YouTuber Just Some Guy obliterated Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power describing the show as “Tolkien in Name Only” while heavily criticizing the show’s casting and plot decisions that reject J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings.
In a video upload titled, “The Rings of Power: Tolkien in Name Only” Just Some Guy bluntly stated, “The finished product is going to leave much to be desired. And that’s because this production seems to be The Lord of the Rings in name only.”
From there, the YouTuber praises Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and notes those films have set a high bar and created even more hardcore Tolkien fans that want to see his work adapted as written.
He explains, “Those films got more people into J.R.R. Tolkien’s work than anything else. They, ironically, created more hardcore fans who want to see Tolkien’s work brought to life as written despite that the films deviated from the books. That’s the power of those films and the power of Tolkien’s word. People want to see what he wrote brought to life.”
After pointing out that the proper format for a live-action adaptation of The Lord of the Rings would be TV given Game of Thrones success, he also points to how Game of Thrones is a cautionary tale as the show’s quality steeply declined when it began deviating from George R.R. Martin’s novels.
Just Some Guy argues Prime Video and showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay appear to be following the same Game of Thrones playbook stating, “The Rings of Power looks like it’s going to be dead on arrival.”
He then explains why, first pointing to how Galadriel is characterized, “From the Vanity Fair article, ‘Galadriel’s world is a raging sea. Far from the wise, ethereal elven queen that Cate Blanchett brought to Peter Jackson’s acclaimed films, the Galadriel played by Morfydd Clark in Amazon’s upcoming series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is thousands of years younger, as angry and brash as she is clever, and certain that evil is looming closer than anyone realizes.'”
Commenting on this description, the YouTuber says, “Okay, that’s not from the books. I’ve read The Silmarillion every year since 2003. I don’t recall Galadriel being described as angry or brash. Proud, yes. Clever, yes. But never angry. Never brash. But that does sound familiar. Where have I heard this before? It’s the generic personality given to every action girl. I bet you’re going to deck her out in armor with a half-shaved head in braids.”
Next, Just Some Guy took issue with the reveal that Galadriel is the “commander of the Northern Armies.”
He states, “So, they’re changing Galadriel’s character making her a commander of the Northern Army. What army? She was never part of any army in the Second Age. For the first third of the Second Age, she’d pass over the Blue Mountains with Celeborn into what will eventually become The Shire. And went further east wandering around there for 1200 years before she comes back into what’s left of Lindon after Beleriand’s taken into the sea.”
Next, Just Some Guy points to another portion of the Vanity Fair article that reads, “As the series begins, Galadriel is hunting down the last remnants of their collaborators, who claimed the life of her brother. ”
He comments, “There’s this line about her hunting down ‘the last remnants of their collaborators’ presumably Morgoth and Sauron who claimed the life of her brother. Which brother? Finrod, Angrod, or Aegnor? If it’s the last two they died in 455 of the First Age. Finrod died 10 years later, but he was reincarnated shortly after and still lives in Eldamar. Either way, Galadriel doesn’t show up until what’s left of Lindon until 1200 in the Second Age. Literally 1,335 years later.”
“This b***h has been holding a grudge for 1300 years? Baby, listen if it’s taken you that long just let it go,” he quips.
Angrod and Aegnor were killed when Morgoth broke the siege of Angbad. Tolkien wrote in The Silmarillion, “The sons of Finarfin bore most heavily the brunt of the assault, and Angrod and Aegnor were slain; beside them fell Bregolas lord of the house of Bëor, and a great part of the warriors of that people.”
Finrod, who also went by Felagund would die in 465 after being captured by Sauron. Tolkien wrote, “In the pits of Sauron Beren and Felagund lay, and all their companions were now dead; but Sauron purposed to keep Felagund to the last, for he perceived that he was a Noldo of great might and wisdom, and he deemed that in him lay the secret of their errand. But when the wolf came for Beren, Felagund put forth all his power, and burst his bonds; and he wrestled with the werewolf, and slew it with his hands and teeth; yet he himself was wounded to the death.”
