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ROGER THOMAS FILM REVIEW: ‘Tolkien’ — a film about an author who touched many lives

I wish I could remember when I first begin reading the works of Tolkien. I believe it was in middle school, or junior high school is what we called it in those days.

However, I am not sure about when I started reading the books. I also am not sure when I finished the collection of Middle Earth books. I think it took me at least a decade before I had read them all.

Roger Thomas

In my high school years I got charmed and frightened by the works of Stephen King and dropped Tolkien for a while. I did get back to “Middle Earth” in college. It seemed everyone was reading Tolkien then. I guess I followed the pack.

Then the Tolkien books became big-time blockbuster films in the early years of 2000.

In 2001 the first film hit the big screen: “The Fellowship of the Ring.” In the following year came “The Two Towers.” Then the third film, “The Return of King,” triumphed with a lot of Oscars, including “Best Picture.”

Once again, a lot of people were talking about J.R.R.Tolkien and his amazing stories.

Before we get to the present, we should remember that after the success of “Lord of the Rings” film series, there were three more movies in a bloated series of films based on Tolkien’s singular book, “The Hobbit.”

“The Hobbit” is a must for any fan and it does have many “wow” moments.

Now we have something new for the cinema. A story about the man who created this wonderful world.

Who was he?

Who were his friends?

What did he do as he was growing up?

Did he have friends?

And what did they think of his stories?

Good questions, and the new film, “Tolkien,” strives to answer some of those questions.

It would be wonderful if we could ask Tolkien for ourselves, but we are a little late. However, if the film “Tolkien” is in any way authentic, then maybe the audience will get at least a glimpse.

One of the strengths of the film I noticed immediately was that as the characters aged and were replaced with other actors, all the boys looked like the previous actor in that role. I applaud the casting crew. So often when several people play one role, there is not any attempt for matching one actor to another.

I also enjoyed the dialogue in the film. The group of boys that are the center of the film have conversations of all types, but whether light or dark, kind or angry, the boys in “Tolkien” hold a friendship bond that carries them onward.

I also found the war scenes in the film to be haunting. Tolkien’s life was certainly challenging at certain points, according to the film.

The most recognizable actors in the film are Nicholas Hoult and Colm Meany. Hoult plays the lead, of course, as J. R. R. Tolkien. Not knowing Tolkien, I am not sure if the portrayal is accurate, but Holt’s performance is a fine lead.

I have to admit, “Tolkien” is not my favorite film of the year, not even close.

However, I applaud the things they got right.

I was once a boy and there was enough in this film that reminded me of those times four decades ago.

Oh, the adventure of youth.

One final thought, if I ever see a copy of “Tolkien” in a bargain basket, I think I would reread the package, and I would take it to the cash register because there is enough here to jar memories in my mind and I am sure there is enough that I missed.

Besides, the film “Tolkien” would look great on the shelf beside the DVDs of the three films of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.