Hot on the heels of yesterday's Dungeons & Dragons short is another fantasy epic, the length and quality of which is in sharp contrast to Choices. The Hunt for Gollum, released on May 3rd, is a prequel set just before the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. At 40 minutes, it stands at the long end of "short", such that it exceeds the constraints of a single YouTube video. The entire film is available as a single high-definition viewing on the official Web site, but here it is divided into four separate videos, compiled into a single playlist:
This film most impressed me in its ability to echo Peter Jackson's trilogy in look, which required not only casting talented look-alikes as Aragorn and Gandalf, but applying high-value costumes and makeup. This could not have been cheap, but the end product benefits from the investment. I speak from experience what a difference such dedication can make. I once appeared in an independent fantasy film called Tomorrow's Night. Whether or not that movie was ever released, I don't know; it may be best if it was shelved, as unlike the low-budget films featured this week, Tomorrow's Night was no-budget.
What impressed me less was the script itself. As a prequel, The Hunt for Gollum neither fills necessary gaps nor leaves room for surprises. It can end only so many ways without disrupting what's to follow in J.R.R. Tolkien's well-known trilogy and Peter Jackson's popular adaptation of same. What we get instead is a lot of running around and fighting. Fortunately, that's what Hunt does best, as the choreographer and characters obviously know what they're doing. This film may lack the heavy-handed morality of Choices, but I far prefer it for its ambition and subtlety.
If the idea of an untold tale of LotR doesn't sit well with you, there is some relief to be found in the pending live-action adaptation of The Hobbit, which Peter Jackson is writing as two films. It was originally believed that the second of these films would be an original story filling in the sixty years between the conclusion of The Hobbit and the commencement of Fellowship. Fortunately, Mr. Jackson recently clarified: "We decided it would be a mistake to try to cram everything into one movie… [This] allows us to make The Hobbit in a little more style, if you like, of the [LotR] trilogy."
In part, Independent Online Cinema has done with The Hunt for Gollum what even Peter Jackson would not. Thank goodness to online media for giving us a place to be bold and experimental.