However, Tolkien would also indicate that Finrod was reincarnated, noting that after his body was buried he walks with this father under the trees in Eldamar, “They buried the body of Felagund upon the hill-top of his own isle, and it was clean again; and the green grave of Finrod Finarfin’s son, fairest of all the princes of the Elves, remained inviolate, until the land was changed and broken, and foundered under destroying seas. But Finrod walks with Finarfin his father beneath the trees in Eldamar.”
Just Some Guy then notes that in order for this story about Galadriel to make any sense you have to contract the time. That’s something Payne and McKay are doing with Payne explaining, “If you are true to the exact letter of the law, you are going to be telling a story in which your human characters are dying off every season because you’re jumping 200 years in time, and then you’re not meeting really big, important canon characters until season four.”
He added, “Look, there might be some fans who want us to do a documentary of Middle-earth, but we’re going to tell one story that unites all these things.”
This explanation is unsatisfactory with Just Some Guy noting, “If you do that you completely jack up the lore. The amount of time that passes is part of the narrative. You can get away with this in The Lord of the Rings because Frodo’s 17-year time jump would nuke any urgency and danger being built. If the One Ring is the most dangerous thing ever, you can’t go, ’17 years later,’ and then have Frodo sit for another several months pussyfooting around when he knows Sauron knows where the Ring is. That doesn’t work on film.”
“With the creation of the rings of power, the whole point is that Sauron took his time. He tricks the elves, teaching them how to make lesser rings before crafting the 16,” he explains. “Celebrimbor then takes what he learned and fashions the three. And then Sauron makes the one. All this happens over the course of 400 years. Then for another 1800 years the elves fight Sauron as he buddies up with the Numenoreans tricking the kings into following him.”
“Since this is supposed to be spread out over five seasons you have plenty of time to do time jumps. Yes, that means you’ll lose some of your main characters, but if the point is to tell the untold story of the Second Age, there is no reason not to do that,” the YouTuber asserts.
“It would make more sense to just pick a key moment and tell a story set around that,” he posits. “Say the forging of the Elven rings. Virtually all the people in that cast would be Elves so you could time jump with no problem. Or you could start with Isildur’s story leading up to the Battle of Dagorlad. That way you would have some of the Elves in the story and show the founding of Gondor, which would tie into The Lord of the Rings films.”
“Of course, the showrunners are acting like this is a problem as if there wasn’t some kind of storytelling technique, say something that would allow you to flash back to things that happened in the past that would allow you tell the stories that you’re not showing in present time,” Just Some Guy states.
J.R.R. Tolkien made similar criticisms of a film treatment for The Lord of the Rings in Letter 210 written to Forrest J. Ackerman back in June 1958.
He criticized the film treatment’s contraction of time writing, “Here I may say that I fail to see why the time-scheme should be deliberately contracted. It is already rather packed in the original, the main action occurring between Sept. 22 and March 25 of the following year.”
“The many impossibilities and absurdities which further hurrying produces might, I suppose, be unobserved by an uncritical viewer; but I do not see why they should be unnecessarily introduced. Time must naturally be left vaguer in a picture than in a book; but I cannot see why definite time-statements, contrary to the book and to probability, should be made,” he wrote.
Later in the video, Just Some Guy takes issue with the characterization and depiction of Elrond.
He says, “[Elrond] is described as an architect and politician, not the healer and lore master aligned with Gil-galad like he actually was.”
He then aims his attention to the silvan elf Arondir, “This is supposed to be a silvan elf who are part of the Nandor, who are described as having dark hair and white or olive skin. Think Mediterranean. Yes, there are some people of that area who are dark skinned, however; the mentioning of white skin implies Tolkien is talking about the lighter olive skin. Not this.”
“Even then Amazon couldn’t get the aesthetic right because he doesn’t even have long hair, which all the elves did. And neither does Elrond, who is now blonde even though most of the Noldor have dark hair,” he states.
