Like the Eagles of Manwë (That’s right. We’re getting nerdy right out of the gate.), the first reviews for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are swooping in, and the consensus is clear: Every dollar that Amazon spent can be seen on the screen. In fact, one critic went so far to say that the visual effects make House of the Dragon look like a child’s video game. More importantly, The Rings of Power goes deep into Middle-earth lore as it weaves J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendary world-building with epic cinematic wonder that fans of the Peter Jackson films have come to expect. In short (not a Hobbit pun), the series looks fantastic, and it’s attention to characters and detail are here to reward fans of both the books and the blockbuster movies alike.
Here’s what critics are saying about the first two episodes of The Rings of Power:
James Whitbrook, io9:
Here’s the long and short of it, or Ent and Hobbit of it if you’re already packing your bags to be whisked off to Middle-earth again: The Rings of Power is The Lord of the Rings through and through. It looks incredible, it bursts with hope, and, above all, it’s very long and takes a bit of time getting going. This is said with all the love and affection the world has had for Peter Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings films—and their slightly-less beloved successors in the Hobbit trilogy—themselves known, especially in their extended editions, for likewise being epic endeavors to sit down and watch.
Joelle Monique, The Wrap:
It’s rare to feel that one is stepping into another world; the seams of our reality are frequently present. Get lost in the beauty of this series. While it may feel heavy, there is an attempt to bring in comedy and heart with the dwarves, and the writers and directors (J.A. Bayona directs the first two installments) have tapped beautifully into fantasy-romance and horror to bring layers of texture to the script. Overall, “Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power” makes for an engaging and awe-inspiring watch.
Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter:
Through two episodes made available for critics, The Rings of Power works far better than the three-year publicity build-up led me to fear. The first episode is dedicated primarily to world-building, exposition and proving that storytelling on this scale can be executed for television and generally succeeds, even if some of that exposition lags. Then in the second episode, the story starts to actually move along and there are characters and scenes that I found utterly charming in the way a show like this requires for long-term survival, even if some of the effects and epic scale diminish a tiny bit.
Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian:
It is so rich and gorgeous that it is easy to spend the first episode simply gawping at the landscapes, as it swoops and swooshes between the lands of elves and dwarves, humans and harfoots. This is TV that is made for big screens, although surely destined to be watched on smaller ones. It is so cinematic and grand that it makes House of the Dragon look as if it has been cobbled together on Minecraft.
Dave Nemetz, TVLine:
Rings of Power is not just good, it’s great: a gorgeously immersive and grandly ambitious spectacle packed with stunning imagery and compelling plot threads. Most importantly, it captures the same sense of awe we felt while watching the Lord of the Rings movies — one we don’t often get to experience on the small screen.
Therese Lacson, Collider:
This is only an offering of the sheer scope of Amazon’s series, which feels absolutely immense. From the tempestuous Sundering Seas to the glorious halls of the dwarven kings, each location is richly created. It’s clear how much of the budget went into making these places look as magical as imagined. On top of that, composer Bear McCreary’s soundtrack plays off the familiar tunes of Howard Shore’s iconic soundtrack and instantly tugs at the heartstrings of anyone who would find themselves affected by the music of Middle-earth.
Charles Pulliam-Moore, The Verge:
Regardless of whether it’s streaming or airing on traditional networks, it’s rare that a series lives up to its studio’s dreams of it simultaneously feeling like a bingeable TV show and like a big, expensive cinematic event. Between a slate of strong performances, an eye for impactful minutiae, and a solid sense of its own ability to grow beyond the canon that it’s not technically a part of, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power definitely seems like it could be just that.
Caroline Framke, Variety:
For now, however, it’s safe to say that Amazon throwing the weight of its coffers at this property has resulted in a perfectly winning adaptation that unfolds swashbuckling adventures with clear reverence and affection for the considerable mythos behind it. As the series forges ahead, combining storylines and leaving literal translation from page to screen behind, it will be telling to see just how ably “The Rings of Power” can stay rooted in its venerable source material while, inevitably, bending it into something new.
The first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiere September 21 on Amazon Prime Video with new episodes arriving each Thursday.