Is the new ‘Tolkien’ movie worth watching? Here’s what the reviews say

Tolkien, a new movie about the creator of The Lord of the Rings, is out in UK cinemas today.

The biopic from Finnish director Dome Karukoski stars X-Men actor Nicholas Hoult as the young J. R. R. Tolkien.

The cast also includes Lily Collins (Les Miserables), Colm Meaney (Star Trek), Pam Ferris (Call the Midwife) and Derek Jacobi (Last Tango in Halifax).

Watch the trailer:

The official synopsis reads: “Tolkien explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the “fellowship” apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-Earth novels.”

We’ve rounded up a selection of reviews to help you decide if you’d like to watch it:


“Whether or not the film satisfies the fans of Jackson’s movies or Tolkien’s books, or keeps his family happy, this is still a sympathetic and sensitive portrait of the novelist as a young man, evolving his creative vision. If you want to know where Bilbo Baggins came from, this is a good place to start.” ★★★ – The Independent


“…a very straightforward biopic about an artistic genius trying to realize his Great Expectations, particularly in the last vestiges of Edwardian England, it is the sense of melancholy loss and a snapshot of British privilege’s last unchallenged gasp that makes Tolkien a worthwhile journey.” ★★★★ – Den of Geek


“Karukoski’s entertaining film boasts flair and narrative ambition, but ultimately fails to completely break free of its traditional biopic frame.” ★★★ – Empire


“Where’s the drama in this dull stroll through the life of JRR Tolkien?” ★★ – The Times


Tolkien might not as exciting or engaging as his epics about Middle-earth, but it’s an otherwise worthwhile biopic that’s elevated by the resonant love stories at its core … And if nothing else, Tolkien will leave those unfamiliar with the author’s real life with a fresh perspective on the fantasy settings he imagined.” – Screen Rant


“A sweet innocence and high-mindedness pervade this … affecting biopic of the Lord of the Rings creator.” ★★★ – The Guardian


“We should mention that the Tolkien estate has grumpily disavowed the film. This seems a bit mean. It’s mostly harmless. It’s often very touching. It’s better than any of the Hobbit films.” ★★★ – The Irish Times


“This perfunctory biopic turns real life into the stuff of fantasy.” ★★ – The Telegraph


Tolkien will be released in the USA on Friday 10th May.

The complete The Lord of the Rings trilogy box set is available on Amazon.