The upcoming Lord of the Rings show, The Rings of Power, worked hard to recreate the magic of Middle-earth. And it seems like it’s succeeded.
The new Lord of the Rings spin-off adaptation, The Rings of Power, has been met with some concerns from fans. After the Hobbit films received a less than stellar reception, it’s hard to feel confident that this new series will capture the magic of the original trilogy.
However, a recent preview screening that Amazon held for Tolkien fans has reinstated some faith, as fans claimed that the show transported them back into the fantastical setting of Middle-earth.
This is due to the wonderful set designs, costumes, and the storylines that the show is exploring. And of course, the direction of showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay.
The Rings of Power feels like Middle-earth, despite showing new locations
The Rings of Power expands Middle-earth, as it introduces the new Island of Númenor. Tolkien describes Númenor as the greatest human civilization in Middle-earth’s history, a beacon that influenced the rest of the world. However, kingdoms always fall, and this island falls into the ocean like a Middle-earth Atlantis.
This originally opulent human kingdom was built by set designer Ramsey Avery, who spared no detail, and certainly no expense, as the show is expected to be the most expensive show ever made, with a budget currently over a whopping $1 billion.
According to an Entertainment Weekly interview with Wayne Che Yip, one of the series’ directors, the kingdom – which was based in New Zealand – had essentially been built from the ground up, and was “just breathtaking.”
“We were there for weeks, but every day I’d notice a new detail I’d never seen before, like graffiti etched into weathered stone, or a small shrine. There was a whole wall made out of oyster shells. Every corner you’d turn, there was just so much storytelling.”
The setting being part of the story was a main goal of the entire cast and crew. “It needs to feel the way you feel when you are in Middle-earth,” showrunner McKay noted. “It needs to pull you in and make you fall in love the way you fall in love with those books.”
Payne continued, “If people come out of this feeling like they’ve gone to Middle-earth, that’s such a special thing. Middle-earth fills us with hope, and it inspires us. There’s a reason why people reach to Middle-earth when they’re going through hard times.”
The fan devotion to the original trilogy and books is what drove The Rings of Power showrunners to concentrate on every detail in Númenor: “It was one place that we were just laser-focused on saying, ‘We need to get this right,'” Payne states. “It’s never been seen before. People have some ideas of what elves look like or what dwarves look like and what those kingdoms might look like. But Númenor was, in some ways, a blank canvas.”
And thankfully, this effort seems to have paid off, as at a recent Amazon screening, which previewed 20 minutes of the show to some super-fans, Payne and McKay hid in the back, and heard one audience ember state that the show “felt like Middle-earth.” And after hearing that, Payne, “spontaneously burst into tears. I was like, ‘That’s all I wanted to have happen!'”
What is the Rings of Power about?
The Rings of Power is an adaption of the Tolkien’s extensive notes that published in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings. Despite their relatively little showrunning experience, Payne and McKay are self-proclaimed Tolkien geeks, and their show is a based on a story that they had always wanted to see on screen: the Second Age.
The Second Age occurs thousands of years before Bilbo or Frodo’s stories, and travels from peaceful times to full-on conflict, from the forging of the rings to the rise of Sauron. Within Middle-earth, the elves have founded the kingdom of Lindon, and the dwarves are at the height of their power, living in the underground realm of Khazad-dûm.
Within this story is also the island of Númenor. It is ruled by the queen regent Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), and this seemingly idyllic paradise begins cracking as the tension between elves and humans grow, and many begin fearing their own mortality.
The showrunners were adamant in that this show isn’t a prequel or sequel, but it’s own story: “We were not interested in doing a show about the younger version of the same world you knew, where it’s a little bit of a prequel,” McKay explained. “We wanted to go way, way, way back and find a story that could exist on its own two feet. This was one that we felt hadn’t been told on the level and the scale and with the depth that we felt it deserved.”
When and where can I watch The Rings of Power?
The Rings of Power will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on September 2.
So grab your sword, your bow, and your axe, and get ready to head back to Middle-earth!