Amazon’s Big Gamble Pays Off with ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ (Review)

by | Sep 1, 2022

The prequel series premieres tonight on Prime Video at 8:00PM CST

Before a single piece of footage was ever released, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power had all the makings for an eventual documentary or “based on a true story” film about how much of a disaster the series could have been. You could argue that the lead up to tonight’s two-episode premiere of the series is almost as big as the story The Rings of Power will show its viewers. 

Former president and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, wanted his own Game of Thrones series for Prime Video. So, the company bought the television rights for The Lord of the Rings for $250 million, which included a clause that the company had to commit to making at least two seasons of whatever series was produced. The first season of The Rings of Power has a $250 million budget and is being overseen by two showrunners with little prior experience. On top of all of that, the series features no big-name stars and hasn’t been in a good place in the almost 20 years since the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. (Everyone knows The Hobbit trilogy doesn’t sit in the same arena as the original trilogy.) 

So, to recap: a series that cost half a billion dollars that begins its eight-episode season tonight is being overseen by two showrunners with little experience, has no big-name stars attached to it, and is based on the works of an author’s world that hasn’t been in the best of shape in almost 20 years. 

All of this has the makings for a disaster, right? 

However, Prime Video may have pulled off television’s biggest surprise of the year with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which is not just good, but very good in its initial launch. 

The scale and scope of the series not only looks massive but has an almost theatrical feel when the story takes you through areas and communities that inhabit Middle-earth; I can only imagine how this would have played out if I had seen it in a movie theater. Also, a more frequent negative in big-budget shows these days is how visual effects fail to immerse you in whatever story you’re watching unfold. But that definitely is not the case with The Rings of Power, where everything looks gorgeous and quite expensive, given how much detail each scene contains. Add to that a sweeping epic score from composer Bear McCreary to top things off, and you get a sense of how much money was poured into all of this. 

While we will not spoil any storylines from the series (and because we’re under embargo from revealing any story specifics), I will say this about The Rings of Power: not only is it accessible, it features some quality introductions to the series’ lead characters along with some great world-building that sets things up for what should be an epic story over the course of the next six weeks. 

A large credit to the two-episode premiere goes to visionary director J.A. Bayona. It will be interesting to see how other directors handle the remaining episodes of this first season, but The Rings of Power is off to a great start. As someone who is not a big fan of the Lord of the Rings properties, it’s impressive how good this series is for someone who isn’t entrenched in the lore of this fantasy world. So, I can only imagine that fans of all things Lord of the Rings will be very happy with this series. 

Prime Video has been looking for a sizeable epic to bring in more viewers to its streaming service that also would compete with the banner shows from other current streamers, including Netflix with Stranger Things and HBO Max with House of the Dragon. Right now, it appears that Prime Video has found that sizeable epic in The Rings of Power, which is arguably as good as a half a billion dollars can buy in the current landscape of the streaming wars. 

615 Film was given the first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power for review. All images courtesy of Prime Video.