The Caterwauling of The Rings of Power

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his food writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

Related Post Roulette

8 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw says:

    I always thought Tolkien was a bad writer (and I will take this view until the end of time and the heat death of the universe) but the Trilogy does make for entertaining movies with good special effects. I watched the first two episodes. As you note, they are firmly okay. A big issue is that they are slow and they are slow because there is a 50-episode buyin. If the series producers were told “You have 12-16 episodes! That’s it!!” things would be much better.Report

  2. The good news is that Tolkien wrote so little about the Second Age, and most of that little being how it ended, that this thing has little opportunity to ruin good characters the way Jackson did Gimli and Denethor.Report

    • PD Shaw in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I’m not sure he wrote so little as much as the studios only own the rights to so little of what was written about the Second Age. In the first Hobbit movie, Gandalf was sharing with Frodo how he arrived in Middle Earth with four other wizards, Sarauman, Radagast and two others whose names he had forgotten. This was an inside joke. He hadn’t forgotten, Gandalf knew he would be sued if he given their names.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    From what I understand, Gandalf is not in the story but Young Gandalf is. But since they didn’t buy the rights to Gandalf, they are calling him “The Stranger”.

    Part of the problem with Tolkien is that he didn’t know he was creating, like, an entire genre.

    He thought he was bringing one of the old ones back.

    So he does stuff like have the scenes take place not as they’re happening, but they have everybody show up at the campfire and they have the one guy say “here’s what happened to me!” and then you have a story with stuff happening and maybe there *MIGHT* be peril except YOU KNOW THE GUY IS TELLING THE STORY. And then the next guy says “Here’s what happened to me!” and you get another story that has absolutely zero peril in it whatsoever.

    Because that’s how stuff happened in Beowulf.

    I mean, Shakespeare was too recent for Tolkien. Shakespeare!

    The fact that his stories are oddly paced and spend more time imagining how awesome stuff was, once, instead of picking up swords and taking it to the baddies is because life has downright *STUPID* pacing and he’s doing his pacing compared to that. He’s just cleaning it up a bit.

    And you know how you find out what happened today? Well, you sit down and you eat and you say “Here’s what happened to me, what happened to you?” And that’s how everybody gets the story.

    And now we’re in this weird place where we’re comparing a post-Joseph Campbell/post-Save The Cat! storytelling algorithm to Tolkien.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

      At one level, Tolkien wrote British travel adventure fiction, a style that was popular early last century. Often described as “The characters travel for days/weeks and finally get to a place where something happens. Then the characters travel for days/weeks and get to another place where something happens. Then…” Repeat as many times as necessary. The places and their history are often as important as the characters.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain says:

        It’s more than possible to turn something like that into something that will fit the new Save the Cat! way of telling stories.

        You’re just going to make them significantly different than their source material and then everybody will start yelling at each other.Report

  4. InMD says:

    I’ve been wrestling with whether to start down the path of watching this show, what with football season about to start (not to mention actually having my baseball team be semi-relevant for the first time in like 7 years). In that light this review was not encouraging.

    In my gut I have always agreed with what I believe was the Christopher Tolkien take, that his father’s work was pretty uniquely unsuited to film. I might add especially the kind of serialized, streaming service crowd pleaser that this is no doubt intended to be. Maybe you could do something weird and experimental that appealed to hardcore fans and people who like to do drugs and watch avant-garde stuff late at night with some success, but probably not this.

    My suspicion is that we have already seen the best possible Tolkien-as-pop-culture on screen with the original trilogy, warts and all. Even then I think they got kind of lucky with Jackson and his quirky horror movie background (you can see the seeds of his approach to LoTR in the Frighteners). My suspicion is a lot of directors would have done far worse navigating the otherworldly and sentimental aspects along with the need for the thing to be at least a little bit of an event/popcorn flick.

    So of those who started does anyone seriously recommend it? For reference I would grade myself as something like a grade 6-7 out of 10 Tolkien nerd. LoTR and the Hobbit are special to me and I have read the appendixes and the Silmarillion. The aspects of it that appeal to me most is probably the Germanic mythology that inspired Tolkien…. but I’m also really excited for football. And my baseball team is in the hunt.Report

  5. Damon says:

    I’m not going to see this series for a while.

    1) I got other things going on, and
    2) 2 episodes isn’t really enough to judge. I’ll probably wait a while, forget about it, and find it a few years from now….but, I am enjoying the “review” wars:

    “On Amazon itself, it has…nothing, because Amazon has disabled reviews of the series entirely. Normally when you watch an Amazon show or movie, whether it’s an original or not, it will have user star ratings there. But Rings of Power has zero reviews listed because Amazon didn’t want to be broadcasting its premiere with a low score right next to it, no doubt.”

    “On Rotten Tomatoes, while its critics score is 84%, it has a 36% audience score.”
    “On IMDB (which Amazon owns) it has a 6.2/10 with 25% of reviews being 1 star.”

    LOL Cowards. You paid a billion dollars. Own it!

    This alone is to be expected, though. I can’t tell you how many movies I’ve seen that have 1 or 2 starts ratings by “experts” and have been fantastic, and the reverse. Methinks the critics are not rating for enjoyment but for other issues. I do miss Gene Shalit.Report