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 Danish King Hrothgar (Sir Anthony Hopkins). He offers rewards for the death of Grendel (Crispin Glover), so Beowulf (Ray Winstone), 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 (Angelina Jolie), 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
Screenwriters Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary met after Avary became the writer for a proposed movie adaptation of Gaiman's acclaimed "Sandman" graphic novel. Gaiman loved his script, but the studio found it "too weird" and had Avary replaced with Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. Finding their sensibilities very compatible, the pair went in 1997 on a vacation to Baja, Mexico where they sequestered themselves in their hotel room and didn't leave until they had something. That something ended up being Beowulf's first draft. See more »
Grendel and his mother speak Old English. Even though it is the language of the original Beowulf poem, it is not the language spoken in the time and area where the action takes place. (East Old Norse is more probable.) However, it is "substituting" for Old Norse, just as modern English is "substituting" for the Danes' language. See more »
Not as bad as some are saying, Not as good as you hoped
Given the power of the cast and the budget, you perhaps hope for a movie which is stunningly entertaining and in some way expands your consciousness, if only for a brief 90 minutes or so. Unfortunately you get neither, just an action movie with a rather twisted and unhistorical plot. The acting does not shine through the CGI very well. Maybe it's because I am in my 50s and did not grow up with CGI, but I keep feeling like I am watching a cartoon, which is to say the least distracting.
I can certainly understand that in such spectacles as the monster fight, CGI offers at least an approximation of realism. But in scenes where human interaction predominates, CGI falls far short of communicating human expression and emotion and leaves me cold.
There is a lot of discussion of the historical "accuracy" of this movie. I did a little research, and it seems that there are major gaps in the major historical document (literally, much is missing or has crumbled away), and how it should be interpreted. Given this, it seems peculiar to pan the latest rendition of a reality that causes great controversy, even among academics. I do agree that Beowulf is portrayed in a very unflattering and unfavorable light by the movie.
In the obvious comparison CGI movie, the 300, the producers emphasized the myth. In Beowulf, they denigrated it. Neither, by itself, is reason to reject the movie itself. But 300 sold itself as a CGI production, and exceeded expectations. Beowulf sold itself as an exceptional human drama and fell flat on its face, saved but hardly exalted by its action scenes.
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