Comparable to other biographical dramas such as Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017) and Saving Mr. Banks (2013), Tolkien follows the life of JRR Tolkien, creator of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, which spawned one of the biggest-movie selling franchises of all time, up there with Star Wars and Avengers.
The film (directed by Dome Karukoski) unfolds by continuously flashing between an adult Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) struggling through the mud and blood of the Somme during WWI, trying to find and rescue a dear friend; and Tolkien’s younger self (Harry Gilby), orphaned after his jolly, storytelling mother dies. Placed into foster care and later into a prestigious boys’ academy, he forms a fellowship of creative, like-minded friends. Skipping ahead to the fellowship of the four boys in their late teens, Hoult’s Tolkien finds himself torn between his academic aspirations and his longtime love interest in fellow orphan, Edith (Lily Collins).
Although the film succeeds at dancing a delicate tango between emotions of love, war and friendship it feels as if they try to squeeze in too many blatantly obvious Lord of the Rings connections such as Tolkien’s trusty wartime sidekick revealing his name as Sam and enemy soldiers turning into Nazgul.
Tolkien provides a never-before-seen insight into the life of a writer whose work continues to inspire people on an immense level and you don’t need to be a Lord of the Rings fan to watch this movie.