Why Rings Of Power Is Crap

by stephenpalmersf

First of all, yes I have watched it. After the first couple of episodes I realised it was most likely going to be rubbish, but, decent fellow that I am, I gave it a bit more time to improve. It got worse.

My reasons for calling it crap are fivefold: the overall concept, the accents, the look, the music, and the execution.

This series is basically a group of fans doing everything they can to attach Tolkien’s name to their new television work. It exists for no other reason. It’s not required, it doesn’t begin to touch the mood, subtlety and flowing script of the original film trilogy, and it hasn’t even found a coherent story amidst the scraps of Second Age material Tolkien’s estate allowed the writers to use. Some parts, eg. the Numenorean harbour, do look spectacular, but frankly the overall look is stodge veneered in CGI gloss; and if they can’t even spend their money on making it look special, why bother? As for the overall look and concept… you could use exactly the same film footage, change the story so it’s set in some half-arsed version of Constantinople, and nobody would notice.

The accents – which have rightly caused a storm of annoyance – are spectacularly crass. As usual, the whimsical, straw-haired Harfoots are characterised by being Irish. There’s no other way to say it: this is cultural appropriation. It’s so carelessly blatant you wonder about the focus groups the script writers used, if any. And Lenny Henry – what was he thinking? Lenny Henry is a fantastic, subtle and highly intelligent actor, but this… this is embarrassing. Inevitably, the dwarves are Scottish. Some of them are just a couple of checks away from wearing kilts. I kept expecting the bagpipes to be hauled out. Just ridiculous. Meanwhile, the elves all appear to have gone to school at Eton. I think if there’s one aspect of this tv car crash which disgusts me the most, it’s those accents. And while I’m on the topic… I’m presuming there won’t be a Welsh cultural appropriation. There never is, is there?

The look? Shite. Who on earth designed Elrond’s hairstyle? It looks like he’s wearing a hedgehog that’s spent an hour in a wind tunnel. As for Durin’s beard… is that proper Highland sheep’s wool they used? I bet it was. And the trio of wolves in episode 5, well, they did look as though some small CGI progress had been made since Jurassic Park. Then there’s the overall look, which aims to replicate that of the original film trilogy. Yes, if you want to eat nothing but chocolate I’m sure that’s very nice for a while. But soon chocolate begins to pall. Also, on its own, its not terribly nutritious.

As for the music… this is quite the most anonymous score I’ve ever heard. It literally has no content. It sounds as though the composer threw a couple of staves of descending scales into a vat of lemon Flash. As for the cod-Irish tune accompanying the Harfoots migration… could that have been any more offensive? I’m not sure it could have. I think we hit peak offence there.

So to execution. If you’re going to throw in sixth form prose like “in order to see the light you have to touch the dark,” do it once per episode, not every bloody minute. Some of the dialogue in the later Numenorean council scenes made Lucas’ second Star Wars trilogy sound like Shakespeare. Pretentious, ponderous and portentous doesn’t begin to cover it. And while we’re on the subject of words beginning with p, we’ve begun calling it Rings Of Poo in my home. Meanwhile, the other aspect to this is all the re-writing. For instance, the elves will die overnight because of mithril? Really? Overnight, eh? I hear the sound of Tolkien rotating in his grave. And did they really need to waste an entire episode with Galadriel on the sea, not to mention five episodes refusing to tell us anything about the strange old man in the meteorite?

To balance this diatribe, there is some good stuff. The guy playing Sauron is excellent, and his orcs all look suitably horrific. But that’s about it.

I began watching Rings Of Power suspecting it was going to be a mess, and poor quality too, but if it had been good I would have been perfectly happy to change my mind. Its worse than a mess and worse than poor. It has been ripped bleeding from the less important part of Tolkien’s world, then inflated with hot air to unrecognisable proportions. What is so galling is how comprehensively un-Tolkien the whole thing is. With skill and diligence the makers have wrung out every last drop of Tolkien’s vision, until absolutely nothing is left. I suppose, in the end, some will laud that as quite a feat.