I have to eat my words here. In my review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (which I loved) I said I didn’t care how much they milked the Lord of the Rings franchise. Well I take it back! You’ve milked enough! No more milk for you – I’m cutting you off.
It’s difficult being the middle child in a film trilogy, and Desolation for me felt like a really long set up for Battle of Five Armies. It doesn’t resolve anything by the end, saving it for the next movie, which left me feeling unsatisfied. I have read the book so I feel they could have reached a resolution here whilst still having a cliffhanger and plenty of conflict left for the finale. This would have made it feel more like a complete and satisfying movie in and of itself.
It’s winter, and with the cold weather and darker days it’s not unusual to feel a bit down in the dumps. That is how I was feeling when I went to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey but it succeeded in lifting my spirits. It is the story Bilbo Baggins, a fussy, stay-at-home Hobbit who has barely been beyond his front door, that is until Gandalf the wizard volunteers him to join an adventure with 13 Dwarves as their ‘burglar’. It is a feel-good film with a lot of humour and a satisfying conclusion, even though it is the first instalment of three films.
Filmed in Great Britain and free to watch The Hunt for Gollum is a fan-made Lord of the Rings film based on Tolkien’s appendices. Taking place between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, the story follows Aragorn as he tracks Gollum across middle earth to prevent him revealing The One Ring’s location to Sauron. It’s stylistically similar to the film trilogy and the actors seem to have been chosen for their resemblances to their movie counterparts – I’m certain they used some of the same extras as well. All this makes it feel like a part of the series, and the production values are extremely high.
It’s a beautiful production, especially from a visual perspective. A lot of the landscapes are digital but they look incredibly realistic. These guys literally went out and created a whole new world. I cannot fail to be impressed; I’ve seen my share of fan films and where some might achieve the standards of a TV movie The Hunt for Gollum has the quality of a cinema release. They achieve a lot on a budget of only £3000.
Aragorn gets Gollum into the sack
I’m not sure why –lack of funds or difficulty with the CG model perhaps- but you don’t see much of Gollum throughout the whole thing. There are a lot of scenes with him tied up in a sack (which, incidentally, seemed to change size between shots). This seemed vaguely ridiculous and I just couldn’t believe Gollum would have any difficulty escaping from it. This is the weakest part of the entire film that some rescripting – involving Argorn finding Gollum later in the story – could have avoided. I would have liked to see Aragorn chase Gollum all the way to Mordor only to have him taken by the Orcs. It would have added more emotion and drama to the film – Aragorn getting so close only to fail.
As a fan it’s good to see more of Aragorn as a Ranger. Adrian Webster does a rather introverted performance, but is solid throughout and the camera obviously loves him. This is a huge contrast to most fan productions where the acting just makes you cringe! The fight scenes are the gem of this film, especially the one with the Orcs. All the people involved are experts in stage combat and it’s beautifully choreographed. The Hunt for Gollum really pushes the boundaries on fan-films; no Lord of the Rings fan would want to miss it.