Thursday, November 3, 2022

Rings Of Power

I've finished it, and there's still a few pages left to fill in.

Seven and a half years have passed since this journey began, and welcome to the 1,000th review. I've never quite had an experience like with this show. When I heard tale of Amazon making a Lord Of The Rings series I was really taken aback and wondering why would they make a series when we have 3 films for it? Yet as time passed and stories and conversation of the show died down I forgot because I must and moved on with life. Then a change occured, the series was approaching fast and while my knowledge on it was limited I discovered it was taking place over 3000 years before The War Of The Ring, set in the second age of Middle-Earth, then it had my attention. Trailers started coming out, intrigue and excitement grew, I delved HARD into Tolkien from days gone by. Re-read all the books, the anticipation of this show made me read and take notes on The Silmarillion. Twice. All the live action films in a marathon fashion. I strayed out of thought and time, revisiting old favorite video games from Peter Jackson's trilogy. I'm such a dork I procured a ring of power myself, the ring of a Necromancer from the fortress of Dol Guldur. I was all in for this show, but what can a reviewer do against such reckless hate? Naysayers, turn away now. There is no vindication or victory for you here, my contempt for such individuals who banished even the thought of perhaps an entertaining return to this good earth before the series began is unfathomable. I would cast every single vehement, closed minded, and rage stained creature into the Cracks of Doom itself a thousand times over and a thousand times again. The game has changed and this is the beginning of a new era for my show. Get off my fucking planet. Never once has there been a disclaimer in any visual medium that said "This is a complete and accurate transition from page to screen", I've been to the movies hundreds of times and seen my fair share of shows and that's never occured. It's an adaptation, deal with it. With that being said, shall we begin? We start off with a quite strong intro, Silmarillion fans rejoice, with some backstory of course told by Galadriel regarding her last living brother Finrod, who after the Two Trees of Valinor are destroyed and the original great evil Morgoth waged war for countless years, is killed by Morgoth's most trusted servant Gorthaur who took on a new name that of Sauron. Centuries have passed but Galadriel still hunts the evil, with more inner demons to face than external ones as she travels to previously unexplored lands and gains unexpected allies. That's the main story but we follow a myriad of characters, including proto-Hobbits known as Harfoots and a visitor who fell from the stars, an elf named Arondir who watches over the Southlands which is the target for a new enemy, and soon to be elf lord Elrond reuniting with an old dwarven friend Durin as matters grow dark for elven kind. Now I have heard criticism for basically the juggling of these 4 stories but I don't have any wisdom to share with how I would have done it, I found it to be good yet obviously a bit scatter brained so I'm not too sure on how best to improve that. There was no single story I wasn't invested in and while it took awhile to learn these new characters names, I felt the acting all around was very good even though I knew precisely one actor in this entire damned season yet at the same time I am impressed with how much unknown talent was presented here and you may find each main character has a secondary mate. Morfydd Clark as Galadriel is such a strong presence and I fail to see any reason as to shun her performance. This is a character who is clearly flawed and has an arc and a journey to her. She is headstrong, she is quick to anger and battle, she has a tunnel vision goal to eradicate evil, and the two big conversations we have with Elrond and Halbrand were major highlights of the show in terms of writing, because they ask why do you always fight and hold such anger, and the brilliant part is Galadriel doesn't fully have the words to convey it and is trying her best to do so, bringing up traumatic and sad memories to justify herself. I've heard great dismay over gladiator Galadriel but those conversations put that firmly to bed. Plus....she kinda scares the shit clean out of me when she just stares right down the barrel of the camera, like I am genuinely unsettled staring into her eyes. Excellent work good lady. Charlie Vickers as Halbrand does start off as a semi-Aragorn wannabe but how his character progresses quickly breaks that mold and he presents that enigmatic quality quite well I find. Robert Aramayo, by episode two I was like that's Elrond. No question or doubt, no hesitation, no exaggeration, he is goddamn perfection as Elrond 120%! Owain Arthur alongisde him is the heart and soul of this series, even hateful bastards cannot say bad things about Durin and Elrond, their friendship is so powerful and ridiculously believable I teared up a fair bit with them on screen. Markella Kavenagh as our wandering brave hearted Harfoot Nori very quickly had my heart, combine that with Megan Richards as her BFF Poppy and I'm over the moon. Guard them, cherish them, keep them safe, they are the reason why the Harfoot story never feels like filler. Ismael Cruz Cordova fits that stoic yet vulnerable elf role very nicely and yeah I was just waiting for him and Nazanin Boniadi (who I swear just looked exactly like late 80s Winona Ryder) to hook up, as elves and humans oft do in this world and the threat to the Southlands is the big central conflict of the season. So of course let's talk about our