As soon as it became known that Amazon plans to film a series based on John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s materials that precede “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”, criticism began that something like that should not be touched at all. That Peter Jackson, with the brilliant “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which was followed by the weaker, stretched “Hobbit” trilogy, extracted everything that could and should be extracted from Tolkien’s books. However, the owner of Amazon apparently did not think so, and in 2017 the rights to Tolkien’s other books were bought and a budget of one billion dollars was approved for five seasons of the series, the plot of which will precede the one filmed by Jackson.
Real outpourings of hatred and ridicule started as soon as the first photos of the series appeared, which is set thousands of years before “The Hobbit” and “The Lord” and covers the period of the Second Age of Middle-earth. After the combined forces of elves, humans and dwarves defeated evil for the first time, it nevertheless survived again and threatens to destroy the world again. Numerous criticisms related to the fact that in Tolkien’s universe all the characters were white, and on the wave of today’s woke culture, the creators of the series Patrick McKay and John D. Payne decided to racially mix the characters quite a bit, so we have actors who are black and Asian and Latinos.
The realization that all the characters are not white, as Tolkien supposedly imagined them, was not the slightest problem for me, and the very thought that someone is bothered by the fact that the characters in the fantasy are of different races is complete idiocy. It’s not that I’m a particular fan of Tolkien, I was maybe when I was 12 or 13 years old when I read all his books, but it’s simply incomprehensible to me that someone could be bothered by the fact that in a series whose genre is FANTASY, one of the characters is black. Let’s say, I am much more annoyed by situations when in some historical, period dramas that are considered serious, characters are pushed who could not possibly have been of that race in that period.
I wasn’t one of those who was furious about that racial diversity in the new LOTR, I was more afraid that some amateurs would screw up the world created by Peter Jackson and that Amazon’s series would look cheap. However, that did not happen and LOTR visually looks impressive, as if it was made for the big cinema screen, and not the small screens of televisions or, God forbid, laptops. It is not even close to the cheap and bad CGI that we may be used to in many Hollywood films, which would actually be tragic considering the budget, but visually it seems unsurpassed. Once again, great locations were found and the series was filmed in New Zealand, which also served as Jakcson’s backdrop for his trilogies.
In the end, LOTR exceeded expectations and the first eight-part season turned out to be even better than I expected, perhaps partly because I myself fell under the influence of the mockery and heckling of the series before it even came out. Perhaps also for the reason that I was afraid that it would be a monumental thrash, this turned out to be a pleasant surprise in which we have a lot of characters and in the beginning it may take some time to grasp who is who and what his role is. We have some characters like Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) or Elrond (Robert Aramayo), elves who also appear in Jakcson’s trilogies. We also have dwarves, humans, orcs and harfoots who, if I understood correctly, are the forerunners of the hobby, and there is, of course, good old Saruman, whom we will only meet at the very end of the season.
Just like in “Masters”, we follow several parallel narrative lines in which the stories around these numerous characters develop, and their stories will begin to merge with each other towards the end. Unlike “The Master”, there are also a lot of female characters, which is also completely in line with the spirit of the times, not only some secondary, episodic, but also the main protagonists. And the actors are really up to the task, and a good job was done in terms of casting (mostly), just as in terms of direction, which was accepted by the Spaniard JA Bayona (Orfanato, The Impossible, A Monster Calls), the Briton of Chinese origin Wayne Yip, who previously directed episodes of the series “Utopia” and “Dr. Who” and the experienced Swede Charlotte Brändström, who has been directing on television for thirty years.