TV

The Rings of Power Continues to Upset LoTR Fans

Image credit: Prime Video

Before its release The Rings of Power became immediately controversial among fans of the much loved The Lord of the Rings franchise. Now that we're over halfway through the airing of its first season, it is still receiving harsh criticism from its audience.

Fans across Reddit, Twitter, and Amazon itself are reviewing the series as they truly see it. And they're not pulling any punches in their opinions.

Why do fans of LoTR hate the show?

It can't be said that fans are simply put off by on-screen adaptations of Tolkien's works. Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy is considered one of the best film adaptations of a book series. All three movies are listed in Empire's '100 Greatest Movies of all Time' list. With 'The Fellowship of the Ring' being directly at the top spot of number 1. The continuing prequel trilogy adapting The Hobbit, was not considered as well-liked, by both fans and critics. Even so, those films combined received a total of almost three billion dollars in box office gross worldwide. Therefore the hatred of The Rings of Power is less to do with the representation of Middle-Earth than the interpretation of it which has turned fans against the series.

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Unlike the previous film franchises, The Rings of Power has invented a story of its own. Based marginally on details mentioned within the pages of the LoTR and Hobbit novels, the show plays through the history of the Second Age in a rather speedy manner. Events that were stated in Tolkien lore to take place over thousands of years, appear to be happening over the span of weeks, if not days. To fit the story into such a format, details, timelines, and characters have been significantly edited, added, or removed completely. Where Peter Jackson stayed as true as possible to Tolkien's original vision, Amazon has taken many 'creative liberties' in its interpretation. This is just part of the reason that loyal LoTR fans have reeled at the show's decisions to adapt the source material.

As well as the series altering key parts of Middle-Earth's narrative, fans have taken issue with how The Rings of Power has interpreted its characters. Tolkien added a great amount of detail in his books, not just describing the scenery and cultures of his fictional universe, but the races that inhabited it. The introduction of actors/characters that appear dissimilar to how they were described in the novels has upset some Tolkien enthusiasts. The show's producers have claimed that the representation of a multicultural cast is an important part of modern film and television production. And that depicting characters of many ethnicities instead opens the series and its story to a wider audience. Some fans however fired back at this statement. Stating that not representing the fictional universe as the writer intended is instead a poor portrayal of the source material.

It is not just the actors' natural appearance that has offended fans. The lack of bearded women dwarves has been considered a major misrepresentation of a description given by Tolkien himself. Viewers have asked, why would they remove such a small detail which makes so much difference to the representation of the story. For a franchise that is considered to have one of the most comprehensive fictional universes ever created, Amazon has certainly missed the mark in a few key places.

Why it is disliked more generally

Of course, not all fans disliked the idea for the show simply because its format was different from what was expected, and certain details had been altered. For fans whose introduction to LoTR was Jackson's films and not the books, these factors matter little anyway. However, the show has faced criticism from a large majority of viewers not for its accuracy, but its quality.

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It is estimated that The Rings of Power has cost up to $462 million to produce. Becoming widely known as what has become the most expensive television series ever made. For this reason alone, viewers have held the show to high standards. And many do not believe that the quality of the show's writing and performances live up to the high cost. Reading reviews across Twitter or directly from Prime's customer reviews itself, there is a popular theme of criticism that critiques the plot as 'slow' and 'boring', the dialogue as 'clumsy', and the acting by some as 'poor'. The main basis of the show's assessment of quality is spurred on by comparing the similar fantasy series 'House of the Dragon'; the 'Game of Thrones' spin-off. Released around the same time, and receiving much more favorable reviews, many viewers can't help comparing both the pace and story to each other. Citing the differences between each to what have now become rival shows.

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Is there still hope for The Rings of Power?

It can be hard to recognize the future of a show that has yet to air the entirety of its first season. The show will likely remain a costly endeavor, but if anyone can afford it, it's Amazon. Assuming that the show is not cancelled due to high costs or negative feedback, the series still has a chance to win back interest from its fans in its remaining episodes. One thing the show has certainly focused on this season is keeping an air of mystery about some of its plots and characters. There is potential, therefore, for renewed acclaim even from its most critical of viewers. And the opportunity to right some of the wrongs that Tolkien fans may be able to forgive for its previous discrepancies. The Lord of the Rings has a strong and loyal fan base for a reason. And they seem eager for The Rings of Power to live up to its potential. But is that potential still achievable, or is the series' fate now doomed?

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