Tolkien (Blu-ray) – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Biography, Drama, War
Director: Dome Karukoski
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Duration: 112 minutes

Tolkien (Blu-ray) – Movie Review

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Good: Topic, Acting, Depiction of fiction and non-fiction blended together
Bad: Still many unanswered questions remain
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(1 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

When you hear the name Tolkien being uttered, Lord of the Rings, or The Hobbit will immediately spring to mind. While these titles, be it in their original book form or the movie adaptations, have conquered the world, you’ll probably know very little about the author and creative mind behind the stories. We know that these stories are over several decades old and that the author sadly didn’t see his stories come to life on the big screen, but we don’t know how his epic tales came to life and what shaped his brain to come up with such legendary stories. Tolkien, the movie about some important events in J. R. R. Tolkien’s life, tries to shed some light on what drove the man to pick up his pen.

The story begins with Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) waking up in the midst of a small dormitory in one of the many trenches during the First World War. He is reading a letter that concerns his best friend Geoffrey Smith (Anthony Boyle), who seemingly isn’t writing any letters home anymore. Due to this, Tolkien sets out to search for him, together with one of his trusted underlings, Sam (Craig Roberts). The movie then starts to shift back and forth between Tolkien’s past and what is going on now.

We slowly see the young Tolkien (Harry Gilby) and his brother Hilary (Guillermo Bedward) being raised with fantastical stories by their mother Mabel (Laura Donnelly). It seems both boys lost their father at a young age and are now taken care of by their mother, as well as Father Francis (Colm Meaney). Mere moments later Mabel passes away and the brothers are now being placed in a household ran by Mrs. Faulkner (Pam Ferris). Thanks to her somewhat esteemed background, Tolkien is able to attend King Edward’s School amidst many other boys that have a prominent heritage. This is also the beginning of Tolkien’s friendship, where he gets to know the young Geoffrey (Adam Bregman), Chris (Ty Tennant) and Robert (Albie Marber). The eager boys start their own society that revolves solely around artistic professions, rather than what their parents want them to become later in life.

The flow of the movie is somewhat special. You’ll go through several events in Tolkien’s life, which aren’t shown in chronological order. You’ll go from past, to present, to further in the past, etc. The movie also shows us certain events that can be tied in with his stories, such as a private that helps Tolkien look for his friend in the trenches by the name of Sam. He also talks about Wagner’s Ring Cycle, which in turn refers to Tolkien’s magnum opus, Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit). The movie is a bit slow and not always extremely eventful, but it graces the entire production from start to finish. The subtle inclusions of fantasy tales in both Tolkien’s youth and adult life are well portrayed and add to the atmosphere of the entire film.

Nicholas Hoult takes the lead for the biggest portion of the movie in this semi-biography of Tolkien. He shows us how the writer went through the brutal ordeal of having fought in the First World War. His younger counterpart, Harry Gilby, plays the teenage version of Tolkien and both actors convey the same emotions of camaraderie, love, grief and of course his passion for languages and the stories he can make with them. Other cast members play his close friends, and while they each have a decent amount of screen time, they feel like supporting roles, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Tolkien’s love interest is played by Mimi Keene for the young teenage version of Edith Bratt, and Lily Collins for the adult representation of Edith. Another familiar face graces the cast as the guardian of Tolkien, namely Colm Meaney, who has starred in many other bigger productions over the years.

The movie doesn’t come with any noticeable special features other than the short First Look feature, which revolves around some behind the scenes thoughts of the two main cast members. Other than that, there’s a gallery to browse through, commentaries and deleted scenes. While the movie speaks for itself, some exclusive material of Tolkien would have certainly been appreciated. That being said, the movie doesn’t require too much as it stands quite tall on its own.


Tolkien may only portray a small portion of Tolkien’s life, it’s a very interesting piece of cinema. The movie handles emotional subjects of losing people close to you, and how this affects the human psyche. While some questions remain unanswered when the credits start rolling, we advise taking a look at this movie for those who are interested in the famed author’s work. While this may not be a complete work of fiction like Tolkien’s work, it sometimes shows us events that are only inches away from the fantasy novels that this mastermind created over the years.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Tolkien (Blu-ray) - Movie Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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