A lone voice crying from the Sonoran desert.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Beowulf - Review

I watched Beowulf this week.

For those of you who don't know, the movie is CGI directed by Robert Zemeckis, the guy responsible for Cast Away, What Lies Beneath, Forest Gump and more. It uses the same tech as The Polar Express and Monster House.

I was so excited when this came out in November as Beowulf has been my favorite story/novel since I was a kid. I read the abridged version when I was 11 and a mythology nut. I read the unabridged version at 16 and it just reaffirmed to me what a fantastic story this was. A bit of history for those that don't know it, Beowulf is the oldest written western, ... ANYTHING! It predates any other written text from Europe except the bible. It is the oldest non religous text in the world. Of course there are older stories passed down by oral traditions but were not written till later. This is a viking story.

I had extremely high hopes for this film. It seems like everyone saw this movie in the theater, and those that didn't are buying the dang thing on DVD!

Robert Zemeckis gave the entire world the shaft on this movie.

For starters the movie starts off with Hrothgar in his kindgom initiating a new throne room. The characters act like, well, a bunch of freaking vikings. Loud, bawdy and gregarious. Kind of like a wierd grissom family reuinion with more alcohol. Immediately after they are terrorized by Grendel. Grendel for the uninitiated is a demon, the devil, an ogre, a monster etc.

Grendel for all intents and purposes kills every able bodied male in the room except Hrothgar (getting to that) and his advisor (played by a skeevy John Malkovich) who hides.

Hrothgar proceedes to burn/bury the dead and then bar the doors to his great hall as he believes THATS WHY GRENDEL ATTACKED.

Enter Beowulf on his ship with his men fighting through a rough storm but they persevere and land. Talking about how great Beowulf is (sorry I was bored by this point). Honestly the whole messenger part of the story reminded me of a great movie, 13th Warrior. Sadly the similarities end there.

Beowulf then talks to Hrothgar who is just excited to see a real man around, although with the fame Beowulf is packing he should have hidden his wife a little better. Beowulf demands booze and they start another party. Here's where I got a little upset. John Malkovich's character shows up and starts questioning Beowulfs heroism (a sea race) and we go back in time to check it out. We now get to see a super cool race between Beowulf and another Hombre who apparently is pretty tough dude.

They are swimming and Beowulf narrates the attack of several Sea Monsters. I'm thinking ALRIGHT some action! Let's kill some monsters! Beowulf kills several even digging through ones EYE! I'm so remembering that the next time I'm fighting a sea monster, get swallowed and EXPLODE OUT OF IT'S EYE SCREAMING MY NAME! Too freaking cool! Unfortunately the magic ends with Beowulf getting entranced by a mermaid and we get the impression he's sowing some oats because he drops his dirk under water. Back to Hrothgars hall. As Beowulf now BLOVIATES about how great he is, his captain starts grumbling about how he killed fewer monsters the last time he told the story. WTH?! If this guy was any kind of friend/captain, or any kind of a viking he'd be shouting Beowulfs praises and then looking for women, gold or booze!

Talking between the king and his queen, his advisor (John Malkovich is brilliant but still a skeeve) and Beowulf resumes. And talking between Beowulfs men. The grunts were much more interesting almost like hanging out with the football team again. Yeah it was that raunchy.

Hrothgar leaves and Beowulf gets naked. He WHAT?! Yes he gets NAKED! Something about fighting the monster as god intended. WTH? In the poem he fights without his sword but naked? Thats a stretch. So of course the fight scene is needlessly complicated because the camera constantly must put something oblong in front of Beowulf's nethers. This makes it the most frustratingly difficult to watch fight scene I believe that has ever been put to film.

From there EVERYTHING goes downhill. Beowulf goes to fight Grendels mother who happens to be a naked Angelina Jolie who he then sows some more seed because she's lost her baby and wants a son. Hrothgar kills himself because Grendel is dead (oh by the way he's grendels daddy). Beowulf becomes the dragons father and he kills the dragon by cutting through a thin slip of skin at the base of the neck and then (extremely painfully) cuts his own arm off to rip the heart of the dragon out to save his wife (Hrothgars old one) and his mistress.

Then he falls to the beach and dies.

This movie sucked in so many ways I can't begin to exclaim. Beowulf was a classic hero, meaning great and boastful powerful and strong. All the things that the Vikings and Celts would have respected and expected in their heroes. Not this crappy Beowulf who doubts himself, is vain uncertain.

This does win the award for the best rant.

I am Ripper... Tearer... Slasher... Gouger. I am the Teeth in the Darkness, the Talons in the Night. Mine is Strength... and Lust... and Power! I AM BEOWULF!

This also wins hands down for one of the most beautiful movies or CGI movies ever! I've been wanting another adult themed CGI movie since Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Sadly we're still waiting for a great one, because this Beowulf leaves much to be desired.

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