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“Tolkien” A Journey to Fellowship




Review by John Delia, Sr.

It would be interesting to see how many teens and twenty-something’s will be going to see the film Tolkien that opens this weekend everywhere. Reason being, it’s the action/adventure audience that dominated the box office during the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy. The trailer for Tolkien tends to push the war with images of creatures from those two masterpieces and not the romance and friendships of the author, that’s the basis for 70 percent of the film. That said, it may just be a chance for that crowd to see a real masterwork without all the CGI violence.

We find John Ronald Tolkien (played by Harry Giby), now a youngster of 12, being raised by his mother in London. She loves reading thrilling stories to Ronald and his brother Hilary (James MacCallum) at bedtime with the aid of a spinning shadow reflector and they would who be engrossed to the point of mind boggling imaginings. But, her death from a diabetes puts Ronald on a different path when the now orphaned youth finds himself in news school melding with social upper class brats Robert Gilson (Albie Marber), Chris Wiseman (Ty Tennant) and Geoff Smith (Adam Bregman). They become an invincible brotherhood, one that will bring stability and “family” to Ronald.

Now older and at college the film leads into Ronald Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) adulthood years still with inseparable best friends and adventurous as ever. At college the foursome are still going at it, but things are not quite as favorable grade wise until Professor Wright (Derek Jacobi) comes into his life. And a chance meeting introduces him to the lovely Edith Bratt (Lily Collins) that begins his first romance.

Director Dome Karukoski keeps his film moving along at a nice pace introducing new characters and placing a few road blocks in Tolkien’s journey through adulthood. It’s poetry of another kind, sometimes joyful, other versus sad and disturbing. Whether it be war or other tragedies, the film gets inside of you and festers as the man faces challenges that will test his will and open doors to a world of fantasy.

The acting by the whole cast is brilliant from the four teens that become inseparable to the four men who continue their fellowship. Keeping the film lively, adding comic relief and advancing a very profound story, the actors that create the friends of Tolkien are what makes the film work.

As for Nicholas Hoult’s interpretation of the master writer, it surly makes for an enjoyable two hours. As every scene begins, Hoult’s Tolkien is at the center of another journey much like the books he would eventually write. For those who are huge fans of the Rings and Hobbit you’ll find yourself seeing beyond this movie as you identify the hidden meanings of each chapter of Tolkien’s life. It’s a fascinating experience to recognize things like a Verdi opera that’s about magic and the power of a ring, the search for a friend in the mud filled trenches of WWI, the hugging a tree in a forest, and so much more.

Tolkien has been rated PG-13 for some sequences of war violence. Please note that war is shown as a hell with bodies lying in mud and hideous imaginary of horsemen are roaming the battle field creating death. Be cautious when deciding to allow immature children see the film as it does have some scenes that are inappropriate for youngsters.

FINAL ANALYSIS: the perfect companion piece to Tolkien’s writings. (5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Patrick Gibson, Pam Ferris, Laura Donnelly, Genevieve O’Reilly, Derek Jacobi, Craig Roberts, Colm Meaney, Anthony Boyle, Tom Glynn-Carney, Harry Giby,
Directed by: Dome Karukoski
Written by: David Gleeson, Stephen Beresford
Genre: Biography, Drama
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sequences of war violence
Running Time: 1 hr. 52 min.
Opening Date: May 10, 2019
Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Released in: Standard

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