Ever since my third year in University, I have been a fanatical lover of Beowulf. The seventh-century poem has a great hero, an enthralling story, and a group of monsters (Grendel, his mother, and the Dragon) that is still capable of terrifying. While I have seen more than one adaptation of the poem (The 13th Warrior is right now by far the best), this is easily the version that is truest to the subject matter.
This version concentrates on the monster fights, excluding the background stories that are sprinkled throughout the poem; not a surprising move by the scriptwriter, as the many asides would end up scattering the narrative. The story is told simply and quickly, with the characters well represented.
Unfortunately, where the poem had an earthly thrill to it, this film descends into an artfulness that completely destroys the mood. Much of the action is so artistic that it becomes incomprehensible (for example, rather than grappling with Grendel's arm, Beowulf somehow ends up travelling up it), and the animation, rather than being crisp and clean, is rather crude and sketchy. With the surreal feel to the film, anybody who has not nearly memorized the poem in advance is in danger of finding themselves either lost or bored out of their skull.
Final mark: 2.5/5. The story was right, but the spirit of the poem was completely lost in the translation. Sigh...perhaps the next film version of the poem will get it right...
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