Season 1 of LOTR Amazon Series To Focus On Young Aragorn

After much speculation it appears as though the subject base for Season 1 of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings prequel series has been confirmed.

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According to an exclusive report by TheOneRing.net Amazon’s biggest project will, for season 1 at least, focus on a young version of the Northern Ranger turned King of Gondor, Aragorn.

Whilst Viggo Mortensen will not be reprising his role due to the age difference of the character, Amazon have completed a deal for the rights to use footage from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, so don’t be surprised to see Viggo in there somewhere.

There is yet to be any further word on whether Jackson himself has finalised a deal to return to direct the series, however recent reports did state that he was choosing between returning to Middle Earth or directing a DC Universe movie.

Review: Westworld Season 2. Episode 1

After what feels like an eternity of waiting, Westworld has returned to our screens to bring violent ends to these violent delights.

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Westworld Season 1 ended with a multitude of questions that still needed answering. Whilst we do receive a small handful of answers to kick-start the new season, Episode 1 unfortunately leaves us with two new questions for every one we have answered. It’s in this vein that the episode finds its core thread, it’s a new beginning both for the TV show itself and the characters within.

It’s an episode that deals with self-discovery on quite a large scale. Whilst the story of Bernard took center-stage, the motif of self-awareness ran strong throughout every storyline and I find it highly doubtful that this theme will suddenly dissipate in the coming weeks.

The episode itself, whilst intriguing in the numerous plot points it established, was slow at times. Despite being an hour and a half long episode, it didn’t feel the need to rush events too far. Instead it took a slower approach to proceedings, giving characters plenty of time to re-establish themselves with the audience. What did disappoint however was that new characters were often given one line introductions and then left to sink or swim. Gustaf Skarsgård’s new character Karl Strand, Head of Operations for Delos, feels highly important to this seasons storyline, but received little in the way of introduction or fleshing out. This isn’t unheard of for Westworld though as season 1 was inherently a very slow show until the latter stages. I have enough faith in the character work shown by the show so far that all these characters will be given enough time to fully develop in future episodes.

So, unsurprisingly, it was characters of old who stole the show this week. As always the acting was fantastic across the board, but it was great to see Evan Rachel Wood depict a much darker version of Dolores Abernathy. If I was a betting man I would say that her relationship with James Marsden’s character, Teddy Flood, will be one of the better threads of the season. It’s also worth noting that The Man in Black once again had an episode stealing scene, this time with the younger version of Robert Ford.

I’m certainly intrigued to see where the story takes us across the course of Season 2. The time-jumping is also something that makes it openly different to Season 1, as rather than secretly installing different timelines, the show is instead using them as a device for confusion and to engage attention.

Roll on Episode 2 and let’s just hope that now we’re fully integrated back into the world, things can pick up slightly quicker than they did in Season 1.

Final Score: 8/10 Porgs

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Review: DragonBall Super

Episode 131 has come and gone and now the fourth DragonBall series has ended its TV run.

If you’ve been following my weekly Twitter reviews of each episode you’ll know that DragonBall Super has certainly had its fair share of ups and downs. It struggled to get out of the blocks due to the first two arcs being remakes of the movies which brought life back into the DragonBall franchise, Battle of Gods and Resurrection of F. But with that being said, even those first two initial arcs had moments that were strong.

Once the remakes were out of the way and Akira Toriyama’s new material began to make its way onto our screens the series began to find its legs and went from strength to strength. The Universe 6 vs. 7 Tournament arc was still not something that hit the same heights as predecessor series DragonBall Z, but it introduced a plethora of new characters, some of whom have become staples of the franchise in quick fashion. Characters such as Hit, Cabba and Champa whom were introduced in Super’s first tournament arc are now hot favourites of many fans.

However with the first Tournament arc came some of the initial criticisms that lasted throughout pretty much every arc; it became the Goku show and very few other characters that we had grown to know and love over the decades since they were first introduced were given the chance to shine. Outside of Vegeta, Future Trunks in the Goku Black arc and to a lesser extent Android 17 there were very few opportunities for other characters to make an impact. Even the promising resurgence of Gohan fizzled away into nothing during the Tournament of Power arc.

The series also suffered from filler, something that’s not unfamiliar to DragonBall fans, but due to the weekly releases and internet age that we now live in, these filler episodes were perhaps received more negatively than they would have been in the 1990’s. With that being said there were some nice character episodes interspersed between the main arcs, with the likes of Vegeta taking his family to the theme park and an episode focussing on Pan and Picollo standing out from the rest.

The Goku Black and Tournament of Power arcs were where the series really hit its stride, with the Goku Black arc feeling like a very good DragonBall Z arc with the high stakes and intimidating enemy and the Tournament of Power epitomising the best of Super’s new style of story and character implementation. The Tournament of Power should be praised for the scale that it attempted, introducing so many new characters that you created the potential for hundreds of spin-offs that we’ll never seen. It also served to solidify Universe 6 as a fan favourite roster of characters and a great foil for characters like Beerus and Vegeta. But even these arcs don’t escape criticism as both of them finished weakly. The Goku Black arc would have had the perfect ending if it had finished with Trunks’ Spirit Sword, but bringing in Zeno for the finishing blow was a disappointing ending. Similarly with the Tournament of Power arc, everything felt rushed in the final episode and although I thoroughly enjoyed Goku, Android 17 and Freiza vs. Jiren it did feel weakened by the fact that once the fight was over all the loose ends were either tied up in a 10 minute ending, or were left completely un-mentioned. We never really got to see the reactions of Universe 7 to their survival and we never saw how characters like Beerus and Goku felt about the other universes coming back.

Overall, a series with many number of highs and lows, some of which outshone the rest. There was spectacle, magnitude and high stakes. Great characters were introduced, some of whom will be fan favourites for many years to come and it’s likely that this series did enough to be remembered for its positives rather than its negatives.

Final Score: 7/10 Porgs

Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” prequel series is costing huge numbers

According to an exclusive report by Reuters the new Amazon Lord of the Rings prequel series could cost the company over $500m.

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According to the report Amazon paid “$250 million for the rights alone” and that following marketing and production for two seasons could push the costs over the $500m mark.

These sky-high costs would mean that the show would cost Amazon triple the amount that The Man In The High Castle cost, and as such it would be expected to bring in triple the amount of subscribers. A tall ask for any show given that The Man In The High Castle brought in 1.15 million new subscribers to Amazon’s version of Netflix, Amazon Prime. 

As a massive fan of the Lord of the Rings film series and books I was at first very negative towards the concept of a TV series being produced by Amazon, especially with the departure of Christoper Tolkien from the Tolkien Estate’s board shortly before the announcement was made, making it feel as though he didn’t agree with the project. But with a budget this large it is at the very least a positive sign and hopefully the story and production value will be worthy of the Lord of the Rings legacy.

With that being said the influx of money into a production does not equal quality, and whilst HBO are currently knocking everything out of the park with shows in the similar vein such as Game of Thrones and WestWorld it does not mean that Amazon are guaranteed to have a major success on their hands.