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Better than I expected
lexo177019 March 2008
I didn't expect a lot from 'Beowulf', for lots of reasons, most of which were to do with the casting: incorrigibly cockney Ray Winstone as a warrior from what's now southern Sweden; wacky John Malkovich as a cynical counselor; loony Crispin Glover as a flesh-rending monster, and weirdest of all, Angelina Jolie as the monster's mother...thaet waes wundorlic castyng, as the poet might have put it. Then there was the way they did the whole thing in CGI, running the risk of making it all look a bit rubbery. Finally, Robert Zemeckis is the director and my great respect for him plummeted through the floor and into the crawlspace after he presided over the insufferable 'Forrest Gump'.

Nevertheless, this is a lot better than I thought it would be. I missed the 3D incarnation as we were watching the DVD rather than the cinema release, but after a while you stop looking at the CGI and start enjoying it. This is a 'Beowulf' where the story, although different from the poem, is actually very far from shabby.

Without giving too much away, the main difference from the poem is that in the poem, there is no connection between the monster Grendel and his mother on one hand, and the dragon in the latter half of the poem on the other hand. In the film, a connection exists. Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary do a professional job of tying it all together in a satisfying Hollywood way, without betraying the basic darkness and sadness of the story; it's not like Beowulf rides off into the sunset with Wiglaf at the end. Crispin Glover is genuinely scary as the tormented and raw-boned Grendel, whose main problem is that he just can't stand the sound of people having fun, although since most of this fun consists of hairy men singing lewd songs you can see his point. Angelina Jolie's animated self spends all her on screen time walking around without any clothes on, something that apparently gave Jolie a blush when she saw a cut of the movie. (One of the more eerie things about this film is that the cartoon Angelina Jolie looks marginally more realistic than the actress herself.)

Despite an accent that's more Stockwell than Geatland, Ray Winstone does a fine, sombre job as the hero, although my wife thought that the animated Winstone looked more like Sean Bean. Brendan Gleeson does a splendid job in the niche he's carved for himself of Hairy Sidekick. The acting honours, or at least the animation honours, go to Robin Wright Penn (or whoever worked on her character) as the pale and melancholy queen; she has moments of subtle hesitation and sadness that struck me as a triumph of CGI acting.

There is much excellent smiting, some of it unfortunately toned down a little in order to keep a PG-13 rating - so we don't actually get to see Grendel biting men's heads off, just people's reactions to him doing so. Most importantly, the story is not a travesty of the original. It's thoughtful and interesting, as you'd expect from a writer of Gaiman's quality (if not from the author of 'Killing Zoe') and contains some striking meditations on the power of legend and reputation. Plus, there's a really huge kick-ass dragon. 'Beowulf' is a strange and unexpected treat.
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Surprisingly Good - A 3D Treat
cdemw17 November 2007
When going into the theatre to see this I in two minds - it was my first 3D movie and I had heard good things, however I wasn't particularly taken by the concept or the trailers. I was unsure what to expect, however I ended up leaving the cinema extremely satisfied with the film, and tellingly, unable to stop discussing it long after the ride home.

Visually it is an absolute treat, Zemeckis uses 3D superbly, some of the camera angles and sequences are as great an art as the photo-realistic animation. Occasionally the odd shot appears where the impression is that it was set up solely to emphasise the 3D (e.g. starting at the end of a branch and panning out) and whilst this doesn't add to the film it is actually a pleasant reminder of the novelty of 3D.

There are only two areas that let Beowulf down aesthetically: the eyes and the mouth. The eyes were static throughout and it is the little details that make the difference when trying to make something as uber-realistic as this, such as the fact that the pupils didn't react to light. As for the lips - they're just not quite there yet - sometimes the speech didn't seem to be quite right.

The characters are expertly introduced and developed, most notably Anthony Hopkins character, Hrothgar and the tension between his wife. Grendell and his mother are wonderfully creepy and seductive, and bizarrely enough almost encourage sympathy.

For me the most disappointing part of the film was actually Ray Winstone as the titular character - he was fantastic when talking in a low growl, however the film really suffers when he shouts in full cockney accent. "I will kill your monstah!". I half expected Grendell's head to be smashed between a car and it's door. John Malkovitch is a saving grace with his none-more-sinister voice and interesting faith sub-plot.

The rating for this film has been hotly discussed and in my opinion I do not think it is suitable for children under the age of 12. Grendell would have truly terrified me as a child. The violence, as well as bawdiness, does not make it a family film for young children although having said that the lewd references do provide good humour and balances out the movie.

So, overall, this was worthy of an 8. Breathtaking animation, incredible action (especially the finale featuring an excellent dragon) and a generally brilliant cast. Beowulf throws down the gauntlet to film-makers to show what can be done with 3D and is an indication of the potential. It's not all the way there yet, but it's a damn good start.
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Missed chance, this is not the poem.
earderne23 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This film has impressive special effects and would be okay as an adventure fantasy but it should not be marketed as the epic poem.Also it has been given the wrong rating and should be an R. Why all the changes? Grendel's mother was not a gold painted,nude,Barbie doll in stiletto heels.Grendel was not Hrothgar's son. Beowulf killed the witch he did not have sex with her.The dragon was not Beowulf's son and had no connection with the witch.Beowulf was not made Hrothgar's heir,nor did he marry his widow and become king of the Danes.In the poem Beowulf returned to Geatland after slaying Grendel. He remained the Geat king's best warrior,supporting him and the son who succeeded him. Only after the new king died did Beowulf become king of the Geats until his own death in later years.Also, why all the nudity in this film? This was Scandinavian northern Europe in the Dark Ages - folk would have Bean in furs and heavy woollens most of the time.The cartoon-like actors didn't help either with bland faces and expressionless eyes.

A far better movie 'Beowulf and Grendel' was made in 2004,filmed on location in Iceland,with an excellent cast of real actors and no CGI. The Iceland born Canadian director,Sturla Gunnarson,tried to get back to what could have been the original story that evolved over the centuries into the legend.It was gritty,made on a shoestring and had only limited cinema release,but thankfully it is available on DVD and is well worth a look.There is also an excellent companion DVD documentary called 'Wrath of Gods'which tells the incredible story of the filming of the movie, and the struggle to complete it with financial problems and the absolute hell of shooting it at the start of the Icelandic winter.

The new 'Beowulf' has also tried to ride on the coattails of '300', but again it suffers by not having real actors showing their courage and emotions.'300' scenes were like paintings come to life and the Spartans' impressive physiques and fighting skills were real,after hard training,with no computer enhancement.

An interesting point is the actor who links these three films - charismatic Gerard Butler.He was fiery yet also sensitive as King Leonidas and the earlier Beowulf and made the roles his own.

