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A model of The Ring during a photocall for the launch of <span class=push-double></span>​<span class=pull-double>“</span>The Lord of the Rings: The Exhibition”
Photo by Yui Mok
PA Images via Getty Images

Tolkien fans are underwhelmed by Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The rings of power trailer

15 February 2022 | Forbes } Dani Di Placido

The trailer for Rings of Power dropped at the Super Bowl, and Amazon doesn’t seem to have gotten much bang for its buck, with many fans expressing disappointment at Middle-Earth’s sterile new aesthetic.

There’s a certain look shared by many modern fantasy television shows; a glossy, textureless sheen that makes picturesque landscapes look like computer screensavers, and knights in armor look like high-effort cosplay.

Viewers, perhaps, have been spoiled by the perfectly realized worlds of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, which look as though they’ve been inhabited for millennia; weather-worn, overgrown, spattered in dirt, dust and blood from long-forgotten wars. There’s a certain weight, an atmosphere in these works that imitators can rarely replicate.

The Rings of Power trailer, however, echoes the CGI-heavy, oversaturated world of The Hobbit trilogy, which many fans viewed as a significant downgrade from the carefully crafted sets and costumes from the original films.…


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The Lord Of The Rings: The Exhibition

A model of The Ring during a photocall for the launch of The Lord Of The Rings: The Exhibition. … [+] (Photo by Yui Mok — PA Images/​PA Images via Getty Images)

PA Images via Getty Images

Ever since the unprecedented pop-cultural domination of Game of Thrones, the streaming giants have tried their hardest to replicate the show’s magic.

HBO immediately began developing Thrones spin-offs, Netflix quickly found success with its pulpy fantasy series The Witcher, while Amazon threw money at the Wheel of Time and the clumsily-titled Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power, which will reportedly cost one billion dollars for a single season, making it the most expensive television show ever made.

Well, the trailer for Rings of Power dropped at the Super Bowl, and Amazon doesn’t seem to have gotten much bang for its buck, with many fans expressing disappointment at Middle-Earth’s sterile new aesthetic.

There’s a certain look shared by many modern fantasy television shows; a glossy, textureless sheen that makes picturesque landscapes look like computer screensavers, and knights in armor look like high-effort cosplay.

Viewers, perhaps, have been spoiled by the perfectly realized worlds of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, which look as though they’ve been inhabited for millennia; weather-worn, overgrown, spattered in dirt, dust and blood from long-forgotten wars. There’s a certain weight, an atmosphere in these works that imitators can rarely replicate.

The Rings of Power trailer, however, echoes the CGI-heavy, oversaturated world of The Hobbit trilogy, which many fans viewed as a significant downgrade from the carefully crafted sets and costumes from the original films.

The Lord of the Rings subreddit was filled with disappointed commentators, while the YouTube comments under the trailer were spammed with an extremely melodramatic quote comparing Amazon to the evil demigods of Middle-Earth, which were unable to create their own forms of life, only corrupt what had already been created.

Rings of Power already seems to resemble The Wheel of Time, which suffered from an abundance of cleanliness, featuring perfect hair and spotless clothes, and sets that felt oddly uninhabited; the sense of immersion that is so vitally important for the fantasy genre just wasn’t there.

Some fans even compared the trailer to the world of Narnia from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the dorky, devoutly religious cousin of Rings, which is rather devastating. 

While this is only one trailer and cannot possibly communicate the quality of the series, it says a lot that fans are already so concerned. It should also be noted that Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is a remarkable artistic accomplishment, an almost impossibly high bar for subsequent adaptations to measure up to.

Jackson’s long, difficult battle to bring the film to life, along with the years of preparation his team had to create the world, contributed to the astounding quality of those films. 

Amazon doesn’t have the rights to The Lord of the Rings novels, yet, but they do have the rights to segments of The Silmarillion, the deepest, darkest lore of Tolkien’s Legendarium, taking place long, long before the events of Peter Jackson’s trilogy. 

Hence, The Rings of Power won’t have iconic characters like Gandalf and Frodo to lure viewers, but it will some long-lived characters from the original trilogy, such as Galadriel and Elrond, who are already attracting complaints about their appearance. Hair length, it seems, is important.

But perhaps the vast distance from the original trilogy might prove beneficial to Rings of Power; for Amazon has the opportunity to create new characters for viewers to bond with, to show a new side to Middle-Earth, that can stand alongside the memories of the original trilogy.

Tolkien fans seem almost as difficult to please as Star Wars fans — we’ll soon find out if a billion dollars is enough to buy their admiration.

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