Amazon Prime Video takes its big swing in the big budget fantasy TV genre with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series. The prequel series, with premieres its first two episodes on September 1, 2022, will bring to life J.R.R. Tolkien’s telling of the Second Age of Middle-earth. It takes place thousands of years before the events of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Rings of Power cast includes Morfydd Clark (His Dark Materials), Nazanin Boniadi (Counterpart, Homeland), Peter Mullan (The Underground Railroad, Westworld), Benjamin Walker (Jessica Jones), Lenny Henry (The Sandman), Robert Aramayo (Game of Thrones, The King’s Man), Markella Kavenagh (Picnic at Hanging Rock), Ema Horvath (Like.Share.Follow., Don’t Look Deeper), Charles Edwards (The Crown), Ismael Cruz Cordova (Berlin Station, Ray Donovan), and more.

The expectations are high for The Rings of Power. After viewing the first two episodes on Amazon Prime Video, here’s what some critics had to say.

How Does It Compare To The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Movies?

“The Rings of Power presents something familiar, but freshened up enough to make the visit worthwhile for established fans and Tolkien newbies.” — Erin Carson, CNET

“It’s a series that wants dearly to set itself apart as a fresh take on the material, right down to setting itself an entire age before the adventures of Frodo Baggins and his Fellowship. But it also does everything it can to stir our nostalgia for the Jackson films, from costume to music to overall design, which can occasionally make it like a store-brand version of the same.” — Clint Worthington, RogerEbert.com

“The opening episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power invoke the feel of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in all the right ways as a terrific character-driven introduction to the series.” — Kyle Wilson, The Lamplight Review

“The similarities between The Rings of Power and Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films create an interesting visual bond between the projects. After watching The Rings of Power, it’s easy to imagine how the Middle-earth depicted in the Amazon series could eventually transform into the decaying, almost post-apocalyptic world featured in the Jackson films.” — Alex Welch, Inverse

How Is The Cast of The Rings of Power?

“We see younger versions of Elrond (Robert Aramayo, “Game of Thrones”), now an intellectually curious politician serving under King Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker). And of course, there’s Galadriel (“Saint Maud”’s Morfydd Clark), an elven warrior consumed by vengeance against Sauron for killing her brother. Both turn in fine performances—Aramayo’s gentle, lantern-jawed face is an exciting starting point to lead us to Hugo Weaving’s calcified administrator in the Jackson films, and Clark’s wily warrior still feels like Cate Blanchett even as her silver-plated armor evokes “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” as much as Galadriel.” — Clint Worthington, RogerEbert.com

“With the possible exceptions of Kavenagh and Arthur, no one gives a performance that truly stands out in this early stretch of the story. That said, spending more time with any of them should be far from a chore, and we look forward to following the characters’ various journeys.” — Mark Meszoros, The News-Herald (Willoughby, OH)

“Elanor Brandyfoot will steal your heart with her curiosity.” — Julian Roman, MovieWeb

“Dwarven Durin and his wife Disa provide some warmth and comic relief, not unlike Gimli in the trilogy, which is a welcome breath, tonally.” — Erin Carson, CNET

How Is The Production Value?

“Adjectives like “bold” and “ambitious” are par for the course when it comes to this franchise, and they absolutely apply to what we’ve seen so far of the show. It’s the kind of show that deserves to be seen on the big screen instead of on your phone.” — David Opie, Digital Spy

“I can say that it looks gorgeous, especially within the confines of streaming television. While it suffers from some instances of flat TV lighting, and some of the green-screen effects don’t instill the same sense of awe as the Jackson films, there are some jaw-dropping vistas and elegantly designed creature effects to behold.” — Clint Worthington, RogerEbert.com

“A map of Middle-earth helps convey a sense of geography, but what helps the most is that filming occurred in New Zealand, not on a green screen stage. The fantasy world looks real because they are in a physical place that happens to be the same one in which the movies filmed, too.” — Fred Topel, United Press International

​​”Directed by A Monster Calls filmmaker J.A. Bayona, the first two episodes are as visually stunning as any Hollywood blockbuster in recent memory. The series is so refreshingly bright, colorful, and intricately designed that it’s difficult not to be simply blown away at times by what Bayona and co. have accomplished.” — Alex Welch, Inverse

Some Final Thoughts About The Rings of Power

“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is a series with good bones. It has a strong cast, the action is stellar, and the plots are interesting. Yet, I was left wanting something more. I don’t want to be interested, I want to be excited.” — Jamie Lovett, ComicBook.com

“While there’s still a whole season to watch, The Rings of Power is off to a successful start in delivering on its promise of quality and firing on all cylinders.” — Therese Lacson, Collider

“The Rings of Power definitely feels like The Lord of the Rings and the atmosphere of Middle-earth is there; however, the first episode leaves more questions than answers.” — Matthew Haynes, Matthewvhaynes (YouTube)

“The series’ introduction feels like a fresh return to the visuals and characters Peter Jackson brought to life in live-action, while digging deep into the Tolkien’s endless expansive history of Middle-earth. Everything is both familiar and new, and I think I’m quite ready for another adventure.” — Kyle Wilson, The Lamplight Review

“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has some big shoes to fill but if the first two episodes are any indication, audiences are in for a treat.” — Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

The first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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