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Review: The Hero of Time

So I recently became aware, thanks to a couple of more hardcore Zelda fans than myself (kotukawi and shawnaduck) of the existence and release of a full length fan-made Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time live action film.

You can view the completed work for yourself here. I recommend doing so before reading further. Spoilers (can their REALLY be spoilers for a movie based on a game pretty much all of us have already played?!?) ahead!!!

Clearly this movie was an act of love by some dedicated fans given the time they put in to get it done and the length of time it took (5 years!) to go from start to finish. I want to commend them on their hard work and dedication. For a hobby movie it was quite impressive in many ways. It did, fall short in many ways as well.

The music was well done, however I was dissapointed by the almost but not quite use of key musical themes from the game itself. I can't imagine copyright infringment was a concern, as the movie itself could allready have done that, but perhaps it was in the composer/performers mind? Still it fit the feel of the movie and the style of the game very well.

For the most part I thought the costumes were well done, especially certain parts of links outfit. The glaring exception was Princess Zelda's Sheik outfit. It looked like they threw it together in about 5 minutes. I'm not sure what look they were going for, but whatever it was clearly didn't work, especially when you contrast it with the quality of Link and Ganon's costumes. Gannons make-up was quite well done too, the orange hair and accompanying facial hair looked a lot more realistic than the fake (i hope it was fake) hair that Link got saddled with.

The acting was pretty spotty, although I'm sure everyone did their best, it was definitely not a strong point. Link was pretty questionable, Saria was not really believable. Malin did pretty well, although she didn't show up much. Zelda was better, and Gannon and his main lackey were the strongest of the group.

The story, like the acting had some strong and some weak points. The mother/son take on the Saria/Link relationship could have been interesting, but I don't think the script and acting let it work. Link's journey through the lost woods and encounter with the theif was completely pointless in my opinion. It didn't particular advance the story and the time could have instead been used later on to greater effect.

It was nice to see Malin and Talin in the film, unfortunately Malin's appearance seemed superfluous. And why in the world did she whack link on the back of the head with a frying pan?!?

Link and Zelda's meeting worked well. Gannon's plot to kill the king and make Zelda and Link flee worked as well, except for the weak "we'll drug the king's wine goblet" part. They also needed some reason for Link to head to the Temple of Time, and a reason for him to use the Ocarina. That just kind of happened without explanation.

The passage of time once Link pulled the sword was awkward as well, I think he should have been confronted by the sage in the place beyond Hyrule as he was in the game, before witnessing the devestation of Hyrule, again the sage appearance seemed to be an after thought.

Link's encounter with "Sheik" (never introduced herself as that) could have been handled a bit better, I thought the overly emotional aspect of it didn't really fit well. I did enjoy the Goron idea, as a tribe rugged mountain men, rather than the beasts we see them as in the game, due to budget/effects constraints.

The fight with the dragon was difficult to follow and it almost seemed like Link got lucky. Hardly the actions of a Hero of Time. The scene with the Fire Sage was hillarious and I was looking forward to his interactions with the other sages. Unfortunately they were mere vignettes, we never even saw another sage (the giant octorok was hilarious). A particularly touching (and hinted at early on scene) with Saria and Link meeting again, she as the Sage of the Forest, never occured, I think a huge mistake on the film makers part.

The final confrontation and fight with Gannon was well done I thought, up until Link had to run away and fight him in a field? Zelda's capture and the subsequent post Ganon fight with his minions was not necessary either.

The concluding scene between Link and Zelda was, however, pretty spot on and gave a good ending to an up and down film.

Effects wise was good for the most part. Some effects were well done, even on a limited budget and skill level, but occasionally you had something that just didn't seem well thought out. The final scene in the Temple of Time after Link returns ot the past, the Master Sword was super imposed at an awkward angle, for example.

I think it was overall a good, solid effort, that could have used a little more work to be a great effort. The script needed some serious work to tighten up certain areas, remove some, and expand others. The acting could have used some work as well. Music was mostly good, despite the missing motifs, and the effects were pretty good for the level of the film.

