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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Hunt for Gollum (review)

It’s the new regular Wednesday feature: a superindie, a movie available for anyone to view that has not gotten a traditional release. It might be available online, or to purchase on DVD from the filmmaker, or some other way that avoids traditional multiplexes and arthouses.

If you’re not already a Tolkien geek, this won’t turn you into one, and if you’re not already a Tolkien geek, you won’t get much out of this… Okay, now that the non-Tolkien geeks are gone: Wow. This is a beautiful little fan film: it’s fan fiction to the Nth degree, a “missing scene” story that Tolkien wrote but Peter Jackson didn’t film for his Lord of the Rings trilogy And rightly so: it wasn’t necessary for the larger telling of the whole big epic, but it’s lovely to see it done up so nicely for, as the proudly fannish creators inform us, “the personal, uncompensated enjoyment of ourselves and other Tolkien fans.” In between the events of The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn (Adrian Webster) attempts to track down Gollum (cleverly CGI’ed, and voiced by Gareth Brough) at the behest of Gandalf (Patrick O’Connor), now that the shriveled little demi-hobbit is determined to reclaim the One Ring from Bilbo Baggins — the danger is that, out and about in Middle Earth, Gollum will be captured by the minions of Sauron and lead them to the Ring. But you already know how that ends… This is, undeniably, a pastiche of Jackson — it wouldn’t exist at all without his big-budget trilogy, but it takes talent to pull off even a pastiche this well. The cinematography, the sound FX, the score, the costumes: the entire production design ranges from hinting at Jackson’s films without outright aping them to, sure, outright aping them. British filmmaker Chris Bouchard pulls it off, particularly the tone of menacing serenity, with such elegant panache, and on a just-about-nonexistent budget, that I would like to see him bring his own original vision to the screen and show us what he can do on his own.

Watch “The Hunt for Gollum” online at thehuntforgollum.com.


MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb | trailer
  • Maybe I’m not a big enough Tolkien geek, but I found this to be very slow at the beginning, so much so that I haven’t even gotten very far into the movie (I keep getting bored).

    I’m gonna do my best to finish it and hopefully change my opinion, but as it stands now The Hunt for Gollum seems to be more “Hey look what we can do” and less “Hey listen to what we have to say” — which just doesn’t interest me these days.

  • Victor Plenty

    My interest in this project arises in part from the large number of other fan films I’ve watched in the past few years, ever since that classic of the genre, Troops, brought it to my attention.

    The beginning of The Hunt for Gollum is not heavy on action, but carries staggering implications for the future of filmmaking. The digital effects that helped run Jackson’s budget into the hundreds of millions of dollars are now being very nearly matched on a shoestring budget. Contemplating what that might mean, as even more cheap computing power becomes available to the interested amateur in the next few years, is both frightening and exhilarating.

    Of course, being a moderately dedicated Tolkien geek also helped give me more patience than the average viewer.

  • Doa766

    if I wasn’t an atheist I would say that watching something that slightly resembles peter jackson’s trilogy is a religious experience

    watched it twice and loved every minute of it, it could’ve been an hour of Aragorn and Gandalf talking at The Prouncing Pony and would’ve loved it anyway

    having said that there’s some changes made to the story that are too much, the main ones being that this story doesn’t happen right before LOTR but many years earlier, Gandalf didn’t know Bilbo had the one Ring until the beginning of the LOTR, Gollum was prisioner of the elves for a long time until he was allowed to take walks on the forest escorted by guards and he escaped and a few other things

    I loved it anyway but I wonder why they chose this story and not others closer to the LOTR that wouldn’t need so much shoe horning to connect it like the story of the only other wizard mentioned on LOTR, the bird guy, that would’ve been be much more interesting and less predictable

  • SethG911

    I know this is resurrecting an old comment but this movie actually takes place within the span of 17 years between Bilbo’s 111th birthday and the time that Frodo leaves the shire. In the Peter Jackson films it is made out that Frodo leaves the shire shortly after Bilbo’s party. In the books however, there is a large span of time in between, in which Bilbo travels to Rivendell and the Lonely Mountain then back to Rivendell to write There and Back Again. This is one of the reasons Bilbo looks much older when they arrive in Rivendell, that and the effects of the ring fading.

    I hope this helps make this movie even more enjoyable for you to watch.

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