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Old 10-25-2022, 06:04 PM   #1
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Grading Season 1 Rings of Power

Season 1 is in the books, what grades would you give Rings of Power? In the following categories: Visuals/Special effects, Costumes/Make-up, Acting, Plot, Writing/Dialogue, Music, Themes/Motifs, and Overall.

Overall: C+. I think Visuals and Themes/Motifs are the best part of the show from Season 1. My overall enjoyment gets dragged down by the cringy dialogue and incomplete plot lines. Once the stunning visuals sort of wear off in the first couple episodes it became harder to overlook the major problems I had with the writing. Overall, I thought the acting was pretty good. There were a few duds (especially actors changing accents), but I think some of performances suffer from a poor script, or a character being portrayed differently than what I imagined. Like Gil-galad and Celebrimbor, I think are portrayed quite differently than what I imagined, but I think the actors (Benjamin Walker and Charles Edwards) give convincing performances in their roles.

Discuss any or all of them and any other categories I may have missed. I'll go into details later.

I think that's what I would have given the first Hobbit film, which I basically had the same reaction. I like it for what it is, but it didn't "wow" me like The Fellowship of the Ring. I think I like Rings of Power a smidge more because the visuals were better than that weird fast frame rate Jackson did for The Hobbit. The script was better than the Rings of Power script, but it wasn't anything to hang your hat on. It was just as forgettable as the RoP script, in my opinion.
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Old 10-26-2022, 12:19 PM   #2
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C or C+. I expected deviations from "canon." However, there were too many unnecessary deviations from canon. The tree that forecasts the fate of the Elves and mithril as the "savior" of the Elves. The apparent omission of Annatar, which was a compelling story. I expect that some version of the Sauron comes to Numenor and bewitches Adunakhor tale may still be coming. Galadriel as the warrior princess was not necessary, though I do not dislike the character. Her journey towards Valinor was too obviously a plot device to place her in the way of Halbrand. In general, there were too many times when I found myself exclaiming "What?" as I was watching it.

The story itself is entertaining and mostly coherent internally. I like the Harfoots and the Dwarves. I'm wavering on Elrond the politician. It has my attention, and I will continue to watch it.
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Old 10-26-2022, 02:37 PM   #3
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There's a few different ways to do this, so I'm going to start with Boro's proposed categories:
  • Visuals/Special effects: A- Look, the show IS pretty.
  • Costumes/Make-up: B- I thought the costumers and designers did well for a budget--I'm just not sure that the most expensive television show ever made should be identifiably "on a budget."
  • Acting: B+ In general, I liked the actors and there were a few standouts (Celebrimbor, Durin III, Elendil being MY favourites). No one really sunk the ship for me--though WHAT they were asked to act.
  • Plot: C Even on its OWN terms, RoP's plot doesn't quite make sense to me. Too much of it is glancing at material it can't use OR for future seasons OR for the algorithm. The tiny Númenórean fleet that is somehow a big deal politically in that giant metropolis happens mostly because Galadriel says it must. The Lugrom blade as the key to Orodruin isn't great, and the actual eruption strains credibility. The size of the Southland is very unclear and I don't understand why NO ONE in the Southland didn't say "we haven't had a king for 1000 years!"
  • Writing/Dialogue: C: this wasn't a strength. The most I can say is there weren't really any memorably bad lines.
  • Music: A and I'd be tempted to go A+, except that it was a bit too "safe" (i.e. similar to the movies) at times. I think I pointed out the opening theme as something I enjoy every episode, and I think RoP outdid the PJ movies for diagetic music--yes, even considering "Far Over the Misty Mountains" and Aragorn's coronation song: something about RoP's approach seemed closer to the books to me. And "3 Rings for Elven Kings" after the final episode was chilling.
  • Themes/Motifs: B I've mentioned before that I like the thoughtfulness, where the writers were clearly transparent about having digested Tolkien. But there are also things that are clearly there because the movies had them, and this brings it down some.
  • and, before we get to the end, let me add a couple: as a Tolkien adaptation: B- An adaptation was always going to be different and the writers are hamstrung by WHAT they could use. But the decision to fold the timeline as severely as they did was all them, and it has consequences. It might have more detrimental consequences as an adaptation than the Silmamithril, which is an annoying plot device/ticking time bomb, but at least can be explained as "the Fading of the Elves" made more dramatic, which contains its fallout--so far. I'm willing to go as high as a B- here, though, because of the theme/motif little things and because, at least, the bare plot of the Rings is recognisable in the original texts, even if distorted. In a world of bad adaptations, this is still a work that puts a lot of store in the author.
  • And filmography (how things are shot, how they're editing--pacing, etc.): C+ This is the biggest reason I find it hard to recommend the show--Tolkien fidelity matters to ME, but if you just want a fantasy adventure flick... it's still a little bit weird. There's the slow-mo, of course, but there's also things like how they intercut the storylines (killing momentum in some episodes), what they show or don't show. Who survives the volcano? It's not a smooth ride, even if it's a pretty one.
  • Overall: B- Most of my grades were in the low B/high C area, but there were a couple of individual things that I really liked, so the mean is higher than the median or the mode. RoP was good enough, even without all the renewed Downs activity that is REALLY why I liked it, that I will come back next season. Importantly, I went into the show DREADING it and I've come out as a "well, you have to fair to it" defender.
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Old 10-26-2022, 06:22 PM   #4
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Pipe Rings of Power Review - Season One

(I wrote this up on another Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza and thought I'd also present it here.)

