Sometimes there is nothing to see. Sometimes it takes years before there is one of those series worth talking about. I think of breaking badI think of The Sopranosor in The wire, or in big liesor in Peaky Blindersor in the magnificent Better call Saul. But also in “Game of Thrones”that entertained us in that distant pre-pandemic time, when we talked about other things that were not viruses, (although we did talk about inflation and the dollar, because we are always talking about that). At that time we looked forward to every season and when it started, we looked forward to every episode. So it was at least until the eighth and last, which was a complete disappointment. But that’s another story (not worth talking about).
This year, after the pandemic and having lived in a quasi-dystopian world, fantasy returns to streaming screens with high stakes and sky-high budgets, that seem oblivious to any global crisis and energy constraints.
On the one hand HBO, which decided to rummage through the grandmother’s jewelry box and rescue the valuable jewels of “Game of Thrones”diving into its prehistory. And the other Amazon prime, whose owner Jeff Bezos is a fan of JRR Tolkien’s creation, “The Lord of the rings”, and dove into the beginnings of Middle-earth, with its dwarves, elves, hobbits, and wizards.
HBO struck the first blow. With a budget of 20 million dollars per chapter, last Sunday he went out to fight with “House of Dragon”, the series from the family tree of “Games of Thrones”that recounts the beginnings, made of blood and fire, of the Targaryen house, the most emblematic, the most conflictive, the one that spawned Daenerys after several generations.
The first blow was a success: it was the most watched premiere of any series in the history of HBO Max in Latin America. As reported by the platform, it surpassed the previous record, which was held by the second season of “Euphoria”. And it was already announced that there will be a second season.
Based on “Fire and Blood,” the book by George RR Martin, the ten-episode series is set 174 years before the events of “Game of Thrones.”where it all begins. Because, as the journalist Jorge Carrión said, “after narrating the epic that prevented the apocalypse, now it is time to tell the mythology of a possible prophetic origin.” The first blow was not only a good blow for the amount of spectators. Also for the choice of chapter. Directed by the same director who amazed us with “Battle of the Bastards”, the first chapter of “House of Dragon”, “The heirs of the dragon”, was a very good first sample of what is to come.
This is the story of when the Targaryens rose to the top and it is the story that will allow us to understand why 200 years later, everything went to hell and there was a Targaryen begging for a crown and selling his sister (our dear Daenerys, before she wasted, so was she).
In a Shakespearian key, the first chapter tells a story of monarchical succession and a struggle in the family that puts in check not only governability, but also the balance of the known world. Everything is narrated in a counterpoint between a tournament and the birth of the queen. The king’s wife reminds Rhaenyra that “our battlefield is childbirth.” The sequence, somewhat terrifying, intersperses scenes of the tournament that celebrates the arrival of the heir with the carnage that the queen suffers when giving birth and that ends with her life.
As in “Game of Thrones” and until you fully enter the world of Westeros, you have to be careful because the names are rare and the intrigues are too many. But that’s the wonder of fantasy done right. After a few minutes, we learn those impossible names and understand the crossings perfectly.
Will he manage to, in addition to hitting, hit twice and become a hit like “Game of Thrones”? We have to let it fly a little more and see how they take us through those stories.
In a world not so far away…
Meanwhile, not too far over the horizon, the dragons and especially HBO have another concern. It’s called “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” and it’s also called Amazon Prime. That fight, to see who owns the fantasy audience, will take place on September 2.
The fight will be with the same weapons, because the series that follows will be an epic, and there will also be swords and dragons. But in this case they will fly over JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
It is said that “The Rings of Power” is a project germinated in the admiration of the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, for the work of JRR Tolkien. Bezos, one of the richest men in the world, indulged himself: he has already ordered five seasons, which have already been described as the most expensive program ever made. His budget is around 1,000 million dollars compared to the 150 million spent so far on “The House of the Dragon”.
The series will travel back in time, thousands of years ago, to recount what happened long before the Fellowship of the Ring was formed.long before the hobbit kept one of the rings of power.
The series will chronicle the heroic legends of the Second Age of Middle-earth history and will take viewers back to an era when great powers were forged, when kingdoms rose to glory and others fell to ruin, when unlikely heroes were put to the test, hope hung on the finer thread, and one of the greatest villains to emerge from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cast darkness over the world.
Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble of characters both familiar and new, as they face the dreaded resurgence of evil in Middle-earth.
From the dark depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elven capital of Lindon, to the stunning island kingdom of Númenor, and to the farthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will forge legacies that will live on long after they are gone. What was already seen in the trailers promises a lot.
more is more
Although it has been considered as a confrontation and many think that it may be an excess of dragons and swords, The truth is that the creators and executives of both sides (HBO and Amazon) have been careful, and downplayed the rivalry.
Fans of fantasy, including George RR Martin – author of the books on which both “Game of Thrones” and “House of the Dragon” are based – have expressed hope that both could be successful. “I want both series to find an audience that appreciates them and gives them great television. Big fantasy,” Martin wrote in a recent blog post. “The more fantasy hits we have, the more great fantasy we’ll have.”
Regardless of whether he meant to be graceful and polite, what he said is a great way to look at it. More fantasy stories and well done, can never be bad. That television, or streaming in this case, bets on good, auteur projects, with stories that do not seek only to trap the viewer with empty containers, and that respect their ability to marvel, is always appreciated. Always.
Past and future bets on science fiction prequels
The British newspaper Daily Mail reported this week that JK Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” saga, reached an agreement with Warner Bros Discovery to produce a prequel series about this magical world that broke all records.
Although there was no official word from the author, and from the platform that HBO Max owns today they dodged responsibility, It is an open secret that for months it has been planning to release new content from this universe in the form of a series.
This is due to several factors: the still enduring success of the Harry Potter world, first of all. It was even planned to launch a video game (“Hogwarts Legacy”) for this year, which generated great expectations and ended up being postponed until 2023. Second, the success that prequels or spin-offs of other great science fiction productions are having. And, thirdly (and perhaps more importantly), as a revenge for the irregular numbers of the “Fantastic Beasts” saga, which also belongs to JK Rowling and is linked to Potter, but that in its three deliveries it did not manage to move the public in the way that was expected.
This bet on a potential series also serves as a strategy for Warner Bros Discovery, which is preparing to launch its combined platform with HBO Max in the course of this year and next, so it would be an ace up his sleeve to present himself with this expected content.
This commitment to prequels follows the line, for example, of the Star Wars franchise, which in recent years began to exploit the series format and published authentic gems such as “The Mandalorian” and, more recently, “Obi-Wan Kenobi”, where Ewan Mc Gregor returned to interpret his characteristic character. Unlike what happened with “Fantastic Beasts”, these productions received critical acclaim and were very successful, proving that the Star Wars world is not only still alive, but is a gold mine.
We will have to see if the Harry Potter universe, which has already raised more than 8,000 million dollars, continues to be so.
First impressions on the series “The Lord of the Rings”
From various media that have had access to the first episodes, The first impressions of the series that can be seen from September 2 on the Amazon Prime platform are already known.
“The first two episodes of are a sight to behold. The scale, scope, ambition and grandeur are unrivaled on television. It also has the laborious task of introducing so much necessary world building that it takes a while to take flight.
“It feels made especially for Tolkien fans and is as epic as The Lord of the Rings should be,” they point out from Discussing Film.“ ‘The Rings of Power’ is a cinematic experience that in a perfect world, we would see on the big screen. It’s pure Tolkien,” Folha wrote.
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