Hobbit-Sized Debut: Rings of Power Puts the Mid in Middle Earth


Continuing one of the most popular fantasy franchises of the century, Lord of the Rings: the Rings of Power was released Sep. 2 on Amazon Prime Video. The long-awaited production was heralded as one of the most expensive shows ever made, leaving critics and fans to debate its success.

The Lord of the Rings prequel was filmed in New Zealand from February 2020 to August 2021, with the season finale set to air October 14. Led by showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay, the series is intended to use a more enhanced design than the original movies, leading to the $1 billion put towards the show’s production. 

“When someone hands you something precious, your job is really just to try to translate it and communicate it, in a way that does it justice to the essence of what it is,” showrunner JD Payne said in an interview with Collider. “We and the team of thousands of artists have been working at that for many years now, to try to do that, and we’re really excited to share it with the world.”

Amazon bought the rights to the Lord of the Rings franchise for $250 million with the goal of revitalizing one of the world’s most celebrated works of fiction in just five seasons. The grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the Lord of the Rings, was there to advise the production process, alongside a number of Tolkien experts and a highly skilled production crew.

We worked very hard, every day, to make the show accessible to people who have not read the books, have not seen the movies, and who are totally new to Tolkien and Middle-earth, as much as and equally for the fans, who know the Legendarium incredibly well,” producer Lindsey Weber told Collider.

The show has earned generally good reviews, with a 6.9/10 on IMDB and an 84% on the Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer”. Many people were thoroughly impressed with the intricate storytelling, cinematography, detail-oriented visuals, and musical score, although it is unknown whether these reviews were impacted by the original’s extensive impact. 

“I am watching the show because it is produced by a big franchise and it is the prequel of one of the greatest movies of all time…the name Lord of the Rings is enough for me to get interested in the series,” sophomore Sai Manohar Chilukuri said. 

The show isn’t as great as expected in terms of storytelling. The setup and the visuals of the show are grand and neat, but the story moves too slow and my patience is tested.

— sophomore Sai Manohar Chilukuri

Despite the overall decent reviews, some critics and fans were disappointed. The pacing and timeline of the series have been criticized for being too extensive and tedious, and many passionate fans felt like not enough care went into casting and accurate storylines.

“The show isn’t as great as expected in terms of storytelling,” Chilukuri said. “The setup and the visuals of the show are grand and neat, but the story moves too slow and my patience is tested.”

Overall, Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power has received mixed reviews. Some believed that the episodes so far haven’t been true to their original inspiration, yet some felt it is an entertaining and well-made show. Amazon made a bold choice to pick up one of the world’s most successful franchises and spend a large sum of money on it. Now, it’s up to the viewers to decide whether it paid off.

“I was excited for the show but the excitement turned into disappointment,” Chilukuri said. “This prequel definitely did not have [the original’s] impact.”