A NEW AND FAMILIAR CAST OF CHARACTERS
Of course, all of this spectacle and majesty would be nothing if the audience didn’t connect with the characters. Thankfully, The Rings of Power does a fantastic job in that area as well.
The Rings of Power introduces us to a plethora of different characters played by a mostly unknown cast, but the highlight is Morfydd Griffin as Galadriel. The elven warrior was played by Cate Blanchett in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where she was mostly a supporting character who aided the Fellowship in their journey. Here, she takes front and center, and Griffin plays the younger version of Galadriel with a grace and charm that seems effortless. The Rings of Power gives us a much closer look into the personality and character of her character, and it’s amazing to see a Tolkien project that features a woman as its primary protagonist! It’s about dang time!!
In addition to Galadriel, The Rings of Power also features another familiar character in the form of Elrond. This elven lord was played by Hugo Weaving in the films, and he is played by Robert Aramayo in this series. Aramayo does a respectable job filling the shoes of his predecessor, and though his portrayal of Elrond might take a little bit more warming up to than Galadriel, the audience will no doubt connect with his performance by the second episode. His friendship with the Dwarven prince Durin is a highlight of the series thus far, and I can’t wait to see more of their character interactions in future episodes.
Outside of Galadriel and Elrond, The Rings of Power features a spectacularly diverse cast of new characters, and it is AMAZING to see this much diversity in Middle Earth! Whether its the elves, dwarves, men, or Harfoots (the ancestors of the hobbits), all of the races of Middle Earth feature prominent actors of color.
Once again, its about time!!!
There are a LOT of great characters in these first two episodes, but two of the biggest highlights are the dwarf Princess Disa (played by Sophia Nomvete), and the elf warrior Arondir (played by Ismael Cruz Cordova).
Disa is the wife of Prince Durin (played by Owain Arthur), who dwells with her husband in the fan-favorite kingdom of Khazad-dum. They make a great pair, and their chemistry and comedy was one of the best parts of the second episode. Meanwhile, the elf Arondir is caught up in a “forbidden love” story with the human woman Bronwyn, played by Nazanin Boniadi. While some of their scenes might come across as a bit heavy-handed, their relationship nevertheless adds a dash of romance and angst to the story that I still found to be enjoyable.
Finally, we have the tiny character of Nori (played by Markella Kavenaugh) who is one of the genetic ancestors of the hobbits known as the Harfoots. Long before these diminutive people settled down and formed towns and villages in the Shire, the Harfoots were wandering nomads who were simple in their ambitions and ravenous in their cravings for food.
Similar to Bilbo and Frodo, Nori is a naïve halfling who makes a discovery that will lead her on a journey to the outside world, and yet she puts her own unique stamp on the role. The worldbuilding amogst the Harfoots here is equally familiar and unique, and it is Nori’s shocking discovery that will surely be a driving mystery for much of The Rings of Power.
If there’s any criticism that I have about The Rings of Power, it’s the sheer amount of exposition. Similar to The Fellowship of the Ring, the first episode of The Rings of Power throws a lot of information at you. The prologue alone features a lot of names and events that the audience has to remember, and while many viewers won’t baulk at this at all, other casual audiences might find it a lot to take in.
As with any fantasy series, the showrunners have to introduce the audience to the world, and I feel that these episodes mostly knocked it out of the park. However, there may be some who feel bogged down by the pace, to which I say, stick with it!
CONCLUSION: IS IT TOO EARLY TO CALL THE RINGS OF POWER A MASTERPIECE?
All in all, the first two episodes of The Rings of Power were a positively jaw-dropping spectacle. I was amazed at the size and scope of the project, and how well they were able to bring the majesty of Middle Earth to a streaming series. I fell in love with each of the characters in their own way, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the series has in store for them.
I have to hand it to J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, who developed the show and also serve as showrunners and executive producers. Their work is groundbreaking, and I imagine that it will prove to be a key turning point in the history of modern television.
In short, The Rings of Power fires on all cylinders. Whether its the cinematography, score, writing, acting, set design, costume design, practical effects, special effects…everything in this show is on it’s A-Game. Watch out Game of Thrones, there’s a new sheriff in town…
ILLUMINERDI SCORE: 10/10
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series debuts exclusively on Amazon Prime September 2, 2022. Let us know what you thought of the series over on our social media!