Skip to main content
film review

Nicholas Hoult in Tolkien.Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

  • Tolkien
  • Directed by: Dome Karukoski
  • Written by: David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford
  • Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins and Harry Gilby
  • Classification: PG; 112 minutes


2 out of 4 stars

Stately, handsome and ferociously romantic, the new biopic of British high-fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, though there is some excellent tea drinking to be had.

Tolkien, of course, is the author of Middle-Earth novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – books about fellowship as much as they are about fantasy. Tolkien, from the Finnish director Dome Karukoski, stays true to the theme, for better or for worse.

Movies opening this week: Give me a P for Poms and Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

We see an orphaned Tolkien reluctantly befriend three high-minded school boys who bond over rugby, teahouse salons and, eventually, the horrors of the First World War. One of his chums, a would-be poet, is attracted to Tolkien, who, in turn, is obsessed with language and a young lady.

On the battlefields of France, a fevered Second Lieutenant Tolkien fights through a fire-breathing hell that would inspire his future epics, trying to get to his verse-writing pal. The film almost turns into a Peter Jackson-directed Saving Poet Ryan. Shame it didn’t go all the way with that.

Tolkien opens May 10.