent), because producing movies and television is a peripheral venture for Amazon, not at the core of its corporate mission.
Amazon has released blockbuster hits, including the boundary-pushing superhero satire “The Boys” and the Emmy-winning “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” In a short time, the company has established itself as a major player in entertainment.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was personally involved in acquiring the rights from Tolkien’s estate in 2017, reflecting the company’s big bet. But Hollywood history is littered with outsiders who wanted to break into the business before bleeding their noses and eventually engineering strategic retreats.
It has become famous to say that certain large corporations are “Too Big to Fail”, and when it comes to television, “Rings of Power” is as big as they come. However, after getting past the hype machine, the series still hasn’t earned its place in the upper echelons of fantasy TV, let alone a claim to rule them all.