'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' Takes Fans Once More into J.R.R. Tolkien's Magical Realm

Amazon Prime Video's biggest swing yet is a "spectacular" production, and star Morfydd Clark's turn as Galadriel "will make her world-famous," writes PEOPLE's critic

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power L-R: King Gil-Galad (Benjamin Walker), Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Elrond (Robert Aramayo).

Less than two weeks after the launch of House of the Dragon, HBO's Game of Thrones prequel, we now have the epic backstory to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novels (or, if you prefer, Peter Jackson's mammoth, visionary film versions).

At the least, this series reminds us that Lord of the Rings has a greater moral purpose than Game of Thrones. Good must fight evil, and at a terrible disadvantage and cost. Dragon, so far, is Squid Game with a castle full of squabbly blonde Targaryens.

Power gets going quite well, with a focus on Elven warrior Galadriel, played so memorably in the first Rings movie by Cate ("All shall love me and despair!") Blanchett. Here a young Galadriel sets out on a quest, both military and spiritual, as the world begins to fall into shadow.

Morfydd Clark as “Galadriel”; Lloyd Owen as “Elendil” in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Morfydd Clark, best known for 2019's Saint Maud, a terrifying horror film about religious mania, makes the most of the role in the opening episodes. She has the right shining Joan of Arc rectitude, although at times she looks like Lisa Kudrow with braids. The show will make her world-famous.

Out of the gate, though, it's hard to know what to make of all the other narrative threads. You may not be in the mood, just yet, to visit the caverns of the Dwarf Kingdom.

Power could use a wizard — a Gandalf — who might turn up occasionally and, using his magical staff as a pointer, give us the big picture. Maybe one will arrive. The production is spectacular.

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The first two episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power debut Thursday on Amazon Prime Video.

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