Set against the coming of Christianity, this is the story of the last hero: in 507, a monstrous troll wreaks havoc in the mead hall of the Danish king, Hrothgar. He offers rewards for the death of Grendel, so Beowulf, a great and boastful Geat warrior, arrives with his thanes. Beowulf sets aside his armor and awaits the monster; a fierce battle ensues that leads to Beowolf's entering the watery lair of Grendel's mother, where a devil's bargain awaits. Beowulf returns to Herot, the castle, and becomes king. Jump ahead many years, and the sins of the father are visited upon Beowulf and his kingdom. The hero must face his weakness and be heroic once again. Is the age of demons over? Written by
Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman's original plan was for Avary to direct on a modest budget. He had story-boarded several scenes and had a few European shooting locations scouted. His intended style would have been heavily influenced by Roman Polanski's Macbeth (1971) and Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky (1977). However, studios were unable to see the potential with his intended vision, so he ended up selling the project to Zemeckis. See more »
Convex mirrors present a smaller reflection than a flat surface, but when the old Beowulf tells the queen he must fight, there is a well polished shield hanging on the wall reflecting as a flat surface, although it is slightly curved. See more »
Glorious 3D treat requiring little brain engagement
This movie is a lot of fun. In 3D. I suspect its impact will be considerably diminished in 2D, so I urge anyone who wants to see it to seek out the 3D version. There are lots of beautifully constructed tracking shots where the camera glides and swirls forward, back up and down, and trees, rocks, arrows, dragons or whatever slip past the edges of the frame, and this effect is stunning in 3D. In fact, all the action scenes are stunning in 3D, particularly the climactic battle with a top-notch, fire belching monster of a dragon.
The plot isn't much to write home about (although there's just a hint of a theological debate about the way Christianity has displaced the old mythic religions, which made me think for about 5 seconds). The acting is variable - Robin Wright-Penn is fine, but about as sexy as a paper cup, Hopkins is his usual reliable self, Ray Winstone is suitably heroic as the heroic, self-aggrandising Beowulf, and Crispin Glover is just brilliant as Grendel. Grendel is a lovely creation, oozing slime and blood, and wracked with pain.
But who cares about all that. This is not a scholarly work, it's entertainment. And my wife and I were as royally entertained as the kids surrounding us in the cinema (and we're both 40-somethings). Leave your serious head (and any timid youngsters) at home, and go and have fun.
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