This 2007 film is a missed opportunity to bring the epic poem to life.
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Glorious 3D treat requiring little brain engagement
KenLiversausage18 November 2007
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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To CGI or Not to CGI, that is the question?
Astralan21 November 2007
I have read Beowulf a couple of times. It's great northern European mythology, and mandatory reading when you are young in my opinion (Along with Norse, Greek and Roman Mythology as well). And though the movie wants to re-write some of the epic, you will need to separate the Hollywood version from the beautiful measure of the original works. Being a work of CGI, you will also have to allow for the flaws of pure CGI work. Very stylized and beautifully colored, it is an epic adventure that elevated Zemeckis' previous work "The Polar Express" to a new level. Polar was beautifully modeled after Chris Van Allsburg illustrations for his book, but Zemeckis' adaptation to the story went a little over the top when it became a musical. Even though most of Beowulf's story line is answered here, it did make me pause and wonder:

Why didn't Robert Zemeckis just direct this thing in real life instead of virtual?

With the capabilities of dropping in CGI into real life action, this telling of the story could have had so much more of an impact if the expressions were more poignant. Look what he did with "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"? Zemeckis is fully capable of it. Also, to add to this, when you have CGI characters like Jacksons Gollum and King Kong to compare notes with, the modeling here just isn't up to snuff. I felt the entire movie came off like a gigantic "cut-scene" to a video game than a full featured animated project. I can only give this a little better than a good, hence the exclamation. I do this sadly. You really should see this in a theater, bigger than life. The dragon is excellent, the ugly v/s the beautiful is wild, the sequencing is uneven, though at the end it takes you on a great ride. Oh, and for you people that want to go see Angela Jolie nekkid? IT'S CGI!!! I've seen harder stuff on Fox networks! Seeing my wife and I saw this as a matinée, the crowd was on the sparse side and there was literally no kids present. I couldn't get a solid feeling from the audience though most people as they left seemed genuinely happy with their experience. I'm sure it was PG13'd because of the sequences with Angela, otherwise it would be a solid PG. I wouldn't suggest this for a kid under 8.
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This is a cinema experience for sure!
wesleythomaswilliams12 November 2007
Just this minute got back from seeing a free preview of Beowulf and OH MY GOD! This is a cracking film and I highly recommend everyone goes to the cinema to see it (it's a cinema experience for sure!). Not only that, but it's 3D (which I wasn't aware of) or rather the all new 3D (no more red/green glasses). Everyone in the audience was given what looked like cheap-ass shades, but they did the job wonderfully and fitted snugly over my regular specs.

As for the movie, the plot was tight and well scripted, the voice acting was great (Ray Winstone rocks), the action was breathtaking, some of the CGI was unbelievably gorgeous and the music and incidental sound was great! The only downside for me was some of the CGI. It seemed apparent that given an unlimited budget, this movie would have looked phenomenal in every scene, but unfortunately the budget wasn't unlimited and it shows in a number of places. Nothing looks horrible, but you can tell that they had to pick and choose where to go for high detail. The movie also suffers from the age old, it's creepy because it's almost perfect.

As for the 3D, apart from an awesome intro, nothing seems to be done just to exploit 3D, it's all very natural and adds an amazing level of detail to the movie. The depth of vision you get is truly breathtaking in parts.

Quite honestly I wasn't expecting much from this movie having seen the trailer, but I was blown away. I've not been this excited leaving the cinema in a long long time!
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Fun, handsome, but spoilt by 3D
mikerichards13 November 2007
Pretty much everyone knows the story of Beowulf - man fights monster, monster's mum and then a dragon - but this ancient story has inspired generations of writers and academics, now it gets a shiny makeover courtesy of Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary.

Beowulf (the man) could have been written as a cookie-cutter hero, but fortunately he's something else - fallible and not yet the hero he must become later in the movie. But (and this is really hard without spoiling the movie), the battle that turns him into a hero also leads inexorably to his undoing. That's something the two writers have brought to the millennia old text and it works perfectly to help fill in some of the gaps in the original poem and provide a back story to events.

A special mention also to Crispin Glover's Grendel. I wasn't particularly struck with the physical realisation of the monster, but the performance is knock out. Instead of just being a rampaging beast, Grendel is almost something to be pitied - a misshapen outcast with noisy neighbours, and his final scene is remarkably touching. Oh and if you don't understand Grendel, you clearly haven't been keeping up with your Old English classes!

But let's be honest, everyone watches a movie about Vikings for the action. And Beowulf delivers this in spades. Here comes my first proviso - Beowulf in the UK is getting a 12A rating, but there is no way I would take a 12 year old to see this film in all its eye-ball spearing, spine-snapping, ligament-tearing glory. This movie would get a higher rating had it been shot in real-life and it's worth considering this before packing the kids into the car. Mostly the violence is justified, but it is there and it's NOT cartoony.

The animation is the talking point of this movie, and its a real step on from the zombified performance of 'Polar Express'. The impression of living, breathing flesh is almost complete with the exception of strangely dead eyes - this movie is a landmark in computer imagery. The majority of the characters are stunningly rendered (Beowulf in particular) in close up, but they somehow look less convincing at a distance. Generally the men are better done than the women, with Queen Wealthow the spitting image of Julie Andrew's queen in Shrek 2.

So, its a violent special effects triumph - could anything be wrong?

Actually yes.

Two things. One - the accents. Oh dear god in heaven above what were they thinking - this is a treasure house of appalling voices, Irish(ish), Scottish(ish), Welsh(ish) are all thrown into the mix, but the standout horrors are Jon Malkovich's take on Danish which might have been inspired by the Muppets and Angelina Jolie dusting off her accent from 'Alexander'.

The second is the 3D projection. For reasons best known to studio executives we're all meant to get very excited by 3D all over again. Beowulf is one of the first movies to be released in the UK using REALD - a system familiar to anyone who has been to a Disney park in the last 20 years. The animators of Beowulf clearly had great fun working out new ways of making things jump out of the screen at the audience, but the effect becomes slightly wearisome after a minute or two. Fortunately things settle down later in the movie and the makers stop trying to show off their new technology.

More disappointing, the poor quality of the Polaroid glasses you have to wear make the image slightly blurry and spoilt by reflections. After years waiting for the crystal clarity of digital projection, the whole thing has been undone by a gimmick. If you have a choice, you might be better off seeing a regular 2D version.

