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Where’s a wizard to fight trolls when you need one?
The mega-budget fantasy series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is under fire from some of its viewers. A day after the first two episodes of Amazon’s billion-dollar baby debuted on Prime Video, the show’s average audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is a “rotten” 37 percent, and reviews on Amazon have been outright suspended.
Compare that score to TV critics giving the show a very fresh 83 percent average, and many of the reviews were highly enthusiastic (“It’s great: a gorgeously immersive and grandly ambitious spectacle, packed with stunning imagery and compelling plot threads,” wrote TV Line). The Hollywood Reporter dubbed the first two episodes a rather successful, promising start.
The scores come a couple weeks after Marvel’s She-Hulk was declared review bombed on the site, with 88 percent critics score and an initial 36 percent audience score.
How The Rings of Power is doing on Amazon’s own user review ecosystem is not yet clear because the company has taken the unusual step of suspending user ratings for the show. An Amazon source says reviews are being held 72 hours to help weed out trolls and to ensure each review is legitimate. The source later claimed Prime Video started the policy this summer on all its shows.
“Review bombing” is when a group of online users post numerous negative reviews for a product or service due to its perceived cultural or political issues rather than its actual quality. Perusing Rotten Tomatoes’ audience reviews for Rings of Power, there are some one-star entries that meet the definition. “They wanted to involve such an important work with current politics and they have succeeded,” reads an example. “Nobody has a problem with seeing people of color in movies, series or stories … but this story was already written and should not have been sullied.” Opined another: “Reflecting world diversity in Middle Earth is an odd goal, albeit good for marketing maybe, but it was clearly more important then [sic] making a functional TV series.”
But the majority of the negative reviews — whatever the writers’ private feelings — criticized the show for non-diversity reasons. “They spent a billion dollars on backdrops and a film score,” wrote one. “The rest is slow moving, wooden acting and there is no reason to actually like the main characters. There is no soul to any of it.”
There was one aspect even the show’s biggest haters seemed to agree on: The Rings of Power looks amazing. “Stunningly beautiful world,” wrote a reviewer. “Sadly, was bored out of my mind.”
Over at TV Line, the site’s post-premiere poll suggested most viewers had a much more positive reaction, with 62 percent of viewers granting the show an “A” rating.
Amazon owns IMDb but hasn’t suspended that site’s audience ratings. IMDb’s scores were likewise higher than those on Rotten Tomatoes, albeit still middling, with a 6.1 average score out of 10. Like with RT, most viewers gave the show either the best possible score (10) or the worst possible score (1) — the latter suggesting there’s at least some degree of outrage blasting going on. Interestingly, The Rings of Power delivered a higher average score among females (6.8) than males (5.9.).
If review bombing is occurring, the audience score will likely rise. She-Hulk climbed from 36 percent on RT to 50 percent in the last week, and should climb further if the show delivers in its future episodes. Fans come to major franchise titles with a lot of expectations, but if the shows manage to deliver consistent quality over time, they tend to eventually win people over — and move those audience scores.
But for the moment, at least on Amazon’s site: Reviews … shall not … pass!
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