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Rings of Power: Three Threads for the Elven Lords (book spoilers)


Werthead
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Lets compromise:

If Tolkien wrote the story of the Second Age as a narrative with the same skill and quality as The Lord of the Rings or Silmarillion, it would be better than Rings of Power.

There, settled!

(I have no idea this is true, not watching RoP, but I gather no one, not even fans of the show, genuinely think it's superlative television, much less perfect Tolkienia)

Edited by Ran
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4 minutes ago, DMC said:

Again, you don't need to apologize - and there's definitely no reason for the big preamble.  You're entitled to your opinion and I'm entitled to mine.

:lol:

All right. Well, even if you find my persistent dislike of this show overly judgemental, that's not going to stop me enjoying your posts and you as a fellow boarder.

6 minutes ago, DMC said:

No, that's not the point.  The point is didn't even write a narrative.  He wrote a 30 page summary.  That's not a "story."

That's fine, call it what you will. I found the "summary" entertaining. The show is not. Tolkien's version was better.

Anyway, we clearly are at odds on definitions, so I think we'll just have to let this one be a case of "agree to disagree".

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I can’t really compare the writing to Tolkien as it’s been so long since I read it I can’t remember, but everything so far is well below Jackson LOTR level , and I mean everything.

The whole show is workmanlike and uninspired, which I guess is my main gripe with it. The writing does a job, gets the point across, but it isn’t memorable, the lines are delivered by very average performances, forgettable performances. The story is plodding along without actually getting a point where it seems to mean anything , it certainly isn’t gripping. 
 

I also don’t think it’s all that beautiful, I am really unenthused by massive sprawling CGI cities, which movies don’t have that these days? Comparing that to a real life building made in the plains of New Zealand to look like Rohan and it’s not contest which is more awe inspiring. 
 

The way the series is shot and directed lacks any sort of visual flair or artistry, it’s flat and unengaging, each shot is straight out of the functional tool box.

This is a show designed to do a job, it’s not a work of artistry, which would have been too much to ask I guess, but it’s disappointing.

Mostly I’m disappointed in how little emotions it instils in me. I don’t feel anger at it, I don’t love it, I am completely unengaged with it. Maybe it will hit a peak and start to hook me but so far it’s just sort of there 

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I still find it bemusing that the OG LotR trilogy used miniatures, bigatures and real, on-location filming and everybody agreed that it looked absolutely fantastic and the main takeaway from Hollywood and the people who made the trilogy was "Great, let's now use fake-looking CGI for everything!" The Hobbit trilogy had relatively little of the great New Zealand landscapes from the first trilogy and Rings of Power is making oddly little use of them as well despite being there, which is probably why they decided they could move to the UK to film future seasons.

Whilst House of the Dragon looks great, it is overrelying on CG as well. Filming the Dragonstone steps scene on a greenscreen (or possibly their Volume setup) looks much faker than using the real steps location in Spain like they did for GoT. The tourney scene in HotD was much better than the comparable scene from GoT, but at least in GoT they were in a real forest with a real setup. There's lots of shows which use CG imperceptibly and you don't know it's been done, but that's not the case for either of these.

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My guess is that contractually it’s just easier to keep hiring these effects houses to pump out computer generated designs , and it’s probably cheaper for those houses to do everything in computer than go and build a huge location. Not sure why they don’t use more miniatures though, wasn’t Minas Tirith a miniature in part as well? That was a shit ton more impressive to look at than any part of Numenor I just watched.

Maybe the only impressive part in the last episode was that they might have created some sort of water stage to film the port.  But even that looked pretty flat and you could pretty much see the edges.

 

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11 minutes ago, Werthead said:

(or possibly their Volume setup)

It was the Volume for that particular scene. The only real part of the shot was a section of the bridge. 

Both shows do have some very large, built sets. They've talked about the fact that a substantial set was built for the Númenórean city, and HotD has a massive, inter-connected Red Keep set.

I wonder if the whole bigature thing not being done is just because it's actually just prohibitive in terms of storage and/or cost compared to CG.

Apple's Foundation made a point of using miniatures for at least some space ships and even for (pieces of) some locations, and sometimes looked just really spectacular. Nothing on the new Trek shows has really matched the best shots from Foundation, for example, but as I understand it some of The Mandalorian also uses miniatures and no doubt looks better for it.