A final comment, Beowulf spends part of the movie naked, bet you can't watch it and not think of Austin Powers.
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A total perversion of the character of Beowulf
chris-modd2 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
For over 1000 years Beowulf the epic has described Beowulf as a mighty hero who killed Grendel AND Grendel's mother. He became a mighty King in his own right after protecting the existing incumbent and his son. At the end of a life of courage and honesty he sets out to fight one last battle, KNOWING he may be going to his death but willing to protect his people for one last time. During the final battle with the Fire spewing serpent, Beowulf was losing, but one of his companions remembered his duty and where others deserted Beowulf, Wiglaf returned to stand by his dying lord, shielding him and dealing a stroke that abated the Serpent's fire, enabling Beowulf to deal the death stroke to the serpent with his battle knife. Finally after the death of the serpent, and the subsequent death of his dear lord from his wounds, Wiglaf berates the cowards who deserted their lord and made them feel their shame.

A short synopsis of the Epic of Beowulf.

What Beowulf is presented in this movie?

A pervert who sleeps with a Demon, holds his lands at her behest, abhors his life and spawns a mutant.

Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong, so wrong it is not remotely funny.

The main thing that bothers me is that those who see the film will think it is in any way accurate (even in the fight against Grendel Epic Beowulf stated he scorns to carry sword or shield he does mention his shirt of mail!) and a tale of unblemished heroism that has lasted fire and reformation over 10 centuries gets buried by a below average CGI flick with a bigger advertising budget.
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A mildly amusing mix of "Shrek", "300" and computer-games
Tinuvielas13 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Take a thousand year old heroic subject matter, spice it up with a dose of „modern" morals such as „men's only weakness is women" , add a few females according to type – e.g. saints and whores – and shoot this script as a CGI-mix of „Shrek", „300" and popular computer-games: The result is Robert Zemecki's version of „Beowulf". Works alright, the flick, as long as you don't take it seriously. However, whenever the „Shrek"-Elements dominate the scene, the film runs into problems. Queen Wealtheow for instance fatally resembles the green Oger's mom. Besides, almost all Characters have a squint that would make Christopher Lambert at his best look good. Wet hair is still a problem of computer-graphics, too. Otherwise, the film is technically well made and gives you an idea how far Ralph Bakshi might have gone with his concept of graphically alienated live-action.

Still, over long stretches the motion-capture-technique is too reminiscent of computer-games to be convincing, and thus one is left with the question which audience this film is aimed at. Gaming kiddies can't watch it because all the ripping and tearing is far too bloody; adult Lord-of-the-Rings-fans will miss the depth of the original poem, despite some nice touches in the script – such as King Hrothgar talking of „Scops" or giving out rings to his thanes in the initial sequence, or Grendel and his mother seeming to talk Anglo-Saxonish. The linguistic climax of the movie is elsewhere, anyway: King Hrothgar, embodied (well, sort of) by Anthony Hopkins, telling his followers that Beowulf „killed the monster and laid his mother... in her grave". How do you translate that for synchronized versions? This sequence gets to the heart of the difference of plot between the script and the heroic poem, i.e. the introduction of the eternal female temptation as motif for the hero's curse. Not a bad idea, really, especially in view of the traditional sword-penis-symbolism that is being exploited thoroughly in this film. Unfortunately, the way they put the idea on screen is cheesy to say the least. Thus Angelina Jolie's computerized curves seem designed to lure the average movie-goer, male, mid-twenties, meager intellect (is that according to statistics?). The hero Beowulf (one can't speak of actors or characters in this film) is modeled on the Gladiator but lacks his character; the monster is a crossbreed of Ent and skinned Gollum; the jokes are laconic (example: "How is your father? – Dead."). Amusing – and once in a while appealing in a darkly beautiful manner, especially when a whiff of northern Epic or landscape transcends the CGI. In these moments one gets an inkling of what might have been done with this script. Even the final fight with the dragon is impressive. But why does the dragon have a heart, small as a cow's? Why does the coast-guard sit in front of his fire in the pouring rain? And why does the final, unbearably long shot have to be so unbearably kitsch? Shame, really. You can either have grim realism, or you can have exaggerated, bad-taste fantasy. Try to amalgamate both, and the thing falls apart.
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Chasing the Dragon
WriterDave18 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
*The following is a review of the digital 3D version showing at select theaters:

Robert Zemeckis has always been a trailblazer with film technology. He was among the first to utilize CGI in "Death Becomes Her" and with his adaptation of the oldest surviving epic poem in the English language, he perfects the life-like digital computer animation he first experimented with in "The Polar Express". Like his canon of films over the years, "Beowulf" is an eye-popping mixed bag of cinematic tricks.

The animation has come to a point where it is eerily life-like. In "Beowulf" every blade of grass, every tree branch, and every strand of hair has been painstakingly detailed. And while it is hard to tell the difference between the digital Angelina Jolie and the real Angelina Jolie, there's still something about the human face, the nuances of the muscular features, the emotion running beneath, that this technology will never capture. It still depicts hollow, cold clones of real human beings that could never fully replace 3D flesh and blood.

What makes "Beowulf" so entertaining is the digital 3D technology. It creates some breathtaking vistas where you feel as if the landscapes are moving through you. In some of the more horrific scenes with Grendel, you'll find yourself jumping out of your skin. Zemeckis is like a magician with this technology. He's able to bleed something out of nothing by knowing how to get the reactions he wants from his audience with just the right sound effect, camera angle, and quick-cut to complete his trick. It's often ugly, but quite breathtaking.

Zemeckis loses some ground when he relies too much on juvenile machismo grandstanding to further character development. Sure, I love a good death by chandelier scene or a man getting ripped in half by a monster bit as much as the next guy, but all the bawdy humor wears thin. Even lamer was the scene where Beowulf fights Grendel in the buff, which contained almost as many laugh inducing sight gags as the scene where Bart skateboarded nude through Springfield in this summer's "The Simpsons Movie."

The mixed bag of tricks and sometimes slow build-up, however, eventually lead to a totally thrilling finale where Beowulf does battle with the dragon his misdeeds begot. In 3D, it's nerve-shattering fun. As an action adventure film, it makes the mark.

