Despite a widely positive critical reception for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Amazon’s goliath new fantasy series is floundering on Rotten Tomatoes with an audience score of just 33% at the time of writing.
Meanwhile, the critic score on the popular review-aggregation site is a much more impressive 84%.
So, why the disparity?
The Rings of Power may be the latest victim of “review-bombing” – when bigots flood a show with bad reviews in order to make it seem less appealing or popular.
The JRR Tolkien-inspired series has already been a victim of racist backlash due to its diverse casting.
An Amazon source told The Hollywood Reporter that reviews on its own site are being held 72 hours to “help weed out trolls”. Though, they later claimed Prime Video implemented this policy this summer across all its shows.
While the original LOTR films featured no Black characters, both The Rings of Power and the new Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon have worked to feature more racially diverse casts.
Recalling a conversation he had with Steve Toussaint about the actor’s casting in House of the Dragon, Lenny Henry (who stars in The Rings of Power) said that “the purists were saying things” about a Black performer starring in the HBO series.
“God bless them,” Henry said. “They have no trouble believing in a dragon, but they do have trouble believing that a Black person could be a member of the court. Or that a Black person could be a hobbit or an elf.”
In his four-star review of the series, Kevin E G Perry called it “a spectacle-filled return to a lovingly rendered Middle-earth that promises to deliver an awfully big adventure”.