“The past is dead. We either move forward, or we die with it,” Lloyd Owen as Elendil the Númenórean says in the second teaser for “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” Well, nobody told that to Amazon, which has put a huge bet on a prequel to the beloved “Lord of the Rings” trilogy that has made a tremendous mark on popular culture for nearly 70 years.
The project is set during Middle-earth’s “Second Age,” thousands of years before anything that has been seen before—but that doesn’t mean there isn’t connective tissue, mainly in the form of the Elf characters Galadriel and Elrond, played by Morfydd Clark and Robert Aramayo. The teaser also shows us familial places like the Dwarf mines, the Misty Mountains, and the Elven city of Rivendell.
“The Rings of Power” is not based on any one specific J.R.R. Tolkien work, but collated from various stories, sketches, and “unfinished tales” published after the author’s death by his son, Christopher Tolkien.
Amazon purchased the rights to these heretofore unadapted Tolkien properties for a whopping $250 million in November 2017, and committed to a $1 billion production budget across five seasons, a record in this or any other Realm.
This first season of adventurous quests through forbidden lands and magical worlds debuts on September 2, on a week-by-week model. As it happens, HBO is releasing a highly visible fantasy prequel of its own, “Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon,” beginning on August 21. Dungeons and Dragons-playing dorks shall have their meade-cups overrunneth with winged beasts, charmed weapons, and wispy-haired women gazing off onto snowy fields.
In terms of audience engagement, “House of the Dragon” has an edge considering that franchise’s founder, George R.R. Martin, tends to lean into the sex and violence a bit more than the pious philologist J.R.R. Tolkien. (These guys love letters in their names!) But never count a Hobbit (or a Harfoot, the breed of Hobbits seen in “The Rings of Power”) out! They have a tendency to vanquish their foes, whatever the odds.
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