It does appear that Elrond has brown hair in the trailer as you can see in the image above, but the Vanity Fair promo images and their use of light do make his hair look dirty blonde.
“But that’s not the part,” says Just Some Guy. “The part is this deal about the not silvan elf named Arondir, who is also in a forbidden romance with a human named Bronwyn. So because the Tolkien Estate blocked you from using Beren and Lúthien, Tuor and Idril, and Eärendil and Elwing, you just made up a new elf and human romance.”
He then questions, “What happened the last time someone made up a forbidden romance that wasn’t in the real story? Oh that’s right it sucked. Tauriel and Kíli’s romance added nothing to the plot, story, or themes. And proved Tauriel was a cool, but pointless character who didn’t need to be in the film.”
“It’s arrogant to come and just change someone’s story because you’d rather tell something else,” he states.
He then points to McKay’s hubris when he told Vanity Fair, “Can we come up with the novel Tolkien never wrote and do it as the mega-event series that could only happen now?”
Just Some Guy bluntly answers the question, “No and no. How do I know? One, because Tolkien did write it. It’s called The Silmarillion. Two, Princess Doritos [referring to the show’s dwarven princess Disa].
After providing some brief details on the origin of Tolkien’s dwarves, he notes, “Tolkien never describes the dwarves as anything remotely African. Nor does it make sense that they would like that way since they all live underground, meaning out of the sunlight. They would never get this dark.
“But fine, you want to have the totally racially inaccurate black dwarf, go ahead,” he says. Just Some Guy then cuts to a clip of Gimli and Aragon discussing female dwarves and noting they are indistinguishable from male dwarves. Aragon notes it is because of the beards.
In Appendix A Tolkien clearly described dwarf women, “Dís was the daughter of Thráin II. She is the only dwarf-woman named in these histories. It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no more than a third of the whole people.”
“They seldom walk abroad except at great need, They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart. This has given rise to the foolish opinion among Men that there are no dwarf-women, and that the Dwarves ‘grow out of stone,’” he added.
Given Aragon’s comments from Jackson’s films that matches the information from Appendix A, Just Some Guy asks, “So, where’s her beard? Did she eat it up with the rest of the Doritos? Oh, don’t act like nobody noticed all the gold on her fingers. She’s either eaten her jewelry or finger banging Smaug. Y’all so obsessed with representation that you missed the perfect chance to have a bearded woman.”
He then asserted, “Dwarf women have beards. They look so much like the men that other races think there are no dwarf women. This is basic to the lore. So, to leave that out tells us everything we need to know about the showrunners’ respect for Tolkien’s respect.”
While responding to accusations of racism leveled by feminist activist Mariana Rios Maldonado in the Vanity Fair article, Just Some Guy states, “I’m not even going to entertain your stupid question because it’s not the issue. The issue is that Tolkien’s work is based on English, Norse, and Celtic folklore. He wrote the stories to replace the English folklore lost due to all the invasions and French influences. He said and wrote this several times over decades.”
“Middle-earth is basically northwestern Europe, mostly England,” he says. “The native people of those areas are all white. So all the races of Middle-earth would be white. And we know that’s true because Tolkien described what they looked like. They are all white.”
Just Some Guy then argues, “The actors can be non-white and if they can pass as European with or without makeup, they can play those characters. They just need to look the part. Casting non-white actors in a Middle-earth Show is like casting white actors in a Black Panther movie. It makes no sense.”
As he begins to close out the video, Just Some Guy also takes issue with the inclusion of the Harfoots, “It’s like the showunners adding the Harfoots, Hobbits — because people like Hobbits even though the Hobbits have nothing to do with the Second Age.”
“They are just there to introduce another probably original character. You didn’t introduce the whole race of people just to bring someone else in. Madness. Total madness,” he states.
The Harfoots were not around in the Second Age. Their first mention in Appendix B is their arrival to Eriador in 1050 of the Third Age.
Tolkien wrote, “The Periannath are first mentioned in records, with the coming of the Harfoots to Eriador.”
What do you make of his criticisms of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?