Alrighty my lovely congregation, today we have an early review of Tolkien. J.R.R. Tolkien’s original fellowship showcases the adventures and romances that inspired one of the greatest literature works and a chief inspiration for the fantasy genre — The Lord of the Rings. The film takes us from Tolkien’s boyhood to right before begins penning LOTR intermixed with the Battle of Somme during World War I…
Tolkien, for us geeks, should have been one of those movies that received a bit more pomp and stance; but, flying under the radar might be a good thing, too, as more editing would have done this wonders. Tolkien drags. Whereas Avengers: Endgame is a 3-hour film that feels like two hours, Tolkien is a 2-hour film that felt like three. Instead of being on par with The Imitation Game, Tolkien is a film that doesn’t exactly know what it wants to be— a biopic or a war film? It’s a little bit on the level with Bohemian Rhapsody, a movie that could have been so good but falls just short.
Tolkien himself lived an amazing life, going from orphan to private school to Oxford to fighting in World War I to creating The Lords of the Rings. And when you have that much in your life, it sure can be a challenge figuring out what to include and what not to; unfortunately the film loses steam as it juxtaposes the past with his trench fever during the Battle of Somme. A linear fashion would have allowed the film to flow so much better, seeing how its back and forth format often muddles the scenes. And although Dome Karukoski‘s direction is sound, the emotions, cinematography and the scenes would surely have felt tighter in better hands.
At least Nicholas Hoult does an amazing job as the titular character. In fact, Tolkien is a wonderfully cast film. Colm Meaney and Derek Jacobi are fantastic actors, are able to take a 5-minute scene and make it a masterclass in acting. Lily Collins does an admirable job as Edith Bratt, Tolkien’s future wife, despite a character arc that was horribly done. Tolkien finds its footing when Hoult is with his mates — his fellowship, if you will. We get glimpses of the battle that would inspire but.. it’s just a glimpse. We see who Samwise was based off of, but, once again, it’s.. just a glimpse.
There is nothing worse than a film that has so much potential and so much going for it, only to fall short and become a “what could have been”. But in the least we can thank Tolkien (and Peter Jackson) for all those brilliant Lord of the Rings movies, yeah? 3/5 Bibles.