Ultimately you realize why this story has survived over 1200 years. "Beowulf" makes legendary the idea of a hero's fallibility and the global consequences of the sins of the father. These are universal themes that have been sung again and again in everything from Shakespeare to this year's best film, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." While the technology used to make this film may seem dated in a few years, the story will live on, and this just may be the definitive "Beowulf" for high school English teachers to use in their lame attempts to connect with their students. The savvier kids won't be fooled, but there's worse ways to pass the time in class.
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Does anybody read REAL literature anymore?
anniecat5025 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I was excited that now, with CGI, a great epic tale like Beowulf might be successfully made into a movie. I will keep waiting for a responsible screenwriter and director to try this again. First of all, I thought there would be more live action/acting. Since this had such a lovely cast list, I assumed they would really act. The stilted phrasing and wall to wall sexual innuendos made this one of the worst scripts I have encountered and brought to the screen. Beowulf, the great epic is full of magnificent epic poem, richly enhanced with kennings and alliteration that bring power and dignity to all of the characters. There was no dignity here. Instead, Beowulf was enveloped in shame (and given this script it was, unintentionally, the only thing they got right.) Please people,READ THE BOOK! The only thing this movie had in common with Beowulf were the names of the characters. Say no to bastard children, naked mommies of monsters, and lips that do not match up with the dialog. The only thing I got out of this was true/false test material for my British Literature students who think they can get away with watching the movie instead of reading our text.
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I AM (slightly let down by) BEOWULF!!!
MovieDude189314 November 2007
It seems we have a new cinematic fad coming into fashion... the genre of mythological action. It began with '300' (a film I really enjoyed), and the first that stands to benefit from 300's success is Beowulf. Beowulf is the newest film from Robert Zemeckis. Zemeckis implements many of the same visual themes of his last project, the heart warming Polar Express, with varied success.

Beowulf tells the story of the kingdom of King Hrothgar (a delightfully campy Anthony Hopkins)which is currently being terrorized by a monster named Grendel (Crispin Glover). Help comes in the form of mighty Beowulf (Ray Winstone), who arrives with an army of 14 men and his right hand man, Wiglaf (Brendan Gleeson). It his his job to slay the monster. However, he must also deal with Grendel's mother (Angelina Jolie). Beowulf is opposed by Unferth (John Malkovich), and has also been paying close attention to the king's wife, Wealthow (Robin Wright Penn).

Perhaps the most surprising element of the film is its sly, wink and a nod, sense of humor. This can be viewed two ways. The first view is one of enjoyment and laughter. However, it is hard to comply when we are asked to feel or identify with these characters after so many scenes presenting them as mere caricatures.

As expected, Beowulf is visually stunning. I'd argue it is the one category where this film bests 'Polar Express'. The 3-D photography is shockingly good. It is a film I wouldn't want to imagine in the traditional two dimension format. I strongly advise anyone who is going to see this to view the film in 3-D. Without it, the film would be borderline un enjoyable. The highlight is by far the final battle scene,which just begs you to forget the film's past misdeeds. Close, but no dice.
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A travesty of a sham of a parody of a disgrace
macross_sd24 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Short answer: If you love the old Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, do not see this movie. You will be nauseated.

Longer answer: In the Dungeons and Dragons community, there is an old joke that the characters "kill things and take their stuff." Well, Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary managed to kill Beowulf and take his stuff. Then they proceeded to kill Hrothgar, the helm of the Shieldings and take his stuff. Then they killed Grendel and took its stuff. Then, they killed Wealtheow and took her stuff. And so on, and so forth. These two imbeciles with Underwoods (an orangutan could have come up with a more sensitive treatment of one of the seminal pieces of English literature!) completely changed the tone of the poem from a serious heroic epic to just another post-modern round of "no more heroes" buffoonery.

The literary atrocities of Messers Gaiman and Avary upon the source material are as follows: 1. The poem has been dechristianized: On the one hand, it does take out a glaring anachronism (the action of the poem takes place during the Migration Period of the AD 400s-500s, when they would still be following the traditions of the Aesir religion, but the poem was written down in a very Christianized context in England, and the anachronism does add a richness to the language) The only sop to the underpinnings of the source material come in a discussion between two urinating Danes over the relative merits of Christianity and Aesir-worship, and later when Unferth suggests praying to Christ as well as Odin, a suggestion that Hrothgar rejects out of hand (perhaps a reference to the opposite situation in the poem, where the Danes throw off Christianity for a time, hoping that the old gods will smite Grendel where the Christian ones had apparently failed).

2. It is implied very heavily that Beowulf was a liar and braggart in his earlier exploits, including the race with Breca: As with many of the other changes, it seems to be part of a deliberate campaign by Gaiman and Avary to strip away the heroic nature of the source material, turning Beowulf into just another trendy 21st-century flawed anti-hero.

3. The characters often speak with a much more modern speech pattern (see, for instance, Unferth's first confrontation with Beowulf, where he comes off as much more smarmy than in the poem) that is jarring to the ear and that often seems to lead, yet again, into Gaiman and Avary's unspoken goal of de-heroizing, de-mythologizing, and de-bunking the poem.

4. Beowulf does not kill Grendel's Mother: In the poem, it's reported as fact that Beowulf kills her after a ferocious struggle. Nowhere in the poem does it suggest that she seduces him and he lies about killing her. Again, it's the old song of "everything you know is false -- there are no true heroes." 5. Beowulf fighting in the nude: Beowulf does forswear the use of arms in fighting Grendel, but nowhere does it say that he would fight the monster in the all-together, tackle-out (with only strategically-placed objects protecting his modesty). In fighting with Grendel's Mother, it is explicitly stated that he is wearing chain-mail armor and that that saves his life. I'm giving a pass to her appearance, as it's never stated exactly what either she or Grendel actually were supposed to look like.

6. Hrothgar is almost explicitly stated to be Grendel's father: No, no, NO! Nowhere in the poem was any mention of Grendel's father made, least of all it being Hrothgar, whom Grendel's Mother would not have been able to have "known" anyway, as he was a consecrated king, and it is implied that Cain's kin could not go near signs of rightful royalty. (Cain, the first murderer, who is claimed to be the ancestor of Grendel's kind, not "Cain," the not-appearing-in-the-poem whipping boy of Unferth's, that is.) 7. Hrothgar and Wealtheow have no issue, because Wealtheow will not sleep with Hrothgar due to his sleeping with Grendel's Mother, and the subsequent romantic subtext between her and Beowulf: Wrong again. Leaving behind the fact that Wealtheow probably was not as nubile in the poem as in the movie and showed no romantic interest in Beowulf whatsoever, she and Hrothgar had two sons, and as mentioned before Hrothgar had not slept with Grendel's Mother.

8. Hrothgar gives his kingdom over to Beowulf and then commits suicide by jumping off the tower of Heorot: At this point, I walked out of the theater and demanded my money back, as the movie had officially jumped the shark with no hopes of return.

In short, the movie was little more than a parody, a lampoon on a great epic.
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A huge let down on all aspects of what makes an epic tale
jdkraus24 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Beowulf is among the greatest and most well-known epic tales of Norse Mythology, but it only took me five minutes into the movie to realize that this film was not even close to as something grand. Why? To my surprise and disappointment, this movie was animated. Sure, animation isn't a big deal for a film along the lines of Shrek or Ratatouille, but not for a story like Beowulf. Beowulf is a very serious tale that covers many topics such as vengeance and forgiveness, cruelty and mercy, curses and revelations. I admit, this movie has some of those aspects, but it rather focuses on a corny, stylish animation work.

