Born of Hope

The movie Born of Hope is an hour long Lord of the Rings film made by a few of the franchise’s fans and put on youtube. For the conceivably small budget usually associated with the word fan film, Born of Hope has fantastic special effects for a fan film. It emulates Peter Jackson’s view of Middle Earth from the Orcs and armor that was created to the cloaks and clothing. Hell, even the swords seem to come out of Peter Jackson’s prop department.

The movie is a prequel to the Lord of the Rings, following the life of Aragorn’s father, Arathorn (which shouldn’t cause any confusion among the casual reader at all) and his small band of rangers who are attacking Orcs near their woods who are, coincidentally, looking for the one ring among any people they can find (Despite everything wondering why the Orcs are spending their time looking for jewelry, no one seems to be able to put two and two together.) The acting is better than suspected, but still a bit to strive for. Unlike most fan films, there’s actual emotion in their voice, but sometimes it seems like they’re not doing all that they can.

Praise, however, must be sung for these actors, for many of them have learned elvish and speak it fluently throughout the movie (unless they’re ad libbing it). The movie’s visuals are usually great, but at two points the film stretched into areas outside of their budget zones. One is with a hill troll. It looks good on first glance, but a second glance shows it’s just a green screen effect. The same can be said for a certain character from Rivendell at the end. “Hey, nice green screen background you got there. Oh? Oh that’s the halls of Rivendell? Sorry. My mistake.” It’s a problem that could easily have been avoided if they didn’t try to go over their heads. Taking risks is one thing. Risks that are bound to fail if you look at the footage are another.

Speaking of problems, there’s this little rule called “Show, don’t tell.” This film seems to have a problem with that. There’s far too much narration in this film. At one point in the end, Arathorn announces that “No Orc shall leave this forest alive.” A woman’s voice narrated, “And so, Arathorn led a great battle…” That doesn’t need to be narrated. We can literally see the battle unfolding before our eyes. The audience is not stupid. We know what’s going on. To be fair, however, they probably needed to even out the roles between the actors.

Another problem with this movie is the Orc’s plan against the Dúnedain (elvish for Men of the West). They spend many of their lives trying to kill them all in random acts of violence. But . . . why? Why not try to kill a bigger threat? Like, say, anything that isn’t a pocket of fifty or less men living in the middle of a godforsaken forest? Aren’t there elves you can be killing? Surely that’s a greater threat than a group of men that is less than an army. And then when the Dúnedain finally decided to send a man to figure out what the Orcs are doing, they decide to send Arathorn alone. Because that’s sure to end well.

The speech falls well on the ear, mimicking Tolkien’s writing style through how the characters speak. This is another way that the group portrays Peter Jackson’s version of Middle Earth frighteningly well.

One of the worst problems this movie has, however, is the hackneyed love triangle that is completely unnecessary to the plot. Hey, it’s a woman. A woman who can fight! Let’s make her fall in love with the hero in a subplot that goes nowhere and the hero never finds out! It doesn’t help her character at all. She had potential to be great, yet the love triangle made her characterization flat and unnecessary.

In the end, I’m probably being too hard on this film. Yes, it’s a fan film and yes they put a lot of work into making this good. It really is fun to watch, there are just things that nag at your mind that really could’ve been avoided if someone read through the script one last time. In the end, it’s a fun film about Middle Earth that’s a good watch, it just doesn’t go as far as it could’ve gone.