Screen Reviews

Published on May 21st, 2019 | by Kevin Given


Movie Review: Tolkien

The life of Lord of the Rings author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (Hoult) finally gets the bio-pic treatment. The film opens with our protagonist on the battle front during world war 1. He’s sick with fever and most people around him are dead. It’s during this time that he thinks back to some of the most important events in his life and his literary inspirations. We see the future author as a young boy (Harry Gilby) as he begins to bond with other young boys who would one day form the “fellowship.” We see his relationship to the priest that mentors him, Father Morgan (Meany), who has to raise him and his brothers after his parents die, and the sometimes conflicted, though generally amicable friendship which develops. We go through the struggles he had with finances, which could have curtailed his education goals, but thankfully didn’t. We see his love for language and how easy learning came to him and, most important, we see his relationship with the woman who would become his wife, Edith Bratt (Collins) blossom on screen.

I was so looking forward to this film. I’m a huge fan of Tolkien, not just his works, but the man himself. But then I read where the Tolkien estate distanced itself from the film, first red flag. It appears that the film downplayed Mr. Tolkien’s faith. This seems to be a trend in Hollyweird now-a-days. Tolkien was a devout Catholic and we don’t see much of that here. How can you respect a man and not show one of the driving forces that made him who he was? Whether you agree with Catholicism or not it’s still what inspired him. The film has beautiful production values and is well-acted. The best part is the developing relationship between Hoult and Collins characters and the actors have great on-screen chemistry. But another problem is that the narrative doesn’t flow. Instead we jump around from era to era. This isn’t easy to do. Some film makers, Like Quentin Tarintino (Pulp Fiction) make it look easy. Others, however, shouldn’t even try. One film that comes to mind is the James Brown biopic Get on Up. Tate Taylor tried this type of story telling and it’s a mess. This film is similar in execution to Tolkien which also is a well-intentioned mess. Good looking and well-acted, but we become confused with the jumps through time. Once we start to invest emotionally in what’s happening, we’re taken away from the moment and into another one. Another thing is the clear lack of imagination. We do get some glimpses of what inspired him, like when the Dragon appears over the World War I battlefield. But other wise this is strangely subdued and diluted. One reason for this is the aforementioned diluting the importance of the man’s faith. Which was the most important inspiration to him. I’m not going to go into detail about that in this review but if you’re interested in discovering more (1). In summation we have a gorgeous attempt at understanding the man that ultimately falls a little short. **1/2 (7.6 rating.)

Director: Dome Karukoski

Producer: Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, David Ready, Kris Thykier

Writer: David Gleeson, Stephen Beresford

Music: Thomas Newman

Cinematography: Lasse Frank

Production company: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Chernin Entertainment

Distributer: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures


Nicholas Hoult

Lily Collins

Colm Meaney

Derek Jacobi


About the Author

Kevin Given has studied with "Longridge Writers Group" and "Writer's Boot Camp" a speech/communications major from the University of Maine Presque-Isle/Orono sites. He has created the "Karl Vincent Vampire Hunter" franchise which includes 2 novels and 8 comic books. They can be found on amazon, Indyplanet and Kindle. For a limited time you can get digital copies of "Karl Vincent: Vampire hunter" #1 and "Files of Karl Vincent" #1 for free on Indyplanet. Kevin is producing the third novel in the series "Dracula Rising" (working title) and developing "Foul Blood" into comic book form.

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑

Animated Social Media Icons by Acurax Responsive Web Designing Company
Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On YoutubeCheck Our Feed