 

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I just watched the 1st 3 episodes, and as a non-reader, the show isn't giving me much to engage the story - other than the Harfoots storyline. It really does feel like it's nothing more than a mega budget CW show.

The primary storylines move along at a quite rapid pace that does not allow for meaningful character relationships to be felt by the audience. Arondir's colleagues all die in the latest episode and one can't help but feel that the show was being overly dramatic in the way that it was done. Does anybody care about them? Do we know what their aspirations are? Do we know their flaws and strengths? So why is their death done in a way that's expecting me to shed a tear? The same could be said about Bronwyn's village in the Southlands, I was not at all moved when the entire community had to just up and leave, because the show never established the communal bonds of the villagers.

Almost every new piece of information revealed to the audience is treated as a big deal, which gets very annoying very quickly. As a result, I doubt I'm going to have the desired reaction when a really pivotal revelation is made in whatever the big episode is going to be.

There's a lot of coldness that radiates from the Elf and Men storyline. Everybody acts very stiffly and sternly. Although this does not seem to be the actors' fault but rather the very obvious "hit your mark" acting that's been imposed on them by the directors. The show tries to compensate for this by excessively inserting Bear McCreary's score (which is mostly good), but there’s only so much hollowness that a score can make up for before the score itself becomes overbearing.

The costumes are incredibly atrocious. Gil-Glad kept tiptoeing around in fear that his cloak made of cheap fabric would catch onto something and immediately tear apart. I swear there are cos players who could come up with better costumes than what was on offer. Numenor looked amazing in all its beauty and splendour. I hope that this isn't just for show and that future episodes let us to explore the culture of the Numenoreans. It was kinda disappointing that the camera chose to focus on Galadriel instead of the Numenoreans when introducing herself to Miriel.

The Harfoots are obviously the best part of the show. I'm glad that they aren't shying away of the sometimes contradictory beliefs that a community holds vs what they actually do in practice (nobody walks alone vs not being accommodative to the Brandyfoot's when they're at a clear disadvantage). The freedom of the actors to also act with their body and not just their faces is a rather refreshing sight when compared against actors of the other storyline. It just adds a layer of relatability and humanisation to the characters. I also love the inquisitive nature of Nori and Sadoc taking an interest in prophecy/astrology is a rather interesting touch.

A few things that still bug me:

• What was that scene between Theo son and his friend when they break into someone's barn? Whose barn is it? Why does Theo tell his friend to leave when it appears someone is entering the barn, and yet he chooses to stay?
• How did Arondir's colleagues get captured anyway?
• Does anybody know the reasoning behind Galadriel's slow-motion never ending story moment on horseback?

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2 hours ago, Heartofice said:

I can’t really compare the writing to Tolkien as it’s been so long since I read it I can’t remember, but everything so far is well below Jackson LOTR level , and I mean everything.

The whole show is workmanlike and uninspired, which I guess is my main gripe with it. The writing does a job, gets the point across, but it isn’t memorable, the lines are delivered by very average performances, forgettable performances. The story is plodding along without actually getting a point where it seems to mean anything , it certainly isn’t gripping. 

How many outstanding acting performances do you think there are in the Peter Jackson LOTR films? They don't have to be Oscar-worthy in your opinion, just REALLY good, rather than good enough.

On a different topic, I take no joy in being correct about the trolls and their agenda - as neatly evidenced this week by people abusing Neil Gaiman for his work on ROP. Bad faith actors tell on themselves. And also the fact that their ring-leader was on Infowars this week. They are the same people (anti-vax, flat-earthers etc) and it has very little to do with being a 'fan' of Tolkien, the show is merely a vehicle for their hatred of "others". 

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31 minutes ago, Werthead said:

I still find it bemusing that the OG LotR trilogy used miniatures, bigatures and real, on-location filming and everybody agreed that it looked absolutely fantastic and the main takeaway from Hollywood and the people who made the trilogy was "Great, let's now use fake-looking CGI for everything!" 

 

Isn't turnover time a big deal to studio execs? Jackson and his team spent approximately 4 years in preproduction on the original trilogy. That's not a luxury most filmmakers are ever going to get, especially when you consider a studio will likely undergo a regime change in that time period and the new bosses may just cancel your in progress project. Just look at what's going on with Warner Bros. right now. It's a lot quicker to do everything in CGI. It also doesn't help that James Cameron was able to shoot and release a whole film in CGI  that blew every other CGI film out of the water, in 2 years. That, more than anything, convinced studios to just do everything in CGI.