commanding villain Adar, shock of all shocks I know but he was hands down my favorite character, played in a very quiet yet strong menace by Joseph Mawle. Man oh man did he knock it out of the park, because he clearly backs the evil side here but he is still an elf and that's a great dynamic conflict, how he treats Uruks with respect and compassion, how he honors elven traditions and still treasures light and life, just oh my God what a character! Screw that cliffhanger with him though, I was not amused by that. Also, titanic sized shoutout to all the actors in the orc makeup, those guys are fantabulous in every instance they are on screen, no friggin' wonder Adar staunchly vaunts for them. I know it may be pointless to praise a show's visuals and aesthetics when they have a surplus of one billion dollars (cue Dr. Evil finger), but it's true. The show looks stunning in all it's aspects. You want gorgeous landscape shots? Check! You want sprawling works of art for cities and architecture? Deal! You want creatures, costumes, and props made with subtle but excruciating detail? Say no more. So yeah, let's move on. There's just so damn much to cover in an epic series like this and I may have to submit to a lightning round of opinions and observations, context be damned, just to put everything on the record so here we go. Creepy ass cult looking bastards dressed in white, awesome. The origin story of mithril, holy shitballs! I thought the actor for Celebrimbor was in either Star Trek Next Gen. or Deep Space Nine but I was mistaken. The actor for Gil-Galad looked like McGee from NCIS, have fun getting that image out of your head! The second to last episode seemed oh so much like an end to the first season with every party gearing up for the next step in the adventure, even more so with the Balrog awakening and then cut to black but hey the last episode knocked my socks off and honestly unearthed feelings I have never experienced before. I want so many props, the not Morgul blade, Adar's gauntlet well pretty much his whole costume, the mithril shard, soooo many articles of clothing, come on internet do your work. Oh my God how could I forget, Disa. Whoa man! I need a woman like that in my life hard fucking core, that is a queen good buddy! I'm happy that sniveling little shithead kid got murdered even if it was offscreen, kill the twats, kill em' all! I really wanted our magic man to not be who we all thought it was, it was far too obvious, they could have just dropped one of the two blue wizards on us for bonus points but oh well. Pretty brutal at times I gotta admit, I mean shitting hell this show gets bloody and I'm for it but at least once it just dug under my skin and made my jaw drop man, ho mah gawd and da baby jeezuz! Those asses did it to me again, you pulled that Lost In Translation shit on me even here! In the last bloody episode! I hate you, you don't split the party, every player worth his salt in Dungeons & Dragons knows this! Sum' bitch. Apparently the soundtrack was done by the guy who did God Of War, that's pretty sick and he did amazing work with particular favorites of mine being the dwarven music and that freaky ass cult whisper music, hell to the yeah. By the by, did anyone buy that Bronwyn and Theo were mother and son because they sure as hell looked more like siblings to me. Can we also just discuss the rampant racism against the elves in this show, cause everyone and their mother just has this grudge against pointy eared people which is interesting, because the elves in the films are the ones a bit on the racist side. Also, I don't fully believe this series is indeed a precursor to the Lord Of The Rings movies and by extention The Hobbit movies as well, it takes elements from it but I also saw me some elements from the Bakshi animated film too so take it with a pinch of salt. That Evil Dead shot was pretty sweet. Oh seeing Valinor open, that was kind of some scary haunting shit, you want to talk about cults I was half expecting the elves to start passing around the magic Kool-Aid! And the thing with Celeborn, I don't buy that for a second, he's fine, he'll be in Lothlorien in...a few hundred years give or take. I did have but one simple request for my wishlist, and I didn't get it and certainly not in the fashion I was expecting, I'm not upset but my dreams of Annatar the Lord of Gifts have been dashed. The people who read this who haven't even touched the books must have so many confused looks and questions but, knowledge is present everywhere, use my knowledge I beg you, springboard into the lore it's groovy stuff even if you just Google a name or location. Do not however become these book thumping, entitled, mightier than thou, I'm the smartest person in these matters, high horse riding shitskids on the face of reality. I will dropkick you off your horse. Don't you fucking dare. Now in the case of Amazon halting all viewer reviews my stance is this, if they froze everything both good and bad reviews fine, however if they stopped the negative and kept recieving the positive reviews, then don't do that. That's bad. Even if humans are massive whiners and were bombing this show even before it finished. It is a good show, it doesn't make a theatrical mockery of Tolkien's works, the writing is solid, the acting is solid, the effects are solid, it's no high standing masterpiece for the ages and neither is it a travesty that would make the pope weep. Out of all the things to be angry about in this day and age, Rings Of Power isn't even on the bottom of that list. Entertained or not, a show is just a show. 4 stars, 8.5/10, and I now need to make a massive decision before the year is done.

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