London’s review published on Letterboxd:
Here's a weird movie I didn't really even know was being made until like 4 months ago. Nicholas Hoult plays our title character, while he has a number of great actors supporting him such as Lily Collins. I guess Lily Collins is really going for a year full of mediocre biopics. That is my main thought about Tolkien overall: mediocre. And that stems for a number of reasons.
The storytelling roadmap they lay out for the film I would say is actually pretty solid. The war scenes are interesting enough and are filled with a sense of nightmares that help to push the horrors of war further. The scenes in the college where Tolkien really dives into both his own languages and the etymology of words from many different cultures are really interesting and the best part of the film. However the main let down was definitely the early scenes. A lot of the childhood scenes were poorly acted or otherwise unneeded. They also introduce a brother of Tolkien that plays absolutely no role in the film. He shows up like three times and is a waste of screentime three times.
The other big issue I had was the dialogue in the film. There is a lot of really clunky and cheesy lines that made my eyes roll. The prime example is when our lead character stands up in class to proclaim "It's pronounced 'Tol-KEEN'" which of course was delivered extremely poorly and led to characters to continue to just pronounce it Tol-KEN, serving absolute no purpose other than to go "hehe you plebs pronounce his name wrong."
The performances were for the most part pretty good. They had to deal with a lot of bad lines, but most of the adult actors managed to do a proper enough performance that didn't leave me angry. Lily Collins and Nicholas Hoult were definitely the stand out performances of the film however, and they seemed to really try to give it their all.
Even through all the clunky and sometimes annoying dialogue, there is something really enchanting on watching a Tolkien biopic. The scene where he sits down and writes the opening lines to The Hobbit in magnificent handwriting makes the entire film worth it, even if the scene was artificially manufactured just to pull on your heartstrings.