11 minutes ago, Ran said:

I wonder if the whole bigature thing not being done is just because it's actually just prohibitive in terms of storage and/or cost compared to CG.

Wouldn't bigatures require some elaborate camera setup to shoot around it?

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16 minutes ago, Isis said:

How many outstanding acting performances do you think there are in the Peter Jackson LOTR films? They don't have to be Oscar-worthy in your opinion, just REALLY good, rather than good enough.

I’d say A LOT

McKellan, Bean, Wood, Viggo, Weaving, Blanchett, Lee, Holm were all exceptional in their roles. 
 

Plus all the supporting characters played their roles in a way that made them stand out and be memorable. All the hobbits, none of which are amazing actors, did really good jobs. 
 

As for effects, I assume there is a level of sunk cost in investing in effects equipment. If you’ve paid for these enormous motion capture rigs and heavy duty processing computers then you sure as shit want to use them! Why throw more money starting again on new stuff every time you start a new project 

Edited by Heartofice
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18 hours ago, Winterfell is Burning said:

Is there anyone posting here that isn't a Tolkien fanboy whining about changes? Jesus Christ (or Aragorn/Frodo/whatever), you're worse than Star Wars fans about Episode VIII.

This is one of the few places people are able to submit negative opinions about the show without Amazon censoring it. Please don't tell Amazon we're here!

13 minutes ago, Isis said:

How many outstanding acting performances do you think there are in the Peter Jackson LOTR films? They don't have to be Oscar-worthy in your opinion, just REALLY good, rather than good enough.

Ina Mckellen as Gandalf is one of the best performances in cinema history.

Bernard Hill is outstanding as Theoden.

"Very good" performances include Viggo as Aragorn, Elijah as Frodo, Christopher Lee as Saruman, to name a few.

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20 minutes ago, Isis said:

abusing Neil Gaiman for his work on ROP.

What's hilarious is he did no work on the show, just commented on seeing two episodes, and then remarked on the skin color of the Harfoots* and criticized Musk's opinion on the show, but the trolls and racist troglodytes of the Internet appear to have decided that in fact he must have worked on it. His response was perfectly sarcastic.

 

* Rather facetiously, to be honest. Yes, the Harfoots were browner than the Fallohides and Stoors. No, Tolkien didn't mean they were some completely unrelated ethnicity to the Fallohides and Stoors, he was basically glossing the three tribes that conquered England (the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons) and applying it to the early Hobbits (who were allegedly led by Marcho and Blanco, whose names are directly cognate equine names as those of Hengist and Horsa, the legendary leaders of the Anglo-Saxon confederation) .

This weird game of 'The text gives us permission because of this word here even though everyone really knows what was actually intended by the author, except when convenient to me the text doesn't matter because it's fantasy' is silly, which is why I much prefer HotD's approach to just saying right out 'Yeah, we're changing from the canon.' Or, you know, Gaiman's own responses on changes with The Sandman by just saying, yeah, we changed it.

Edited by Ran
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8 minutes ago, Ran said:

What's hilarious is he did no work on the show, just commented on seeing two episodes, and then remarked on the skin color of the Harfoots* and criticized Musk's opinion on the show, but the trolls and racist troglodytes of the Internet appear to have decided that in fact he must have worked on it. His response was perfectly sarcastic.

It demonstrated that some people are blindly following the leader, toeing the line, (and parrotting their errors), rather than sharing their own personal opinions. May I ask why you are not watching the show yourself?

 

Ian McKellen was, I believe, nominated for an Oscar for his perfomance of Gandalf in FOTR and yes, I do think it was amazing. Anything I disliked about it was down to the direction and writing in the films. I mean, he is a LEGENDARY actor so this was expected.

The hobbits are an interesting one. Elijah Wood looks the part. There were so many changes to Frodo for the film that I think it would be very challenging to me to unpick his performance vs the role as given to him by Jackson. The other hobbits do alright. It is an ensemble cast after all.

Brad Dourif, I think, is one of those that is right up there in the second tier after McKellen.

