Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for the season finale of The Lord of the Rings: Ring of Thrones.
The first season of The Lord of the Rings: Ring of Might has ended, and more seasons are planned. However, Amazon’s real battle may be to convince everyone that its very expensive — and mostly impressive — bet on JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth saga has been an exhilarating success.
Amazon has acted as if it’s excited about the show’s execution and performance, with Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salk touting its audience numbers in an interview with Variety, while noting that the first season did “the hard work of identifying who all these characters are.” .
However, after initial reviews praising its scope and visual grandeur, more critical voices have drifted into opposing columns, noting – as The Daily Telegraph’s Duncan Lay put it – that the series “both pretentious boring again.”
Erik Kain of Forbes made a similar noise, writing that after its opening, Ring of Thrones has proved that “once the flash fades, a poorly written show can end in How quickly it disappears.”
Some barbs from critics are to be expected, and the early controversy surrounding the series and HBO’s “House of the Dragon” — which involved more inclusion of people of color and shattered the monochromatic nature of these mythological worlds — may help To distract, or delay, a more fundamental observation of the show and its flaws.
The eighth/season finale underscores this, offering belated revelations about Sauron and his identity, while showing the actual forging of the ring, lovingly filmed amid the fading threat.
At 70+ minutes, it mirrors the entire season: beautiful, with some visually striking moments, but slow and bloated. “House of the Dragon” used a multi-year time-jump to get ahead, generating a ton of buzz and ratings in the process, while “Lord of the Rings” — unlike Peter Jackson’s trilogy — delivered with a kind of Works closer to a crawl. Heck, it took seven episodes to see the name Mordor flash across the screen.
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Students of the Tolkien classics can clearly revel in it, poring over the smallest details. Still, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this slow progress has less to do with the service story and more to prolong the story’s calculations, given the promise — and perhaps the need to justify Amazon’s investment – to make fun of this multiple seasons.
For Amazon, these Lord of the Rings expenditures — in the hundreds of millions of dollars in total — put pressure on not just an academic exercise, but an asset that could significantly impact the company’s long-term commitment to streaming.
Like Apple, Amazon invests heavily in content creation, even if it’s not its core business. As a result, these deep-pocketed tech companies have different priorities than studios like Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery (CNN’s parent company) because making movies and TV is a peripheral to Amazon, not the core of its corporate mission.
Amazon has delivered big hits, including the boundary-pushing superhero satire “The Boys” and the Emmy-winning “Fantastic Mrs.” Messer. In a short period of time, the company has become a major player in the entertainment space.
Reflecting the company’s high-stakes bet, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was personally involved in acquiring rights from Tolkien’s estate back in 2017. But Hollywood’s history is littered with outsiders trying to buy into the industry, then get their noses bleed, and ultimately plot a strategic retreat.
It’s become popular to refer to certain big companies as “too big to fail,” and in TV terminology, the “ring of power” is as big as them. However, once you get past the hype machine, the series has yet to earn a place in the top realm of TV fantasy, let alone claim to rule them all.