I try to keep my Fan Film Friday column as current as possible, but every now and then I come across a classic production I can’t wait to share with my fellow fan film folks. That’s the case this time around as we review The Lord of the Rings: “The Hunt for Gollum.”
Set 17 years after the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins’ 111th birthday party, the 38-minute tale begins with a voice-over that states this adventure takes place after the re-emergence of the Great Ring of Power, which the Dark Lord Sauron is seeking to add its might to his own.
The ring had been missing for 500 years, during which Gollum (voiced by Gareth Brough and Jason Perino, portrayed by Christopher Dingu and Matthew Cunningham) kept it and was consumed by its evil. Being in contact with the artifact reduced him from being a human to becoming a withered creature who hates Baggins since the Hobbit recently stole it from him.
The scene shifts to an inn in Mirkwood, where the Ranger known as Aragorn (Adrian Webster) meets Gandalf the Grey (Patrick O’Connor). The wizard tells Aragorn that he has made “a grave error” by overlooking “something important” concerning the former owner of the ring.
Gollum, who Gandalf states is “murderously protective” of the ring, has left his cave with his mind bent on recovering it. If Sauron were to learn from Gollum that the powerful ring has resurfaced, the evil wizard would stop at nothing to retrieve it and unleash havoc on Middle-earth.
“I will go” looking for Gollum using his tracking skills, Aragorn replies. “I will find him.”
“The road will not be easy,” Gandalf says. “If you can’t find him, no one can.”
At first, Aragorn’s quest is unsuccessful, but his luck improves when he encounters a fellow Ranger named Arithir (Arin Alldridge). When Arithir says he’s heard rumors about a creature that has been stealing fish from local villagers, Aragorn concludes that Gollum is in the area.
The Rangers go their separate ways, and soon after, Aragorn encounters two squabbling Orcs (think of them as zombies with pointy ears at half mast). The Ranger makes short work of Dabgash (Dan Styles) with his sword, and as he kills the disgruntled Orc (Joshua Kennedy), Aragorn tells him: “This land does not belong to you.”
Finally, the Ranger finds Gollum in a huge cave and uses a fish to lure the creature outside, where Aragorn uses a snare trap to capture the whining and protesting creature in a sack.
But while returning home with his prey, Aragorn comes across a squad of at least a dozen Orcs, and while he’s able to defeat them—including their chieftain Goblok (Gareth Brough)—he realizes after the battle that he’s been hit by a poison dart and lapses into unconsciousness.
As he struggles to wake up, the Ranger has a vision of the Arwen (Rita Rammani), an Elf who tells him that he has the strength of his forefathers, and “you have my heart.”
When Aragorn recovers, it’s dusk, and Gollum has escaped.
Spoiler Alert: If you’d rather watch the fan film’s ending yourself, skip down to the link at the end of this article. If not, just continue reading.
Even though it’s night, the Ranger searches desperately using a torch to light the way until he finally discovers that Gollum is hiding up in a tree. The creature explains: “It’s coming. It’s here!”
Aragorn then finds himself in a duel with a Ring Wraith (Ross Morrison and Emma Hunt) and is able to force the creature to flee.
The Ranger then feels a hand on his right shoulder, which belongs to an Elf (Max Bracey) who says: “Come with me. We have your creature.”
With the Elves’ help, Aragorn is able to finally bring Gollum to Mirkwood, where he’s imprisoned and questioned by Gandalf.
The wizard states that “the creature is pitiful, wretched.” However, the presence of him and the other races means “the ring must leave the Shire.”
“I must go at once,” Gandalf states. “The shadow of the past once more returns. Nevertheless, by Gollum’s capture, we know the enemy’s next move. Frodo must be protected at all costs.”
When asked about Gollum’s fate, the wizard replies that his “wretchedness is beyond our help. He will never be free.”
Meanwhile, in his prison cell, the creature says he will kill “Bagginses” and reclaim his “Precious.”
With that in mind, it’s time to put on my Clint Eastwood hat and get reviewing.
The Good: Let me add my voice to those of all the people who’ve stated that “Gollum” is one of the best independent productions out there. The story is clever, the actors are great, and the film stays true to the Lord of the Rings movies. The production has been viewed at least 10 million times, another sign of the film’s quality.
I also found it interesting that two of the actors really resembled their counterparts in the movie series. Many times, fan folks have to recast in order to get a good actor, but this production had the best of both worlds regarding Aragorn (Adrian Webster is a dead ringer for Viggo Mortensen) and Gandalf the Grey (Patrick O’Connor closely resembles Ian McKellen).
The Bad: You just have to love the brutish and downright ugly Orcs. However, their fighting skills aren’t much to write home about since Aragorn single-handedly takes out more than a dozen in the film. It’s long past time for these folks to take lessons on how to fight and end up alive.
The Ugly: Even though I’m not the world’s biggest Lord of the Rings fan, I’m saddened that the folks behind “Gollum,” Independent Online Cinema, apparently haven’t produced another film, whether in this universe or another. This movie was one of the most enjoyable productions I’ve ever seen, so I hope we’ll hear more from them in the future.
If you want to learn about the people behind “The Hunt for Gollum,” just click here to go to their organization’s website. If you want to watch the production, either click here for the High Definition version or click on the link below.