So… I’ve been reading a lot of RoleMaster Unified and Shadow World books, which is of course very Tolkieny, “Iron Crown”, after all. I finished a Good Omens ep (will review when I’m done, I’m taking my time), and Rings of Power is suggested to me. Well, why not, just one Tolkien fanfic show. As I’ve previously noted, I dislike the man, and his more overtly racist parts, but I liked The Hobbit book and I’m still up for some Human-Dwarf-Elf cliché fantasy, esp if they go off-book, non-canon, which they’ve had to.
Spoiler spoiler spoilers, as if it matters. On fediverse I didn’t even bother to CW my thoughts.
First ep, 2 minutes in, whiny Elf claims a wood (really paper in this case) boat floats because it has secrets. No, unscientific, pointy-eared moron!, it floats by water displacement. It’s this shit that loses you your immortal magic home.
Sauron and the Orcs look much cooler, I like their style. Unfortunately they only show up momentarily until late 3rd ep.
Elfs are too dumb to understand a fork symbol, and the eventual revelation of what it means doesn’t make a lot of sense for non-literate savages the Orcs are portrayed as. “Nobody’s seen an Orc in years”, what? That’s ridiculous, they rule half the planet. “Land”, I guess since it’s flat Earth.
The Elfs carrying 2-handed swords on their backs can’t possibly unsheathe for battle. Body armor is preposterously bad. Elf armor is overly carved & decorative. Human armor is leather fake-scale, terminates above the belly button, doesn’t cover the arms either. All but useless. Generally the fight choreography is very dance troupe, not much in the way of practical fighting.
Cliché cave troll attack. Galadriel for some reason is a super high level fighter, does no magic. Repeatedly we see the Elfs flying into the air on jump boards or wire fu.
Elfs congratulating themselves on delusional political bullshit. Elrond’s a boring, pretentious twat for 2000+ years. Superhero Galadriel is kinda cool, just totally implausible and non-canon (not that I care). Arondir’s OK, overarmed knife-ear bastard Human-fucker cop. There’s an RPG Elf! There’s a lot of racism against the Humans, all Morgoth-worshippers, but that seems typical for Elfs.
Too much time spent with the fucking goddamned ‘obbits, or “Harfoots” as they call themselves in this. Filthy barefoot little cannibal shits running around (OK, that’s a Dark Sun ref, but I don’t doubt that book full of people they consult is a cookbook). They have a stultifying, dead-end culture of nomads who every year mark the 10%+ of their population who died, in some hilarious ways. “Stay on the trails, never walk alone!” That actually kinda works for pre-civilization ‘obbits, like in 2000 years they could have settled down but still be cowards.
2nd ep has the ‘obbits find a flaming man from the sky: Gandalf‽ I love that guy, even if he’s a shitty angel/4th-Level Magic-User. He’s just a hairy slob right now tho.
So Galadriel’s shipped off West for being inconvenient. Boat to the Undying Lands (North America is heaven) has a real Logan’s Run Carousel tone. Stupid Elfs going into the light are just gonna get zapped by lasers. Then Galadriel just swims back across the Atlantic? Sure, why not.
Dwarf kingdom looks really good. Super cool. But the Dwarf costume/appearance are kinda sus, bad stereotypes. Tolkien was racist as fuck, maybe don’t perpetuate it in the show? The casting is semi-random racially, which is a nice change, but it’s only 50% less. There’s been a lot of whining from Internet racist trolls like the owner of “x dot com”, and fuck all those people. I must say, I’m disappointed Durin’s wife shaves her beard off to conform to Human beauty standards; she should embrace Dwarf hairy-faced tradition.
The naming of things is still kinda shitty, “The Southlands”, etc. At least put it in an old language, Torpenow Hill style. If you say it’s Mordor or Gondor, that kind of gives things away, but it is those.
First peasant vs Orc fight is fun, mostly. 0th-Level character funnel. The Healer delivering evidence to the town headman is funny, very much what D&D characters do to motivate the militia. Stupid peasants, who we are AGAIN told sided with Morgoth and therefore their line is tainted with evil forever after, really deserve a good hard kicking while they’re down. Just coat them with mud, maybe a corpse cart-man singing “bring out your dead!” I do keep seeing Monty Python and the Holy Grail in this.
Galadriel keeps failing upwards, floating in the sea to a raft of hostiles, raft of a friendly dude with suspiciously Viggo Mortensen-looking face and pendant, to ship of Numenor. It’s amazing how after days of falling in and out of sea water, starvation & dehydration, she has perfect makeup, slightly mussed & dark roots in her bleach blonde hair. Elfs really are magic.
The Numenoreans say several times, “The sea is always right”, I correct STARBOARD! every time. Galadriel, having again failed upwards from prisoner to fairy queen, gets to ride a horse along the beach in romantic slo-mo! And it’s clearly the most ecstatic thing she’s ever had between her thighs. This scene goes on way too long, it’s clearly the director’s dirty fetish, someone should’ve had veto in the editing suite.
I don’t understand how the Orcs ever captured all the Elf soldiers off-camera. Arondir fucked up, but most of the centuries-old soldiers must be at their 4th-Level Fighter cap by OD&D rules, so how can a bunch of juvenile 1-1 HD lesser Orcs who literally burn in sunlight fight and shoot on par with them? They do have a Warhammer-spiky-punk-rock hyena/worg special figure, with sub-Roger Rabbit-quality CGI.
1st ep was boring as hell after the cave troll, all premise and exposition. Then it got kind of good, I’m 3 eps in and despite a LOT of problems, it has some good fantasyland style, tone, & fight material worth stealing for your FRPG of choice. It mostly looks magnificent, they really did the “drone flying thru New Zealand and some CGI shots” well, the extras are usually well costumed, armor aside. The scenes in Numenor especially remind me a lot of HBO’s Rome. CGI sets are a little iffy, but they don’t linger too much on fake buildings.
I’ll be finishing this up tomorrow, and then supposedly ‘zon has paid for 5 seasons already!
★★★½☆ Definition of mediocre but fun enough to watch.