Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Amazon Reveals Title of Middle-Earth Series

Today Amazon Prime finally revealed the official title of their long in development Middle-Earth TV series.  As see in video below, it will be called "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power".  The series is set to begin on September 2, 2022. Up to this point it was known that the series would be set in the Second Age of Middle-Earth but its been assumed it would focus on the rise of Sauron and forging of the rings. Now its been confirmed.

“This is a title that we imagine could live on the spine of a book next to J.R.R. Tolkien’s other classics. The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of NĂºmenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men,” said Showrunners J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay. “Until now, audiences have only seen on-screen the story of the One Ring – but before there was one, there were many… and we’re excited to share the epic story of them all.”

For context, the Third Age of Middle-Earth begins with the fall of Sauron as depicted in the opening of Fellowship of the Ring and it ended when the elves, Gandalf and the Hobbit ring-bearers went into the west as seen in the Return of the Ring. This seems like a short amount of time but the Second Age was 3020 years. The events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies occurred in the last 80 years of that age.

The Second Age is 3441 years in length. The age began with the fall of Morgoth who Sauron served under. The age is mostly defined as the rise and expansion of of man across Middle-Earth which leads to many wars with each other and the elves and dwarves. During this time Sauron places himself in positions that allow him to increase his power and eventually to convince the Elves of Eregion into forging the rings from 1500 to 1600 (3 for the Elves, 7 for the Dwarves, 9 for Men) while Sauron secretly forged the One Ring. The rings were in active use by all three races until the danger they represented became known, likely when the Men ring-bearers were turned into Ringwraiths.  From 1600 to the end of the age, the known timeline mostly about the elves attempting to stop Sauron from conquering Middle-Earth. Eventually in 3429 that leads to the War of the Last Alliance where dwarves, elves and man work together to defeat Sauron. 

That is a whole lot of ground to cover and its not all war, all the time. Sauron can simply be depicted in a fashion similar as the white walkers of Game of Thrones - a looming threat with occasional comment on events heard from distant lands. Despite that threat alliances form and fail, war between others occur within the greater war all while Sauron goes about his business of building his own army and slowly conquering Middle-Earth. The details on this period are light with JRR Tolkien telling small stories within and providing enough to form a timeline but there is a whole lot of wiggle room on how to get to the final destination - the Last Alliance. 

The real question will be exactly how close to the Last Alliance will the story begin? Will they compress 1500 years of stories into the show's run? Start with the end and use flashbacks to fill out all the events that led to the Alliance?  In short, there is a whole lot of story potential to tap that could fill many seasons of the series. It should be exciting for all fans of The Lord of the Rings films.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Howard Shore and Bear McCreary To Score Middle-Earth Series

For the last few days it was being reported that Howard Shore was in discussions to return to Middle-Earth via the Amazon TV series.  Now The One Ring is reporting that the ink has dried on the contracts for not just Howard Shore but also Bear McCreary to compose music for the series.  

Howard Shore, just in case didn't know, is the one behind all the music of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.  Bear McCreary has credentials nearly as long as Howard Shore but his focus has mostly been scoring video games (God of War) and TV (Battlestar Galactica, Snowpiercer, The Walking Dead). 

The collaboration should produce some great music.  While the division of labor has not been explained, Shore remains highly in demand so likely his involvement will be to help compose integrate his previous work into the new work so that it seems like a natural fit, while also creating new themes around characters and locations. My guess is he will help McCreary create the skeleton of the series sound while McCreary will do most of the heavy lifting with the episode to episode scoring work.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Middle Earth 4K Ultimate Collection Coming In October

Warner Bros has announced the 20th Anniversary Blu-ray box set for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies. The Middle Earth 6-Film Ultimate Collector's Edition contains a total of 31 discs in a pretty neat "Puzzle Box" that will include new cover art, 64-page booklet, 7 travel poster art cards and 1 disc of new special features. The retail price is $249.99 for release on October 26. You can pre-order now on Amazon. Keep reading for more details. 

The reason for the 31 discs is due to containing both the 4K and regular Blu-ray edition of each film. This breaks down to six 4K Blu-ray and six regular Blu-ray for theatrical release of each. Add to that twelve 4K Blu-ray and six regular Blu-ray for the extended editions of each Lord of the Rings trilogy film (4 discs for each film in each format) for a total of 30 discs. The last disc is a special feature disc containing the Cannes Film Festival Presentation Reel from I think 2000 and 3 part Alamo Drafthouse Lord of the Rings Cast Reunion. 

 It should be noted that DVD extra features are NOT included. This means no Appendices which remains the best making of documentaries ever made. Also no commentary tracks or any of the other special features that were released on the DVD sets years ago. The only special features are the ones above. Suffice it to say this makes this an incomplete release despite the "Ultimate" title. My guess is the decision was made to reduce cost since likely the sound and picture quality of the old features where not good enough for Blu-ray and WB was unwilling to spend the money to perform an upgrade on all that footage. If interested in buying, use this link to purchase so site gets credit.