I'll be brief with each category for now... full of spoilers... I'll likely revisit this and make edits on occasion as I dwell more on the season after a binge re-watch through all 8 episodes back-to-back.
  • Visuals/Special effects - A-. I think they captured the look and feel of Middle Earth in general, with Numenor and Khazad Dum the stars of the presentation. I will put this in the 'visuals' .... Charles Edwards is a wonderful actor and he is doing a great job of presenting Celebrimbor, he does not have the look of the Celebrimbor that is in my head-canon. It is one of the big negatives I have with the visuals so I mention it here. It's is along the lines of Liv Tyler not appearing as the Arwen of my head canon.
  • Costumes/Make-up - B. It is weighted on an 'overall' scale as some I thought was really good, and a few things I thought was not-so-good. First some of the not-so-good. The elf-ears are a weak-link especially coupled with the short hair. The only one that it really works with is Arondir. Also, some of the armour looked rather pedestrian. On the plus side, they portrayed the Dwarves really well, especially both Durins. I liked the guild emblems of Numenor, and I liked how Galadriel, Mariel, Elendil, and Farien were portrayed. A big plus for me is the Orcs... Uruks. Much more menacing than the PJ Orcs! They captured them well. Overall, they captured the essence with most of the costuming.
  • Acting - B. There are some stellar scenes, and some are doing much better than others. I think a lot of the negatives I have pertain more to the script writing than the actor's themselves. The acting standouts for me are the characters Durin III, Durin IV, Arondir, Mariel, and Elendil. Honorable mentions are Pharazon, Adar, Theo, and Galadriel. I'm fairly neutral on the rest. The actors and the acting is good, but is hindered by the scripts they are handed. I look beyond the accents used just as I look beyond the heritage of the actors.
  • Plot - C. I found the plot somewhat rudderless as if the showrunners were themselves floundering with what direction to take, especially in the first few episodes. The whole of the sea scenes where Galadriel gets on board to Valinor, then jumps off far to the west is a total cringeworthy 'WTH' moment for me. I 'get' what they were trying to set up, but that was just outright bad along the lines of Arwen catching Aragorn out in the wild at unawares. Add to that Halbarand and Co out floating on wreckage without much of any explanation as to 'why' they were out there, and the who/what/why/how the 'Corsairs' were out raiding ships in the Sundering Seas, really had me shaking my head. In the end it was used to bring Galadriel and 'Halbarand' to Numenor. Also, another cringeworthy 'WTH' moment for me was/is the whole 'Mithril' being needed to 'save' the elves. I will give credit to the whole good/evil battle of the tree creating mithril as a neat fan-ficcy tale, but that whole Elf-Mithril connection storyline was a bit rough to take. Also, with the Balrog scene in the depths of Khazad Dum, I'm really hoping that they don't bring it in too soon, which it is appearing they will do.
  • Writing/Dialogue - D+. This is where a lot of it falls down for me. I could go into this rather deep, but will just say that lines like Galadriel saying to Elrond when he tells her to put up her sword 'Without it, what am I to be', and Bronwyn's whole offhanded 'I'll go with you' when Arondir says he is going off east. Another crappy portrayal was the whole "fight" with the Ice Troll. Galadriel's 'squad' looked pretty useless as they got kicked around much like Gondor's soldiers in the battle of Osgiliath in PJ's project. Galadriel comes and PJ Legolas-like, saves the day singlehandedly, complete with sword-spin when she is done, and oh look... it seems all the squad is back standing around again. I mention Peter Jackson's film projects here, because the writing of rings of Power seems to love giving hat-tips to those projects with their fancy Legoladriel footwork, dropping orc-heads in front of people, and finding a Viggo lookalike actor for Halbarand. I get they are trying to do fan service with all this, but it falls flat, and the fans of PJ will only point out that they are 'copying the master' or something. It is my hope that the showrunners give up on trying to incorporate so much fan-service and do their own thing (within the lore if not canon), for better or worse. One of the plusses is the usually-mentions of characters and moments in the Tolkien lore. Feanor and the Silmarils, Anarion (though they seem to allude that he is the 'older' brother to Isildur and Farien), and the visuals of the Two Trees of Valinor in the 1st episode.
  • Music - A. I find no real flaws with it, and I did enjoy Fiona Apple's singing 'Where The Shadows Lie' at the end of the last episode very nice!
  • Themes/Motifs - C-ish. Not sure which way to go with this. It sort of rolls into the whole 'visuals' thing. They done wonderfully with Numenor, though I would have liked to see it a bit 'grander' and the ships bigger and more plentiful. Since the timelines are all distorted, I would love to see their shipbuilding yards in Middle Earth (Lond Daer, etc.) and with the mention of Pelargir at the end of the last episode, there is a possibility they might allude more to this? The reason I think it would be good is to demonstrate the strengthening of Numenor, and the reason I think they won't is they seemed to have ingrained in the earlier episodes that going to Middle Earth was something Numenor didn't like doing.
  • Overall - 6.5/10. I debated giving it a 7 but so much of it was quite rough. The whole 'The Sea Is Always Right' lameness cost it a half-point. You may note that I have left out the whole Harfoot story in my summary. The reason is I thought it was to me it was a bit of a sideshow to the whole telling of the rest of the tale. The whole storyline would be a wonderful story on its own, but it is a bit rough at this point merging it in with the rest of what was presented. I know the whole 'meteor man' story is incorporated into it and they are alluding to it being Gandalf, but when he was using his powers in that last episode, he had an eerie 'Christopher Lee' look to him. It is my hope that it would be Radagast as they could do more with his backstory. Saruman would be a decent choice as they could portray that he was initially good. The whole 'watcher' bit I feel was a missed opportunity for the show to show some depth in the 'wizard' storyline, but I'll get more into that another time as I digress here. Overall, I thought the show was a reasonable effort in portrayal while adhering to the restraints put on them by the limitations of source material, the setting in the 2nd Age, and the individual approvals needed from the Tolkien Estate for stretching the boundaries.
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