If all you want is just a simple, cliff notes version of Tolkien’s life and a brief understanding of his journey towards writing and developing The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then this movie is your ticket.
Nicholas Hoult is solid here playing John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (J.R.R. Tolkien); Hoult delivers a strong performance, attempting to capture the early life and formative years of Tolkien. However, this movie falls somewhat flat for me. There was plenty of room to be daring with this biopic, but it felt like lazy storytelling.
Nevertheless, the performances by the entire cast are remarkable. Lilly Collins is excellent as Edith Bratt (Tolkien’s wife and muse), Derek Jacobi is a scene-stealer in every scene he is in, which is a good thing; I always enjoy watching him.
The performances by the four friends who together form the brotherhood called T.C.B.S. (Tea Club and Barrovian Society), which eventually will be called “the fellowship,” are outstanding. There is a pretty remarkable scene when a young Tolkien attends the opera with his future wife Edith to see Wagner’s Ring cycle, “one ring to rule them all.”
All of those things were pretty cool, but this type of biopic deserves a more careful and deliberate approach, similar to how National Geographic is doing their “Genius” T.V. series, based on extraordinary figures of history. The first season was focused on Einstein and the second season on Picasso. Those two seasons were excellent, and maybe any future attempts to make another Tolkien biopic should be approached similarly.
Maybe, an eight to ten-episode T.V. series rather than a movie would’ve been more appropriate. I think it is virtually impossible to properly showcase and highlight specific aspects of Tolkien’s life and genius in a 112-minute film.
The whole thing felt like an origin story gone a bit lazy. Still, TOLKIEN is very entertaining and definitely worth watching. The performances end up rescuing this convoluted script.
Two out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