The Hunt for Gollum
I wasn’t entirely sure if Today’s movie should count as a theatrical release. The Hunt for Gollum is technically a fan-film. Based on a part of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings that’s only hinted at in the films, and not given a whole lot of detail in the book either, as I recall, the 40 minute short film can’t be distributed commercially because it probably violates copyright law. However, it has apparently been exhibited at least one festival, so I decided that it meets my standards.
Sometimes referred to as a prequel, the film is actually set during the first act of The Fellowship of the Ring, during the period between when Gandalf leaves Frodo with the ring, and when he returns to set Frodo on his journey. The film focuses on Aragorn (Adrian Webster) who is dispatched by Gandalf (Patrick O’Connor) to (hopefully) capture Gollum before he can reveal the whereabouts of the One Ring, to minions of the enemy.
Judged as a fan film, The Hunt, is rather remarkable, it was produced on a budget of only £3,000 but the costuming (particularly for the orcs,) is remarkable and the film as a genuine cinematic feel to it, although there is one fight scene that is horribly under-lit. The acting is competent but certainly not up to the standards set by the likes of Viggo Mortensen and Ian McKellen.
Still, the film absolutely makes the most of what it has to work with. There is one particularly excellent scene where rather than the mass spectacle that would have been unaffordable, the film instead opts for an intense, brutal, and almost intimate, fight to the death. In another clever cost-cutting measure, Gollum spends much of his “on-screen” time tied up in a sack. The filmmakers do an admirable job of making the sack look like it has a wriggling creature, psychotically rambling inside it, while saving a bundle by avoiding CGI.
As a companion piece to The Lord of the Rings, the film does do a decent job. It tells an interesting, though ultimately unnecessary, piece of the story that the Peter Jackson trilogy omits. It’s fun to see a portrayal of Aragorn in his capacity as Strider, the ranger. It’s interesting to get a more specific feel for Gollum’s timeline in the first film. However, this is all pretty much only going to entertain fans that are committed enough to the franchise to be able to overlook the good but not great production values, weak acting and the fact that there’s not really much of a story here.
As for my recommendation, this is a tough one. I certainly enjoyed the film, and I think most serious fans of The Lord of the Rings films will want to see it. It’s certainly not a waste of time & and I truly respect and admire everyone involved in its production. However, the film was made for a very specific audience. I hate to say it, but for anyone but a hardcore Tolkien fan, or fan-film enthusiast, it’s just not worth seeing.