The action and animation itself reminded me of a teen-rated video game rather than a masterwork. However, there were a couple of scenes in the movie of which some of the up closes of the actor's face in certain scenes look real rather than animated, particularly in the scene of where Beowulf encounters Grendel's mother. I don't know if this was digitized or not, but either way, I felt like I was brought back to a normal film in these scenes versus a silly cartoon.

As with the story, rather than beginning with King Hrothgar murdering Grendel's father, it opens with the King having a party of drunkenness and very inappropriate nudity, particularly for an animation film. Then the party is suddenly raided by the giant Grendel. After this raid, which is quite bloody (especially for an animated film) and long ends Beowulf is finally introduced.

Now, the movie does not explain why Grendel keeps attacking Hrothgar. In the myth, it was because he was responsible for Grendel's father's death. There is no sign or even an implication of this. As for Grendel, well all I can say is he looks like a giant mummy from The Mummy Returns and loves to yell at the top of his lungs. I felt no pain for him, rather an urge to say, "Shut your gull!" I don't want to even bother in trying to explain the rest of the story. It is mainly a combination of Beowulf's two great tales smashed together in under a two hour film.

Since the story wasn't really developed well, the actors did not have much breathing room to really act. The monsters were evil and the good guys were heroes. Ray Winstone as Beowulf is pretty much like Gerard Butler was as King Leonardis from 300. He has a muscle-bound figure, loves to kill things, occasionally tries to be civil in politics, loves to walk around butt naked and shout drunkenly, "I am Beowulf!" I can't help but think of, "This is SPARTA!" Anthony Hopkins, as great an actor as he is, is an old, senile, drunken fool who can't stride from one chair to the next. Angelina Jolie, well, she's Angelina Jolie. She has a great body and speaks smoothly with her accent from Alexander. There's nothing worthwhile in this film, just a wasted epic that relies too much on the CGI department and has vivid images of sex and violence. I'm even more surprised that the great director Robert Zemechis of Back to the Future and Forrest Gump would direct this garbage.

-1/10 I wish I can get my money back.
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Easily one of the most male centered movies I've ever seen
socrates991 March 2008
And I loved it. The creators of this little gem have far more potent imaginations than I and I envy them that. What a rousing movie! I picked it up in DVD to fill up an evening while my wife was away and what a pleasure it was to get engrossed in this brilliantly told tale of courage and adventure. It took me about 30 seconds to get used to the animation. It will take you longer to get used to the idea that this movie actually does a better job evoking a bygone time than the literature on which it's based. That's amazing to me. Another surprise was that Ms Jolie's much ballyhooed nude scenes were more disappointing than I had expected. I found myself more entranced with Robin Wright Penn's Wealthow who is undeservedly undervalued as an indispensable part of this film's magical weave. Ray Winstone rings more true in the lead than anyone had any right to hope for, in my opinion. And then there's Anthony Hopkins and John Malkovich, both adding bits of irrepressible humanity to the mix. This is in sum a thoroughly enjoyable film and I don't hesitate to recommend it, but especially to guys who will have a richer appreciation of it all than I would expect the usual woman will.
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very disappointing
thoroughbred200720 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
To all who have seen the movie and read the book, then I am sorry. To those who didn't read the book: The writers of the film did not follow the story line at all. Beowulf was supposed to pull of Grendel's arm, not shut it in a door. Grendel's mother was supposed to have lived in a lake of fire and be an ugly hag. Beowulf was also supposed to kill her, not make a dragon child with her. Grendel's mother was only supposed to kill one man when she comes to Herot, not all of Beowulf's men. And Hrothgar never gave Beowulf his kingdom. Beowulf had his own. Beowulf, after a long, unsuccessful battle with the dragon, was supposed to have died, not having killed the dragon and Wiglaf ended up defeating it. I cannot give this movie high ratings because of its twisting of the original story, which disappointed almost everyone in that theater.
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Don't waste your money on the 2-D version, this has 3-D written all over it!
simonparker199015 November 2007
I have never had the experience of seeing a 3-D movie before on the cinema, the only experience I have had with a 3-d film, only courtesy of some 3-d glasses coming free with a DVD, was Spy Kids 3-D, a movie while mildly entertaining isn't exactly the best film every to display the greatness of 3-d. So Beowulf today was my first 3-d experience, I went in expecting something good because of the 3-d, but I didn't expect the movie itself to be superb. Part of my reasoning behind this was because of the one and only experience I had had with Zemeckis and his new way of making movies. That movie was unfortunately the Polar Express, a supposedly happy tail that actually freaked me out more than most horror movies! So what an absolute delight to say that Beowulf not only works because of it being in 3-D (more on that brilliant factor later) but also the movie is a genuinely brilliant movie anyway. The motion capture isn't remotely creepy this time round and actually it seemed to make sense in some bizarre way as to why they did the movie like this. The actors surprised me big time, Ray Winstone delivering actually one of his best performances in a long while, Angelina Jolie playing the slinky seductress to perfection and Anthony Hopkins being a joy to watch on screen. Beowulf is an action packed, well written and entertaining piece of popcorn cinema. Just watch the dragon sequence near the end, every single person in my cinema was on the edges of their seat and looked in awe. The action sequences just amaze, and the dialogue sequences surprisingly really work as well. Unfortunately however if you see this movie in 2-D then you will not be experiencing Beowulf in my eyes, take off the 3-D this is a 9/10 movie, with the 3-D it gets the 10/10 rating with a blink of an eye.

As I've previously said the acting in the movie really caught me off guard. Ray Winston obviously is not the first actor who comes to mind when playing an ancient warrior. However when you see the movie and see the performance you understand why Winstone was cast. Sure his cockney acting at first seems a bit bizarre coming from the character, but after a while you see the subtlety of the performance and come the final half hour you realise he's quite possibly the best thing in the movie. He delivers a heartfelt and genuinely brilliant performance. Anthony Hopkins not only looks real in the movie, but he too delivers a performance truly worthy of Anthony Hopkins. Sometimes Hopkins can do a role for a sake of a role (see Mission Impossible 2), but here he seems to be having a blast as Hrothgar and he has some superb moments in the movie. Angelina Jolie plays the most interesting character of the movie, Grendell's Mother, alas she appears very briefly. But her few scenes stick firmly in memory, and her entry scene is one of the most beautifully pieces of cinema I have seen when watched in 3-D. Crispin Glover too has brief screen time as Grendell, but he delivers a heartfelt performance, in fact I felt genuine sympathy with Grendell. Glover might not be recognisable, but his performance shines through in the early scenes. John Malkovich and Robin Wright Penn too deserve considerably praise, as does a brilliant cast Brendan Gleeson.

