The long-awaited independent Zelda movie The Hero of Time premiered in June 2009, has had a couple of public screenings since then, and it's only a matter of time before it becomes available online to everyone worldwide. Therefore, it is time that a review of the movie is done. For those who have not seen the movie yet, this review does not contain any spoilers, so you do not need to worry about anything being given away.
The Hero of Time Reviewed:
Zelda fans have long viewed the idea of a movie based on the series with a mixture of excitement and trepidation, wondering if it is possible to successfully adapt the beloved video game series onto the big screen. Nintendo won't give the go-ahead for an official movie, but a few years ago a group called BMB Finishes announced that they were making an independent Zelda movie called The Hero of Time. When the first trailer for this movie was released in early 2006, it sparked heated discussion among Zelda fans, some loving the fact that Zelda was being brought to the big screen, while others didn't like the look of the film one bit. And while The Hero of Time is not the only Zelda fan-film to have been made, it remains as the most high-profile of them all. Regardless of whether they loved or hated the idea of it, many fans closely followed the progress of this movie. After several years, the movie is now complete, and the wait has been worth it.
The film is a loose adaption of the most well-known Zelda game of them all, Ocarina of Time. All of the classic Zelda elements are there - Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, the Triforce, Hyrule - yet the story is a new Zelda tale in its own right. This isn't a bad thing, since gamers who know the Ocarina story will know exactly what to expect with a direct adaption, and the differences are what keeps The Hero of Time entertaining. You won't always know what will happen next. In fact, comparisons to the Ocarina of Time game should be kept to a minimum, to allow more appreciation of the world and story that BMB Finishes have created. It is clear while watching the movie that it was never meant to be a direct translation of Ocarina of Time onto the big screen, and it was deliberately not named Ocarina of Time (even the ocarina itself does not feature as heavily in the movie as it does in the game).
The story is classic Zelda, so the basic premise of the plot is similar to many of the games: The land of Hyrule and its Princess, Zelda, are threatened by the evil Ganondorf, leader of the Gerudo people. Ganondorf attempts to gain possession of the magical Triforce so he can harness its power to do his wicked bidding and rule the land. A young hero named Link must rise up and save Hyrule from Ganondorf. Link beginshis journey as a young man living a sheltered life in the forest, and after witnessing terrible things done by Ganondorf to Hyrule and the people he has met on his journey, he becomes more and more determined to defeat him. While there are a few dark moments in the story, the movie never takes itself too seriously, and there are plenty of humourous scenes along the way, as well as hidden tidbits for the extra amusement of Zelda fans. While the movie will appeal mainly to Zelda fans, anyone who enjoys fantasy adventure should enjoy this movie, and they'll still be able to follow the plot because The Hero of Time attempts to cater to those who haven't played Zelda.
Translating a video game from console to the big screen is never an easy task. Video game movies have a reputation for being pretty bad, and you only need to remember that a Nintendo game has not been made into a movie since the poorly-received Super Mario Bros. movie of the early 1990s. BMB Finishes have succeeded very well in adapting Zelda for the big screen and condensing it into an approximately 1 hour 40 minute run-time. Zelda games mainly consist of Link running around by himself, exploring dungeons and solving puzzles, and it would get very boring very fast to see this in a movie. While the Link in this movie must also complete a lot of his quest alone, the scenes where Link is by himself are broken up as he meets several colourful characters along the way. The story moves quite quickly, and does not become repetitive with watching Link do the same thing over and over like he does in the games. Zelda fans who were worried about the fact that Link speaks in this movie need not be. Yes, he does speak, but not excessively, and the film strikes a perfect balance between having Link talk when he needs to, and following the games where other characters do most of the talking.
One of the highlights of this movie is its beautiful soundtrack, composed by George R. Powell. The music is original, with a definite Zelda flavour, and it is stunning. It adapts to fit the changing moods in the movie remarkably well, and my only complaint about the music in the film is that there are a couple of places where the music is a little too loud, making it hard to hear some of the dialogue.
To bring a game like Zelda, with its numerous fantasy elements to the big screen and do it justice would require a Hollywood-scale budget. Considering the fact that this movie was made on a limited budget, paid for out of BMB's pockets, it's a fantastic production. The movie makes quite heavy use of computer generated effects, most of which are very well-done, if not spectacular (check out some of the monsters), but there are also times when the effects can be a bit rough, such as distinctly different lighting changes on different camera angles. But overall, The Hero of Time is far better than the average fan film.
If you're looking for a Hollywood big-budget style, blow-by-blow recreation of Ocarina of Time, you'll be disappointed by The Hero of Time. If you're looking for a spirited new telling of a familiar story, made by Zelda fans for the enjoyment of other Zelda fans, then you're in for a treat. I went into the movie knowing that it was made with limited resources and willing to makes allowances for this fact, and my own expectations were pleasantly exceeded. Unless Nintendo themsevles give the go-ahead for an official Zelda movie, The Hero of Time will be hard to beat. And maybe most importantly of all, BMB Finishes have proved that it is indeed possible to successfully tell the classic Zelda story in movie format.
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