The first 40 seconds of the two minutes and 32 seconds look like remixed tales of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies. There are grand sweeping shots over mountains and hill crests to reveal grand castle-like structures built into vertiginous rocky outcrops or elven buildings seemingly mingled with improbably golden woods.
As these shots sweep away, a voice that's almost certainly riffing off Cate Blantchet’s Galadriel (and is likely Morfydd Clark’s voice as she’s playing the new Galadriel in Rings of Power), talks of ancient times before the first sunrise.
That’s a promising sign, as Jackson’s interpretation of J R.R. Tolkien’s works are widely regarded as masterpieces. And with a budget of $465 million, it’s no surprise The Rings of Power looks set to deliver some spectacular shots. But the first Rings of Power trailer didn’t exactly bowl me over with some odd pacing and slightly ropey CGI; this new one comes out swinging and far better establishes the tone and setting.
As the trailer goes on we get first look at the some key characters, such as Isildur (Maxim Baldry), Elendil (Lloyd Owen), King Pharazôn (Trystan Gravelle) and Queen Regent Míriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). And with them come our first look at the island of Númenor, where some pivotal events of Middle-earth’s Second Age take place, setting up the foundations for the events of the LotR’s books.
This is set to involve the elves and dwarves too, with the trailer showing off their respective realms of Lindon and Eregion. Hobbits will also feature in the form of the Harfoots, who are seen heading towards land that looks a lot like the Shire (it was the Harfoots who originally traveled from Middle-earth's Misty Mountains to what then became the Shire).
As the trailer’s description explains, this will all take place during “a time of relative peace” in the Second Age, where powers were forged and kingdoms rose. But as the trailer progresses, it shows how Galadriel is worried of the risk of a new dark power in Middle-earth. And that power is Sauron, who we may have been granted a peek at with a humanoid figure who manages to tame what appears to be a flaming pit.
Analysis: Will The Rings of Power be strong enough?
The question that remains is whether The Rings of Power will be able to deliver all this world building but also present a compelling and tight story, that’s more than just British actors earnestly saying the end is nigh for Middle-earth or how “the past is dead.”
And the action sequences will need to live up to the production values of the movies, if The Rings of Power aims to avoid the uncanny valley look of sub-par CGI; one clip of a man jumping and sideway pirouetting over a warg looks a bit mediaeval Matrix for my liking. But so far Rings of Power has my attention, and looks to have more in common with the LotR movies than the overcooked Hobbit flicks.
If nothing else, we know the stories of the Second Age, meaning showrunners J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay won't have to make up their own endings, as that didn't go so well for the last big fantasy epic Game of Thrones.
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