Tolkien Review

Tolkien Movie Poster

For over several decades now, the Lord of the Rings has become one of the most beloved fantasy stories of all-time. However, it wasn’t until Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy that a bigger mainstream audience began to discover the amazing world of Middle-Earth. But what if I told you that the man who created Middle-Earth also led an equally unbelievable life. Does Tolkien successfully tell his life story or does it suffer the same fate as other long-winded biopics?

Fortunately, Tolkien is able to focus on a set time in Tolkien’s life instead of his entire life story. This gives the film some breathing room and allows the filmmakers to focus on the important parts of his story.

Tolkien follows J.R.R. Tolkien during the formative years of the legendary author’s life. From his strong bond to his friends to his tumultuous relationship with Edith Bratt to World War I, his life would ultimately come together to create the beloved Middle-Earth saga.

One of the biggest gripes about biopics (see: Bohemian Rhapsody) is that the film could never tell someone’s entire life story. Films such as these are either all over the place or it would spend too much time on one life event and not on another. Thankfully, Tolkien is not that type of film. Yes, the film does cover a large part of his life. However, the film focuses on two important parts of his life: His adolescent and collegiate years.

Tolkien - T.C.B.S.

Those adolescent years set up the basic and most important element of this film, the friendship of the Tea Club and Barrovian Society—T.C.B.S. for short. The friendship between these four individuals is the heart and soul of the entire film. They’re four completely different kids from different parts of life that come together to become the best of friends. Also, they’re funny, altruistic, and loyal. In other words, they’ll probably remind you of you and your friends. At the same time, the friendship seems like the basis of the fellowship between Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippen.

In fact, you’ll get to see a lot of Tolkien’s life experiences influence his Lord of the Rings story. But it doesn’t come right away. There’s a slight build-up to these references before it becomes more and more blatant. Despite his fantastical imagination, his story is simply extraordinary. His life is basically a rags to riches kind of story. His life went through so many lows, that his determination makes him such an engaging and sympathetic character.

As many lows as there were in Tolkien’s life, a lot of his highs came from his relationship with Edith Bratt. Their relationship is sweet and loving as most relationships are. Not to mention, there’s great chemistry between Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins.

Tolkien - Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins

But the thing that makes this film go is Nicholas Hoult as the titular figure. He brings a wide range of emotions to the table which undoubtedly helps tell Tolkien’s roller-coaster life. The same can be said about the members of the T.C.B.S. Their friendship and chemistry are palpable and most importantly, natural. Although they’re phenomenal actors, they do seem to be naturally great friends. So whatever off-screen bonding work that they did, it’s paying great dividends on-screen.

Overall, Tolkien is a fantastic biopic about the legendary author of Lord of the Rings. Although Lord of the Rings references is inevitable, the film does a great job of focusing on the man without piggybacking off of it. Instead, what we get is an emotional tale about friendship, love, and family. But, of course, after the credits start to roll you’ll want to rush straight home and marathon all of Lord of the Rings.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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