A well-appointed, if languid biopic of the famed author of prequel The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings looks at his determinative years (early 20th Century) before being quite influential in all things medieval and fantasy. Besides being a huge boost in Peter Jackson’s stellar career (tourism in his native Kiwi habitat), as well as the rise in ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ and the continuing power of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ (currently in its last season).
Tolkien (Toll-Keen) stars Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Apocalypse, The Favourite, Warm Bodies, remember About A Boy opposite Hugh Grant) as the learned character known as ‘Ronald’ in what mainly amounts to an exercise in temperateness that could have a somnolent effect not in a desirable interpretative state of mind.
Successful in his native Finland, Dome Karukoski’s direction isn’t able to light up what Hoult internalizes for the inspiration to grasp cultures and language revealing a rare authorial voice. With the death of his mother, young, orphaned Ronald begins to establish a male ‘fellowship’ at a boarding school and becomes close to musician Edith Bratt (Lily Collins, daughter of hit English musician Phil Collins and of Mirror Mirror as well as Rules Don’t Apply). She gets him interested in attending the opera, notably Wagner’s sweeping The Ring likely fortuitous in addition to his institutional bonding.
Much of Tolkien revolves around the student life and the union with Edith isn’t elaborated enough (though Hoult and Collins immerse themselves into the refined, detailed trappings) to impassion the proceedings. The horrors of the World War I battlefield (in flash-forwarding) are a part of the young man’s milieu but isn’t envisioned here as the Dark Lord Sauron’s long uninterrupted reign with the Dark Tower near the volcano Mount Doom. So, the unwillingness of the estate to endorse this project kept it more muted and unceremonious as the ultimate testimonial is in the rich prose.