Stop dismissing the Tolkien biopic

My review of the J.R.R. Tolkien biopic, Tolkien, is in progress. There has been a lot of great discussion about it across various forums, and I hope I won’t be too late to engage some of my readers in discussion about it here. However, I’ve noticed a trend of responses among some Tolkien fans that disturbs me: that of smug dismissal.

A Feanorian response if there ever was one; finding a perceived flaw in something, whether by experience or hearsay, real or imagined, and dismissing the entire thing out of hand without careful, gracious consideration. We must take pains to avoid this. And yet I see this happening with Tolkien fans in regards to the movie Tolkien. They see a review or hear a comment about it that says something they don’t like, and they decide they can safely dismiss or even condemn the movie without even seeing it themselves.

Please don’t do this. It is an intellectually dishonest attitude. It also does a tremendous disservice to a film that many people came together to make, out of a sincere love for J.R.R. Tolkien and a desire to convey to the world just what is beautiful and wise about his life story.

So don’t dismiss the movie, no matter what you have heard. Regardless of whether the movie is good or bad, it deserves not to be ignored. If you are a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, then it is absolutely worth your time to see the movie Tolkien and discuss it in some depth with others.

And I hope you will find my forthcoming review/discussion worthwhile! Meanwhile, you can find other excellent discussions of the Tolkien film in these places:
“My Defiant Appreciation of the Biopic Tolkien” by Brenton Dickieson (a longtime blogger who once participated in my Hobbit Read-Along)
Dr. Corey Olsen’s Movie Discussion: Tolkien
Movie Review: Tolkien (2019) by Pages Unbound
“Tolkien” Film: How Christian Reviewers are Getting it Wrong” by Father Andrew Stephen Damick


  1. Krysta says:

    I agree! I wasn’t totally a fan of the film (as you know!), but I am glad I saw it. I think it’s worth a watch at least once, even if hesitant fans decide perhaps to wait for it to come out on DVD instead of going to the theatre. I look forward to your review!

    1. David says:

      You had a good discussion and I’m glad you saw and reviewed the film. You definitely did not dismiss it offhand! I was actually planning to link your review to the end of this post, but ran out of time as I had to rush to an appointment. I’m about to update it though!

      1. Krysta says:

        I’m actually sorry it didn’t seem to be doing well. I didn’t check the numbers, but I went the day after opening night and two people were in the theatre when I walked in! I think we eventually made it up to 10 people. And I’ve asked several people if they plan to see it, some of them Tolkien fans, and there was just no interest. One said she’d seen mixed reviews, so she seemed to be thinking it wasn’t worth it based on that.

        Mixed reviews are difficult, though. Often I won’t read a book based on mixed reviews. However, sometimes, when I do, I find that I actually really enjoyed it. I try to decide based on what I would do if I hadn’t read the reviews, or choose based on a reviewer whose tastes align closely with mine. But…it does seem like you just never know unless you try for yourself.

        1. David says:

          I do pay attention to reviews, but I try to note why people are adopting a certain opinion rather than just what their opinion is. A major reason I loved reading Roger Ebert’s movie reviews was because regardless of whether he liked a film, he could still give me a decent idea of whether or not I would like it. Sometimes I’d read a negative review he wrote and think “You know, I’d probably like this movie for the same reasons he doesn’t like it.” And that’s helpful! It’s not helpful when a reviewer just gives their opinions without trying to objectively describe what the film really is or is trying to do. Because you’re right, you can never really know unless you try it out for yourself. Doing some research beforehand or listening to people whose tastes and values align with your own can be helpful in deciding where to spend your time and money, but it’s good sometimes to take a chance on an unlikely story, because you just might surprise everyone (and yourself!) by your real reaction.

          1. Krysta says:

            That’s a good point. A good review gives reasons for the writer liking/not liking aspects of the work. And I can often tell that something a reader didn’t like may be something I would enjoy or that wouldn’t bother me.

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