With high expectations and massive media attention, ‘The Rings of Power’ was hailed as the next big thing in entertainment. But, as time has unfolded, the promise seems to have fallen short of expectations. Today, we’re diving deep into the reasons behind the underwhelming performance of ‘The Rings of Power.’
Unmet Expectations Set by Predecessors
One of the pressures on ‘The Rings of Power’ was the success of previous epic series like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ These masterpieces have set the bar high when it comes to narrative depth, character arcs, and world-building.
Fans expected ‘The Rings of Power’ to meet or even surpass these standards, but it appears that this new venture couldn’t entirely deliver on those fronts. The series was criticized for appearing too generic or closely mirroring images from Peter Jackson’s film trilogy.
Deviations That Strayed Too Far
While every adaptation requires some level of creative liberty, certain decisions were seen as more divisive than innovative.
For instance, Galadriel’s portrayal as a warrior, donning armor and partaking in battles, diverged from the original Tolkien literature. For many dedicated fans, this was a point of contention, feeling it deviated unnecessarily from a beloved character’s essence.
Another choice that raised eyebrows was the bearded dwarf wife, absent from ‘The Rings of Power.’ According to the lore in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,’ female dwarves are indistinguishable from males due to their beards. Seeing Princess Disa with no beard at all led to confusion and debate over its authenticity within the series’ world.
The attempt to make Harfoots endearing, including giving them fake Irish accents, was criticized for poor portrayal and potential insensitivity. Moreover, some fans noticed that the dwarves in the series used ‘Aule’ instead of ‘Mahal’ when referring to their deity, which was not lore-friendly.
The Visuals vs. Narrative Balance
While ‘The Rings of Power’ had impressive visual feats, some argued the aesthetics occasionally overshadowed narrative authenticity. The decisions to design an armored Galadriel or a dwarf wife with no facial hair seemed to prioritize visual appeal, which, to some, came at the expense of genuine storytelling.
The stylistic choice in filming scenes (like Galadriel defeating the snow troll) broke the immersion. Besides, many believed some actors didn’t fit their roles, leading to a disconnect between characters and their portrayals.
Many designs were seen as aesthetically pleasing but not functional. Some found the costumes appear ‘brand new,‘ and the elven armor looked poorly crafted and not as grand as expected. On the other hand, short hair on elves was seen as a contemporary look, which was also considered immersion-breaking.
Navigating Modern Themes
Incorporating themes of racism and representation was a move to modernize and resonate with today’s audience. However, critiques have surfaced suggesting the treatment of these subjects either lacked sufficient depth or seemed forced, causing rifts in audience reception. Besides, the casting of people of color, particularly with Lenny Henry as a proto-hobbit, led to review bombing for ‘wokeness’ and the need for Prime Video to implement a 72-hour delay for all user reviews.
Competition and the Feedback Loop
With the rise of social media, fans and critics can instantly share their opinions. While this has many advantages, it can also lead to a snowball effect of negative feedback. As initial episodes of ‘The Rings of Power’ received mixed reviews, the subsequent word-of-mouth seemed to deter potential new viewers.
After seeing this backlash they received, ‘The Rings of Power’ co-showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay declared that they plan to respond to the negative reviews with season 2 of the series. The eight-episode season is expected to premiere in 2024 on Amazon Prime Video, so it seems we will have to wait with our fingers crossed.