Here on Shuggie Says we adored The Lord of the Rings, both the films and the books, so when I heard there was going to be a biopic about the book’s author, J. R. R. Tolkien I could not help but be excited.

Following Tolkien’s life from childhood up until he began to write The Hobbit, including through the First World War the main focus of Tolkien is on his friendship with three other boys from his schools, who dubbed themselves the Tea Club and Barrovian Society (T.C.B.S.), as well as his relationship with his future wife Edith Bratt. There is nothing groundbreaking about this tale, and as a story of fellowship Tolkien is a nice time at the cinema.

The narrative framing of Tolkien in the trenches thinking back on his friendships from his youth is probably the once aspect the really didn’t feel as though it works, especially compared to the linear storytelling of the rest of the film employs that does a far better job of walking us through Tolkien’s life and the many experiences that inspired him in the writing of the Middle Earth books.

And the man charged with bring J. R. R. to life is Nicholas Hoult. Unsurprising to those who have followed his career Hoult is very good in lead role. He’s got a lot of charm, and his chemistry with Lily Collins and the other three actors playing his childhood friends, Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, and Tom Glynn-Carney, is excellent, and all the supporting performances are very solid.

But that is really what sums up the rest of Tolkien as a film, solid. It is very competently made, but lacks anything to really make it stand out, other than knowing the incredible work that Tolkien created. If you’re a fan of his Middle Earth books then Tolkien is certainly worth watching to find out more about the creation of these literary masterpieces, but apart from that it rarely rises to more than a pleasant watch.