Viggo did something amazing with the role he was asked to play. I have no complaints about his work in LOTR.

Hugo Weaving doesn't actually have that many scenes. In which scenes is he exceptional? Ditto, Cate Blanchett - both are fine actors (as evidenced by performances in other works) but is what they do in LOTR exxceptional? Or are we making decisions based on the appearance of their familiar characters on screen, the costumes, make up, scenery etc? 

People have their rose-tinted glasses very firmly attached when they look upon the Jackson films, I think. For many of us they have sentimental value. I feel that the mists of time are causing people to judge LOTR less harshly (because it is familiar like a snuggly blanket) compared to a new show, which many people seemed to have self-prophesised that they were not going to like.

When I look at ROP I am not seeing any performances that look that different to what I see when I watch the LOTR films. Some actors are doing great work, others are doing adequate or good work. It's an ensemble cast. :dunno: What people are saying about ROP I could quite easily say about LOTR or any other fantasy show. It's all subjective. 

 

 

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Sure I think there could be disagreement as to just how good Weaving and Blanchett were in those movies, but I’d say both were able to express a character with subtlety and emotion that had an effect when I watched it. Where on the scale you put it from very good to exceptional is up to you.

Wood as Frodo is maybe not everyone’s tastes because it’s different to Book Frodo, but in terms of allowing the viewer to sympathise and feel the emotions of the situation, he was incredible, and perfect in the role. 
 

Sure all this is in combination to the writing of the movies as well, which are clearly better than RoP. But it’s also not rose tinted because I’ve seen those movies more than enough times to know how I feel.

Which are the great performances in RoP? There are none so far, and maybe the script hasn’t allowed it, but I see a clear difference already.

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I can't believe we're multiple posts into a debate about outstanding acting performances in the trilogy and none of you have mentioned Andy Serkis yet. 

 

 

Also one thing about the Jackson trilogy is that for almost all of the parts the casting was so good that it didn't even really need the actors to be acting their arses off, in roles which weren't necessarily built for that anyway. Like Vigo Mortensen probably didn't deliver the deepest performance of his career, because that's not what he was needed for, but I struggle to see how anyone else could have been better. Same goes for Sean Bean, all the other hobbits apart from Sean Austin who obviously did have stuff to chew into and was, imo, incredible at it, Hugo Weaving... they weren't in roles that needed them to win Oscars, but they nailed them.

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8 minutes ago, polishgenius said:

I can't believe we're multiple posts into a debate about outstanding acting performances in the trilogy and none of you have mentioned Andy Serkis yet. 

 

 

Also one thing about the Jackson trilogy is that for almost all of the parts the casting was so good that it didn't even really need the actors to be acting their arses off, in roles which weren't necessarily built for that anyway. Like Vigo Mortensen probably didn't deliver the deepest performance of his career, because that's not what he was needed for, but I struggle to see how anyone else could have been better. Same goes for Sean Bean, all the other hobbits apart from Sean Austin who obviously did have stuff to chew into and was, imo, incredible at it, Hugo Weaving... they weren't in roles that needed them to win Oscars, but they nailed them.

Totally, Serkis needs to be in all these conversations! 
 

Think you summed up what I wanted to say. I think even lesser actors like Sean Austin gave really powerful performances that had me in tears, but they were obviously given the opportunity to do that and actually it’s probably the thing they were best at anyway. Good casting is one of the reasons those movies work so well 

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2 hours ago, Isis said:

May I ask why you are not watching the show yourself?

Without JRRT guiding it, or at least CT, it's just licensed fiction from creators I don't know and I've no particular interest in, inventing stuff that I know can't possibly be what Tolkien had in mind. I was intrigued by it all, musing on what might be a suitable period to tell a story, but I never really wanted to see whatever they came up with. When it was announced it'd be the Second Age, I thought that was certainly intriguing, but it didn't change my mind that I would never be happy with whatever they produced, and my reaction to some of the details that have been revealed over time -- that the hobbits are in there largely to pander to hoi polloi, the insane compression of the narrative, and so on -- have just confirmed that it's not for me.

I'm glad it has an audience of fans who enjoy it. They definitely worked very hard to get this show on the air, and I'm glad it has an audience, as perhaps it'll lead some people to read The Silmarillion and maybe even get into some of the unpublished stuff like Unfinished Tales.