So as I've said the 3-D really makes the movie have a cherry on top of an already beautiful cake. After they filmmaker get over the gimmick of chucking things at the screen the 3-D is used less prominently, until any action sequences, and when the action sequences begin I doubt you will draw a single breath. Grendell's attack on a beer hall is the opening action sequence, and it is surprisingly violent for a 12a and also amazing to behold. But its the dragon sequence and late battle sequence that stick firmly in mind. I shall not spoil them, but those sequences really did make me wish that every action movie ever made from now will be in 3-D. The problem with the 3-D being so good is that the 2-D version seems like a cash in, in fact the movie relies so much on the 3-D at times that I doubt the 2-D version is worth watching. Swords pointed at screens, the camera pans through trees, the multi layered effect it gives off, in 2-d it just won't work as well, so my advice is to find a cinema that does play it in 3-d, you'll get much more for your money if you do. The storyline and film making is also extremely effective. The subtle dialogue scenes, especially the stuff between Winstone and Jolie really are some of the highlights. Also the relationship between Beowulf and his queen is touching.

So are their any faults? As I've mentioned the 2-D version just won't be as good, but also the movie doesn't seem like it'll be that good at the start. In fact at the beginning, for five minutes, I was expecting to be bitterly disappointed. Thankfully that little slouch at the beginning is livened up with the arrival of Grendell, and from that point onwards you will adore the movie. This is Zemeckis' best movie since Back to the Future and definitely one of my favourite films of the year. Go and watch in 3-D and pray that more movies will be made like this in the near future.
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Worst reproduction of any piece of literature ever.
taylorlopez23 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
As far as movies go, this one has what is popular: action, adventure, sex, blood, and lots of twists that will keep you guessing what the truth is.

However, if you've read Beowulf (which, judging by the reviews, is a small number of people), and you appreciate the characters and hold them in a place of dignity and respect in your mind, then forget about appreciating anything about the movie. Though Beowulf is portrayed in the epic as the great leader and hero who never has done a dishonorable deed, he is, in the movie, portrayed as a liar and a deceiver. He defeats Grendel by closing his arm in a door. He never kills Grendel's mother because she seduces him and together, they beget the Dragon. How does this even make any sense? He returns to the Geats claiming to have defeated Grendel's mother and is then made king by Hrothgar. This is, of course, good for Beowulf, because he has a thing for Wealtheow, Hrothgar's wife, anyway. The kind and noble King Hrothgar has also been degraded to a cheating husband who also sleeps with Grendel's mother (hence the existence of Grendel) and who end up killing himself after making Beowulf king. the only noble deed that Beowulf seems to achieve (in the movie) is by severing his own arm from his body and by tearing out the dragon's heart with his bare hand (neither of which is in the book, by the way.) Funny, in the book, I don't remember the fight with the dragon leaving the cave at all...

We can only pray that someday someone does this epic justice and makes a decent film out of it. Until then, I give this steaming pile of movie a one... out of ten.
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I will kill your Monstah!!!
Jawbox516 December 2013
Everyone knows the story of Beowulf, one of the oldest poems ever written. So Robert Zemeckis certainly had his work cut out to make a film that was both entertaining for modern audiences and still paid tribute to its original source. Zemeckis deciding to film in Motion- Capture again, after the iffy results of The Polar Express, was another brave move. The film did have me questioning certain aspects beforehand, would the Motion-Capture work? Could it avoid becoming another typical action movie? And why Cockney hardman Ray Winstone as the Swedish hero? Making the whole thing work and pay off would be a huge achievement.

The follows the poem as warrior Beowulf and his men travel to Denmark to rid a kingdom of the monster Grendel. After Beowulf manages to kill the creature, he learns that its mother is still wreaking havoc and goes to her lair in order to kill her. However, once there he makes a bargain with her to become king and bare her 'son' that will have terrible aftereffects. The film deserves massive credit for managing to extend the story without diluting it, something that concerned me prior. The more time means that more characters are developed and become more interesting the longer things go along, especially Beowulf and the Queen. The things involving Grendel and his Mother are great, the older thoughtful Beowulf offers good insight into the man and the climax, with a Dragon, is superb.

The Motion-Capture is a main talking point and, thankfully, it is excellent. There have clearly been developments in the field as the zombie-like expressions have gone and everything is even closer to real life. The characters are brilliantly designed, for example Grendel looks truly monstrous and Beowulf himself is excellently rendered. The characters a look very lifelike and have close similarities to their actors, all except for Beowulf himself. Seeing as he is played by a burly Winstone they make him more athletic looking and he ends up resembling Sean Bean, which sounds strange but works perfectly well.

The details are fantastic, the scenery looks beautiful in all its snow covered glory. A lot of work clearly went into making the backdrop look authentic and it really is visually stunning at times. The use of snow and sunshine looks extremely realistic as they add to the visual spectacle. Certain visual aspects like the injuries and Beowulf's battles are really well stylised, never being too goofy and always looking very effective.

But could Ray Winstone succeed as Beowulf? The answer is a strong yes. In theory the Cockney Winstone shouldn't work. Yet it does, as he possesses excellent charisma and there is an understated intensity to his performance that makes things click. The Cockney accent creeps in at times, such as when he shouts 'I will kill your monstah!', but for the most part he tones it down and does sound like a tough warrior. Here is where Winstone proved that he does have some amount of versatility and he shows he do a great job at the forefront of the film.

The other performances are extremely good. Anthony Hopkins offers his usual hammy turn as the under pressure King, though given the tone of the film this actually works okay and he is entertaining. Brendan Gleeson gives a solid turn as Beowulf's right-hand man, John Malkovich is effective in his backing role and Robin Wright is excellent once again as the sombre queen, showing once more that she is a brilliant actress. Crispin Glover adds touches of sadness and sympathy to the monstrous Grendel. The animation on him looks great and his soft tongue reflects his brutal actions well. Angelina Jolie shows up as the beasts Mother and spends a lot of time with little clothing on. Despite her short appearance she portrays the seductive and cruel creature excellently.

Another hotly discussed aspect is the rating, and I agree with the general view. How the hell did this get a 12 certificate? The violence is truly brutal. We actually see Grendel ripping people in half, blood pouring out of wounds and arms being sliced clean off. Not to mention that there are a lot of sexual references and some very scary moments. Just because it isn't real-life doesn't tone it down. I do enjoy the viciousness as its ads to the films impact, but the rating is just wrong.

