Beowulf

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Posted November 15, 2007 in Film

Beowulf (Ray Winstone) and his gang of Danes want mead, women, and fame. To get them, they’ve got to slay Grendal (Crispin Hellion Glover), the whiny and over-sensitive demon with the peeling skin who’s been chewing up the skulls of King Hrothgar’s (Anthony Hopkins) men. Which means bludgeoning IMAX 3D with spears and severed legs and fountains of blood hurtling toward your magic glasses. In a perfect world, the soundtrack would be Manowar (“Black Wind Fire and Steel” was made for a shot of Beowulf bursting through the eye of a monster). But the Norse fighters don’t want to hear songs about glory, they want to inspire them and thus gain historical immortality—if only Bill and Ted’s time machine could plunk the actual Beowulf before Robert Zemeckis’ bombastic tribute. Those who remember the 3000 line epic from 8th grade English will be pleasantly surprised to learn they’ve scrapped the original plot altogether. The traditional epic was episodic and cold; here, Zemeckis struggles for a cohesive theme about man’s inability to control their inner demons of hubris and lust, mainly because the latter means that in this version, Grendal’s beastly mother can be prettied up as Angelina Jolie with a tail and cloven foot high heels. Like in an XXX movie, she caresses his sword until it explodes into hot liquid metal. Writers Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary still can’t keep the epic’s new intention from falling flat and the layered animation is more unnerving than spectacular. Instead of 300’s dramatic beauty, the cartoonists invest energy in giving everyone nose hairs and wrinkles—though Beowulf’s lacy scars are a bravo touch—and in moving them around the Danes’ piles of gold bullion as if they were the awkward robots of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride instead of broad shouldered warriors with axes to grind on the nearest creature’s head. (Amy Nicholson)


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