Critic Reviews



Based on 37 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Handsomely made in the customarily fastidious style of most period biographical dramas, Tolkien is strongly served by Hoult, who, after four X-Men outings (and a supporting role in last year's The Favourite), demonstrates that it's high time he moved on from that sort of thing to more interesting and challenging dramatic characterizations.
Tolkien may disappoint fans looking for a LOTR origin but will please those who like stories of art, love & friendship.
Karukoski’s entertaining film boasts flair and narrative ambition, but ultimately fails to completely break free of its traditional biopic frame.
This is a very male world and perhaps the inner life of Edith remains a mystery (as perhaps it might have been for Tolkien), but its earnestness and idealism are refreshing.
While it still dilutes Tolkien’s memory by molding his life to the narrow dimensions of a middle-brow feature that’s too safe for the arthouse and too small for the multiplex, at least it does so in a sincere attempt to trace the etymology of Tolkien’s work, and to emphasize that where stories come from can be as meaningful as where they take us.
Well-informed, enlightening writing on Tolkien’s life and creative process is hardly scarce. But his genius stems from his scholarship, which doesn’t obviously lend itself to cinema, even with Derek Jacobi on hand as a professor-cum-mentor fruitily declaiming in Gothic as he potters around the quad.
The film – stately, well-acted, and ultimately unsubstantial – dilutes its considerable charms with hoary literary biopic conventions, and then risks strangling them entirely with its reductively literal takes on the vagaries of artistic inspiration.
Time Out
Despite the best efforts of its committed young cast, and especially a game (if suspiciously old-looking) Nicholas Hoult as Tolkien in his late teens and early twenties, it’s a plodding and polite portrayal that holds few surprises.
Slant Magazine
The film preaches of the love of creative freedom, yet finds no original form of expression of its own.
If you were trying to produce a parody of what a Tolkien biopic would look like, you’d get the exact same film.

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