Beowulf (2007)

Film review: Beowulf (2007), directed by Robert Zemeckis

beowulfBased on an Olde English poem, Beowulf is the story of a Danish town in Viking times plagued by the monster Grendel (Crispin Glover). And then a hero comes along – Beowulf (Ray Winstone).

Beowulf, while stark naked, slays the beast, and goes to slay the beast’s mum, only to find out she’s a super-hot supernatural creature looking exactly like Angelina Jolie, and thus falls into exactly the same trap as King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins) apparently once did, and for which his young wife (Robin Wright-Penn) has never forgiven him.

And so he lives troubled ever after, but as he comes to be the king, it doesn’t really matter so much. After all, he has a beautiful wife, a place to rule, and he gets to act to a script penned by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. But then things start to go awry again …

Also starring John Malkovich as Unferth and Brendan Gleeson as Wiglaf.

As a visual spectacle, this is good. However, in just a few short years, the technology has evolved, so I think they could make it look better now. It doesn’t look bad, but it doesn’t look right either. The actors are easily recognisable, as they’ve basically made animated avatars of everyone. (And, might I add, Ray Winstone has probably never looked hotter!)

The problem with this is that the animation looks too real to feel animated, but at the same time, it’s too animated to look real. The mouths and teeth look particularly CGI, and the movements are mechanical. If they had acted it in real life, it would have been one thing. If they had gone for a more animated look, it would have been another. But this weird in-between state is neither here nor there. The graphics and the details of them are extremely good, but the movements just aren’t there.

If they had waited a few years, for the sort of motion capture that made The Hobbit and Tintin work, the end product would have been truly magnificent.

But aside from the animation that isn’t quite animated but still too animated to look entirely real, it’s not a bad film, I suppose. I’m not familiar with the story at all – the Squeeze found this incredibly puzzing because it’s Scandinavian (it’s Anglo-Saxon, actually), and he said that Outlander was based on Beowulf. I don’t remember the part where Mr Broodypants shagged a seamonster, though …

It just wasn’t as good a film as it could have been, even though it certainly tried, and CGI Ray Winstone is quite a stunner. But overall, I’m not entirely sure what it was trying to say, aside from even if you’re a badass hero, don’t be a dick and keep it in your pants. Oh, and they kept talking in really weird accents too, none of which sounded vaguely Danish, so I don’t know why they even bothered. Yes, I know the language back then wasn’t the Danish of today, but do you really have to put on a funny accent when you’re all meant to speak the same language anyway?

So I’m not entirely sure how to score it. On the one hand, visually stunning … on the other … meh.

Let’s say 3 out of 5 horns for effort.

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