Best attempts to translate a classic fantasy from page to the big screen can be fraught with fiery danger. But attempting to render the author’s own story is even riskier. Producers’ most ingenious endeavors can “stand on the edge of a knife.”

Across previous months, we have joined the ranks of Tolkien fans and scholars round the globe in great anticipation and trepidation. Fortunately, the TOLKIEN movie does not disappoint, at least not entirely. Be warned. The film conveys raw realism in the sights and sounds, the bravery and the bloodbath of The Great War. This TOLKIEN film is not for the faint of heart, and so it reveals why in the years to come, Tolkien’s adventures and quests call forth for greater courage. There are bold choices to be made. Tolkien’s heart-and-soul character themes of valor over fear, good over evil, generosity over greed, and light over darkness all had their seeds in the ugly trenches of WWI as well as the scholarly halls and lush green fields of his early years. The film captures such backstory in remarkable ways.

Upon our early screening, we see a bucket of quite beautiful features but also two shadowy pitfalls.

The oh-so-beautiful and captivating

First, the film’s overall rendering is gorgeous and artsy in nature and texture. On this point, let’s be clear. The TOLKIEN biopic was not crafted for quick consumption by casual fandom. No cheap thrills or eye candy here. Viewers are forced to think and feel on deeper levels. This is truly tremendous! The new film delivers an emotionally stirring, poignant backstory to the beloved Professor’s developmental years. On so many levels, the film successfully portrays a brilliant interplay of sights, sounds, themes, and personages. This big screen story masterfully spotlights the vital influences and influencers that made Tolkien such a virtuoso of story for the rest of his life.

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