A feature length production was impressive, however I think they would have been better served by doing a series of shorter films in a sort of mini-series format, to better allow for expansion of certain areas. I would have broken it up thusly:

1) Link in the Forest: Introduction of Link and beggining of his journey
2) Link in Hyrule: Meeting Zelda, Gannon's betrayal, ending with Link drawing the Master Sword
3) Link in the Future: Link meets the Sage of Time, sees devestated Hyrule, first encounters Sheik, begins his quest
4) Link on the Mountain: Quest to free the Sage of Fire
5) Link at the Lake: Quest to free the Sage of Water
6) Link in the Desert: Quest to free the Sage of Wind/Spirit
7) Link in the Forest: Quest to free the Sage of the Forest
8) Link vs Gannon: Final confrontation

20-30 minutes each, released over time


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 15th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this review. :)

I feel a lot of effort was put into the beginning of the film. The first 20 minutes or so was quite artistic, at least relative to the end which turned into an unnecessary gore-fest. I really didn't get the point of the final battle after Ganondorf was killed, especially the sudden decapitation. I think the film started to fall apart when Link throws the burning stake at the Epona Inn.

Overall, I guess we can't be too picky. These were obviously a bunch of fans working on a very limited budget and with whatever resources a bunch of kids have access too. At the same time I've seen really old Luis Bunuel and Fritz Lang films that had only a fraction of the budget and technology available to even the most shoe-string production today and know that you can do so much more with limited resources. What the film really lacked was spirit. I didn't get the same warm fan spirit I got from Legend of Link (the other older fan movie.) LoL didn't take itself seriously but it was so obviously done by passionate geeks/fanboys that the amateurish things that made Hero of Time bad didn't matter, and actually played in their favor in many cases.

Nevertheless, it's stuff like this that adds to the legend that is the Zelda (pun!) franchise, and especially Ocarina of Time.
Dec. 16th, 2009 12:25 am (UTC)
Yeah the torch thing at the farm was pretty ridiculous, and the after Gannon fight was also quite pointless in the overall scheme of things. It reminded me of the scouring of the Shire at the end of the Return of the King, I read it because it was part of the book, but I didn't enjoy it.
Dec. 16th, 2009 10:13 am (UTC)
So I watched it tonight, and what I'm taking away from it is that there was serious good, there was some serious bad, and there was some serious wtf.

Honestly, I liked the artistic approaches on the music. There was some serious awesome right there. The first 20-25 minutes were honestly pretty decent. A lot of the costumes I'll agree were pretty decent as well. And the cinematography and choreography were pretty good as well. And for low budget, the special effects were easily passable.

However, a lot of the dialogue didn't make sense, and the delivery was very hit and miss and oftentimes quite horrible. I will admit that I laughed out loud (at 1:30am to boot) when Ganondorf died (SPOILERZ); literally, after getting run through with the sword (and after Link catapulted over him, wtf?), he just thumped down on the ground. Malon hitting Link in the back of the head with a frying pan seemed very... plot devicey to me. And Talon during the ranch raid and EVERYONE when getting notified of the King's death... those scenes weren't good.

And then there was the lots of weirdness. The scene where Mido(?) tried to steal Link's money and sword was... odd. The personification (and seeming importance) of the Fire Sage was odd (especially since the other sages were nonexistent). Rauru seemed to be doing interpretive dance whilst monologuing to Link (but how could he be monologuing since his lips weren't moving; this was done as well by the guard once the King died). The whole scene with the WEIRD shopkeeper seemed to be deus ex machina for getting him a bow (and was supposed to provide comic relief and/or a reference to the game, I suppose? I don't know).

I mean, sure, it's alright. It won't be something that I'll be willing to watch time and time again like Legend of Link, but I would watch this with friends so that we could MST3K it the entire time. And I would like that.

By the way, I'm convinced that Zelda's "vision" of her with Ganondorf and Link is not a vision but a fantasy or wet dream. Seriously, while Link is impatiently pacing about in Zelda's room, she's just staring.... always watching him... as if she isn't even blinking. That just crept me out, lol.

All in all, I do appreciate the fact that they did it. I probably couldn't do much better. I couldn't organize something this big, and I doubt I could have acted it better. I think the major drawback to this movie is that it tried to fill a few too many checkboxes -- homage to OoT, comedy, drama, AND pseudo-blockbuster thriller (given the attempt at epic fight scenes). However, when a movie is trying to take itself seriously, all of these boxes (especially comedy) are hard to do right, and it feels like it missed the boat on a few of them... which means that it gets somewhat fragmented into the good and the bad.

Kudos to them for trying though! I appreciate it for what it is.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )



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