Edited by Ran
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3 hours ago, Werthead said:

I still find it bemusing that the OG LotR trilogy used miniatures, bigatures and real, on-location filming and everybody agreed that it looked absolutely fantastic and the main takeaway from Hollywood and the people who made the trilogy was "Great, let's now use fake-looking CGI for everything!" The Hobbit trilogy had relatively little of the great New Zealand landscapes from the first trilogy and Rings of Power is making oddly little use of them as well despite being there, which is probably why they decided they could move to the UK to film future seasons.

Whilst House of the Dragon looks great, it is overrelying on CG as well. Filming the Dragonstone steps scene on a greenscreen (or possibly their Volume setup) looks much faker than using the real steps location in Spain like they did for GoT. The tourney scene in HotD was much better than the comparable scene from GoT, but at least in GoT they were in a real forest with a real setup. There's lots of shows which use CG imperceptibly and you don't know it's been done, but that's not the case for either of these.

100% this. I was just complaining about the CGI deer in HotD. Why. Is it truly cheaper to code a ghastly fake deer than to go to a wildlife park or forestry and film a real one which you can later computer manipulate to your purposes? GoT actually sourced a freshly dead deer for season one and it looked stunning. When I was on a GoT tour in Northern Ireland we actually visited real trees that the crew found specially for certain shots. So much thought, care and effort. Not just cheap-ass coding. (No offense to any cgi artists, I could never even fathom your skill and hard work, but it’s just a very different result than tangible reality)

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3 hours ago, Cashless Society said:

The primary storylines move along at a quite rapid pace that does not allow for meaningful character relationships to be felt by the audience. Arondir's colleagues all die in the latest episode and one can't help but feel that the show was being overly dramatic in the way that it was done. Does anybody care about them? Do we know what their aspirations are? Do we know their flaws and strengths? So why is their death done in a way that's expecting me to shed a tear? The same could be said about Bronwyn's village in the Southlands, I was not at all moved when the entire community had to just up and leave, because the show never established the communal bonds of the villagers.

Almost every new piece of information revealed to the audience is treated as a big deal, which gets very annoying very quickly. As a result, I doubt I'm going to have the desired reaction when a really pivotal revelation is made in whatever the big episode is going to be.

There's a lot of coldness that radiates from the Elf and Men storyline. Everybody acts very stiffly and sternly. Although this does not seem to be the actors' fault but rather the very obvious "hit your mark" acting that's been imposed on them by the directors. The show tries to compensate for this by excessively inserting Bear McCreary's score (which is mostly good), but there’s only so much hollowness that a score can make up for before the score itself becomes overbearing.

The costumes are incredibly atrocious. Gil-Glad kept tiptoeing around in fear that his cloak made of cheap fabric would catch onto something and immediately tear apart. I swear there are cos players who could come up with better costumes than what was on offer. Numenor looked amazing in all its beauty and splendour. I hope that this isn't just for show and that future episodes let us to explore the culture of the Numenoreans. It was kinda disappointing that the camera chose to focus on Galadriel instead of the Numenoreans when introducing herself to Miriel.

The Harfoots are obviously the best part of the show. I'm glad that they aren't shying away of the sometimes contradictory beliefs that a community holds vs what they actually do in practice (nobody walks alone vs not being accommodative to the Brandyfoot's when they're at a clear disadvantage). The freedom of the actors to also act with their body

Agree completely with this. The real failure is not with the broader narrative or keeping true to Tolkien, it's in making us care for the characters. They've only managed that with the Harfoots. They might with the Dwarves.

1 hour ago, Ran said:

 that the hobbits are in there largely to pander to hoi polloi

I have little doubt that's why the Harfoots were added, but while the writing in the show definitely contributes to this, the Harfoots are also the only part of the show that's actually working on an emotional level.

The everyday concerns and worries of the Hobbits are grounding this story, and it can't just be chance that the only times Tolkien was able to produce narrative content in this world, he felt the need to center the perspectives of Hobbits, over the remote and powerful Elves and Men. 

That doesn't change that this is a departure from Tolkien, but I do wonder if he had to write the story of the forging of the rings, he wouldn't have included similar perspectives, even if they wouldn't necessarily have been proto-Hobbits. 

 

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