The action scenes are impressive, as I've alluded to. Beowulf's battle with Grendel is intense and has some pounding action, even if him fighting in the bluff is a bit distracting. The climax involving a dragon is excellent, containing plenty of pulsating action and edge of your set thrills. Even the drama hits the right spot, the scenes of the older Beowulf and the focus on the Queen leads to a lot of interesting moments. Elsewhere regular Zemeckis collaborator Alan Silvestri delivers the goods again with another top notch score, it has the right amount of intensity and melancholy to fit the film.

I'm actually happy that Beowulf passed my expectations. It answered concerns over expanding the story and the idea of Ray Winstone as the man exceptionally. Some may question why the film wasn't just shot in live action, but I think that the Motion-Capture adds to the films uniqueness and does allow for many wonderful visual moments. The film itself does show that Motion-Capture can add a lot to a film instead of taking away from it. Don't be expecting a perfect adaption because it's not that type of film. The acting is excellent, the action sequences are thrilling and the visuals are truly something to behold. It is a thoroughly entertaining film.
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The Myth movie has come home at last.
titoesteves15 November 2007
Despite all you might have read, Beowulf does not appear on screen as he was in the poem which was the origin of this incredibly well designed CGI tour-De-force. This, although a shock to some, I'm sure, means little to the vast majority of viewers who either 1 - never heard of this legendary hero in the first place or 2 - would forever picture him as Christopher Lambert in the eponymous, and eminently forgettable, straight-to-DVD movie of some years ago. The truth is, this movie is a spectacle to behold: it grips you from the first scene, wrings you by the seat of your pants and absolutely knocks your socks off at every corner - at least CGI wise. It has its faults, surely, as any masterpiece, but a masterpiece it still is. Some set pieces are not as well rendered as others (the water in the ocean is a blatant example) but others are just plain outstanding and technology-defying (like the last battle of the movie, which I won't reveal here). Ray Winstone (Beowulf) is tremendously convincing, as is the generally under-rated Crispin Glover (Grendel - who, go figure, is no dragon, as other people said) - Sir Anthony Hopkins is very much royalty in his own right (King Hrothgar) and Robin Right Penn, Brendan Gleeson and John Malkovich excel in the little nuances that give supporting role characters their chances at the Oscars - unfortunately, Angelina Jolie's part is both a visual treat and at the same time an auditory shame - very few lines are spoken - it seems seeing her with zero garments was understood to be enough to satisfy the teenage crowds - well, I would certainly have liked for more character development but what the hell, can't really complain. As far as anthropomorphic CGI goes all the main characters are instantly recognizable but not perfect (this is still an evolution over Zemecky's own "The Polar Express", mind you) and no matter how much the 3D effects try (and try they do, believe you me), they still seem like gimmicks - the first part of the movie and the cave scenes encompass the best 3D trickery on display - and this new fangled technology is truly superior to the previous red-blue glasses of yesteryear - and will probably leave you with a little less of a hangover afterward. When all is said and done, it stands out on its own merits: epic, comes to mind, and so does cutting edge. This is a movie that will sell a lot of HD hardware (be it BluRay or HD-DVD or whatever else just comes out meanwhile), and sure to be displayed in plasmas and LCD screens all over the world when this movie goes on sale. Go see it now, at theaters, in its original digital form, 3D glasses over your nose and enjoy it for what it is: pure magic.
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Simply awful
animusviator5 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is the worst movie I have ever seen and I have seen a lot of movies in my life.

First off, I have to tell you I haven't read the poem and so wasn't aware of the gross changes made to the substance of the story that I found about while reading comments here. Thus, I won't talk about the awful and treacherous rendition but more of the failings of the movie as a story separate of its source.

The main thing that was inconceivable for me was the so-called hero: Beowulf, hailed by many of his entourage (during the movie) as a savior, as a luminous figure with glorious achievements and high courage is in my eyes, as portrayed in the movie, again I repeat, a braggart, a liar and a cheater( since there is a difference between the two), a power-grabbing sell-out and a lecherous Don Juan in the worst sense of the word (no flashbacks to long-suffering Johnny Depp, please, they're in different classes).

I have so resented the mockery made of this supposed hero that I felt nothing but relief at the end of movie and was left completely cold by his death. (I think I felt more about Grendel's death, such a pitiful creature). Now, I assume, this isn't the reaction sought by the filmmakers, but this is what they got from me and I'm not the only one who left the theatre with an acute sense of disbelief.

The women, well what to say about them: in every scene they were present, they were seen as objects of sexual desire or were involved in romantic flirt, and moreover they seemed to revel in it, the aging Beowulf's young flame was absolutely sickening in her haste to be "approved" by the then king. Not one remote moment where they were more than just acting womanly the men around. Not even Angelina Jolie: I would have expected a knife through the heart for her child's murderer not a roll in the hay (well, mud from cave to be exact).

Sir Anthony Hopkins: the amount of respect I have for the man risked by the filmmakers through a risqué and needless unveiling of flesh in a drunkard romp which I bet they thought it would be funny. And also poor, poor lines, that even his talent couldn't save. I hope to see him in a new movie quite soon to drive the bitterness away. I echo the sentiment for John Malkovitch whose ambiguous, confusing character traits didn't allow him to truly expand.

Other things to nitpick at: the allusions to Christianity seemed out of place most of the time as I didn't understand what they could contribute to the plot (maybe atmosphere), the gory scenes that might look great on 3D, but just left me nauseated (a tip,less is sometimes more), but not when involving Beowulf's striptease nudity (I thought it was real cold up North, but go figure).

The last thing that topped it off and sent me in front of my computer was Wiglaf's last scene, where they finished it in true horror movie style, with the continuity of the evil character that will come back for revenge. It's not the sequel-wanting that troubles me, but what it implies of humankind: this man has been the witness of not one but two falls caused by the same mistake and he's seriously thinking that he should want a repeat of it and get a different result: that's the definition of madness. For me that was the last straw, for the cheap effect, they had forsaken the lesson and its consequences and offer no hope.

As for the animation, I'm not an expert but the friend I went to the movie with who is one says to tell you the animals weren't veridical, the humans' hands looked weird and some often the movements were real awkward, though the dragon was awesome.

That's it, ramble over,hope it helps.
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Very good 3D, silly femanazi revisionist plot
xpqs1 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
First the good parts: The 3D is spectacular in scenes like the that of the dragon flying and the digitization is good in action sequences though not in facial closeups. I liked the ground level shots of horses riding by .

