TV

The One Thing Rings of Power Ultimately Did Better Than Jackson's LotR

Image credit: Legion-Media

Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy enjoyed enormous success, both critically and commercially. It obtained a grand total of 17 Academy Awards, won Best Picture for 2000, and collected nearly $3 billion at the box office.

Understandably, following in its footsteps is no small task for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Even the following Hobbit film trilogy by Peter Jackson himself came short of its predecessor, so the TV series has been facing some serious uphill struggle from the beginning, before we even consider Tolkien purists, who were critical even of Jackson's works, despite those being much closer to the source material.

By now we can tell that the Season 1 of The Rings of Power has mostly failed in that struggle.

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Far too many of its plot decisions and other aspects, such as dialogue, are controversial to put it mildly. But still, there were a few aspects of the show in which it has arguably matched and even surpassed Jackson's films.

Take the orcs, for example. Jackson's orcs were suitably grotesque, grisly, and terrifying, but also they were nothing more than artificially grown biological weapons for Sauron and Saruman, with little to no will of their own, and that manifesting solely as blind – and nearly inexplicable within the movies, which skipped explaining various divisions between orcs which existed in the book – aggression.

The Rings of Power, meanwhile, took some time exploring the complexities of the origin of the orcs, by introducing the character Adar (Joseph Mawle), the "first-generation" orc, i.e. an elf tortured and corrupted by Morgoth, who's leading his orc "children".

While the orcs are still vicious and cruel, in fact even closer to horror movie monsters than they were in Jackson's movies, and Adar himself is a brutal, spiteful warlord, there is a tragedy to their existence now, and they are clearly sapient creatures, worthy of certain respect, while remaining a clear danger.

Notably, Tolkien himself long struggled with contradictory ideas on the nature of orcs ("corrupted elves" was just the version of their origin that Peter Jackson decided to use) and never came up with an answer fully satisfying for him.

Orcs were not supposed to be mere automatons commanded by the Dark Lord, but Tolkien could not wholly believe in creatures who possessed intelligence and souls remaining forever evil, and did not want to portray them as tragic monsters.

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The Rings of Power's attempt to tackle this question might be not wholly satisfying, but at least it is there.

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