The bad part is the story which follows the current American trend of showing that the real monsters in all situations are men. Not humans overall of course, just men, who it seems are all sex crazed, drunk, loud, violent, sexist buffoons who impose themselves on long suffering women and monsters everywhere. Yet even these Vikings who sing of rape and pillage meekly listen to the "no means no" lecture and cry when reminded that they were unfaithful to their wives.

They're momma's boys who boast of being bad when out of their playpen as Anthony Hopkins shows in arriving on screen in a diaper. Good momma Robin and bad momma Angelina have their own ways of correcting these naughty little boys. Grendel being less of a monster than the men, gets lullabies from momma Angelina while the rest of the men get impalement, evisceration, beheadings and other gruesome deaths.

Good momma Robin is kinder in that she only withholds sex and love from both of her husbands ensuring a long unfulfilling marriage to all parties.

This clearly has nothing to do with the poem or 6th century Denmark or heroic literature which this genre finds disgusting. It's really about Hollywood in the 21st century and the self centered, politically correct intolerance of other cultures and times seen through those who lived in it.

Excalibur by John Boorman is a much better envisioning of a heroic story while the Thirteenth Warrior is Michael Crichton's innovative take on Beowulf.
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jmar197823 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I saw the film in its 3-D Imax incarnation. I found certain aspects of the film appealing: at the core of the film is a psychological and moral allegory about kingship in a warrior culture committed to offensive warfare for the sake of treasure (hence, the role of Grendel's mother). As such, I don't mind the plot changes from the original poem, which in the end also simultaneously celebrates and critiques the Teutonic warrior ethos.

What did bother me, and what almost sent me running from the theater a few times, was the emphasis on the gaudy and garish visual effects, not to mention the overdone soundtrack. The depiction of Grendel as an anguished, pathetic simpleton upset by the noise coming from Heorot is far less effective than the original poem's presentation of him as a mysterious, undescribed evil descended from Cain. Having a completely disrobed Beowulf fight Grendel led to gratuitous comedy (one was always wondering, "how are they going to cover it next?") that detracted force from what should have been one of the more tense scenes in the film.

The graphic novel look, which was successful in "Sin City" and "300," struck me as less effective here, perhaps because it is no longer fresh but now formula. And while some of the 3-D effects were noteworthy (the long shot to the ship across the beach early in the film, I thought, was pretty neat) the technology hasn't advanced much since "Invaders from Mars," so there's often an obvious artificiality to it that I thought detracted more than it added.

Perhaps the words "formulaic" and "artificial" best sum up my experience of this film (along with "loud" and "garish"). It had entertaining moments (some of the fight with the dragon, I admit, got me going), but in the end it was all overdone to the point of being indigestible.
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Great Book Sh*tty Movie
Soul_Korruptor20 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Beowulf has been my personal favorite book ever since I read it. I read it three times now. Every movie I have seen or heard of based off the book was nothing ridiculously bad but you could easily tell why they weren't in theaters and some of them were decent but nothing too exciting.

I was really excited last year when I heard that a Beowulf movie was actually going to be released in theaters! So the wait is over and I finally saw the movie...

It was nothing like I anticipated it to be. The movie shows Grendel as some sort of monster to be pitied, which the book shows him as a heartless demon without mercy. Grendel was more of an annoyance than anything in the movie with his constant whining/yelling and immature, babyish, personality.

Grendel's mother in the movie was mainly an animated Angelina Jolie, which again, her personality and looks were nothing like the book. The movie shows Grendel's mother and the dragon to be in some sort of league with each other. The dragon was killed years after Beowulf killed Grendel's mother, according to the book.

So in other words you have a great story but a sh*tty movie. The CGI animation throughout only made it even worse. The book was not based on Norse mythology, which the movie made references to Odin and Ragnarok and such, but rather based on beliefs of God. (The book was supposedly written by a Christian monk with all these references to God) I'm not saying that this entire movie should be based on the book. But I was expecting something similar to that of the 13th Warrior, which strongly reminds me of Beowulf every time I watch it. It had a dark feeling throughout, was about a culture similar to that of the vikings, and was well-written. Beowulf promises animation, annoying accents, annoying yelling/screaming, and whining. It felt like watching a child's version of Pathfinder mixed with Shrek. Beowulf is shown as a fallible character and is persuaded into a deal with Grendel's mother. I could go on and on with the mistakes of this film and how much of a disappointment it was.
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Beautiful but Flawed
Forever_2124 January 2008
Visually this film is stunning. More than once I had to remind myself that what I was looking at was not real actors caught on film but a CGI interpretation. It's difficult to purvey this feeling as either a negative or a positive one: on the one hand I cannot see the point in producing CGI if what the filmmaker's goal is realism of reality. CGI in film is of course appropriate when trying to achieve fantastical creatures and set pieces (which are of course inherently unrealistic) but in Beowulf each actor's face, verbal, and non-verbal performance are recreated in CGI verbatim. This I cannot fathom – why recreate what is already there, in the flesh and far more believable? On the other hand there is a sense of true wonder when in a handful of scenes you are genuinely fooled into thinking that what you are looking at is not CGI, but live action film. You are left with no choice but to marvel at the technical and artistic achievements. However, the illusion is inevitably shattered when you begin to pick up on some of the unrealistic lighting, dodgy physics and for some reason: gesticulation (wooden puppets spring to mind). It's really hard to understand what was being attempted with this film: genuine realism (then why recreate the actors in CGI?), complete fantasy immersion (then why are some scenes so tangible?), or (as I suspect) purely an exercise in what is possible with modern CGI.

The pace of the story itself is about right with a good balance of character development and plot enhancement. Anthony Hopkins puts in a decent performance as Hrothgar and John Malkovich as Unferth is suitably sinister. Ray Winstone is, well, Ray (WYSIWYG) Winstone. Angelina Jolie makes a brief and scantily-clad appearance as Grendel's Mother although at times I found it very difficult understanding the dialogue between Grendel (Crispin Glover) and Grendel's Mother due to some very obscure accents. It's difficult to discredit the physical acting because although it is clear that the original actors did perform physically I suspect that much was lost in the CGI transformation.

Unfortunately this movie's biggest flaw is the story itself. I appreciate that when interpreting the written media to film some degree of poetic licence is required, but why do so many filmmakers blatantly disregard original source material unnecessarily? Beowulf does present the key protagonists, and the first half of the film is fairly accurate but the second half is wildly aloof in its interpretation of the original text.

That said, overall the film is beautiful and should be applauded for what has been achieved but for the time being you are left feeling that this technique of story telling should be confined to games. Incidentally, I felt the same about The Polar Express, although that film was aimed at a far less mature audience…or was it?
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