The Reel Deal: Viewing Beowulf is like an adventure


Somewhere along the educational lines, you are bound to run into "Beowulf" a 10th century epic poem written in Old English about the adventures of a great Scandinavian warrior of the sixth century.

Those adventures include slaying sea monsters, a beast that destroys communities in Denmark, the beast’s mother and his battle with a dragon.

The movie "Beowulf," directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman, interprets the epic in a different light. That different light made me go back and read the poem because I was scratching my head wondering if I read it wrong, or just did not remember the translations.

I must admit to being drawn to strange things, which from the trailer, "Beowulf" certainly would be. That is only one reason I went to see it. The other was that I wanted a pair of 3-D glasses to, you know, wear in the company of myself, but sadly didn’t see this flick in a theater equipped with RealD technology, but that was okay. I just hope they come along with the DVD release.

What you see on the screen is neither wholly animated, nor is it live-action, which means I spent most of the running time wondering exactly how they do that, and the rest being jealous because even in performance captured technology, Angelina Jolie is still sexy.

Jolie plays Grendel’s (the community destroying beast) mother, a water creature who births inhuman monsters of impossible destruction and strength. Instead of being a huge troll-like woman I pictured reading the poem, she is a gorgeous sea nymph who seduces the kings with words, riches and glory. She fails to tell them they will be the ones who impregnate her and their children will rein destruction upon their kingdoms. Go conniving sea temptress!

I think if this movie was devoid of the animations and performance-capture technology, it would be completely stupid but "Beowulf" is worth the price of admission.

I don’t think they wanted people to sympathize with Grendel (Crispin Glover) though, but I found myself doing it. I mean, you’re trying to rest in your homestead and all you can hear are these drunken Danish people shouting "Hrothgar" (the King of the Danes, played by Anthony Hopkins) all night long; you’re bound to get agitated.

Speaking of agitation, when Grendel does finally come to shut up the inebriated merry-makers, the strobe lighting in those scenes was headache inducing. That is probably the only thing I disliked about the movie from seeing it once. Well, that and all the strategically placed objects in front of a nude Beowulf, played by Ray Winstone. Hey, whoever thought Mr. French from "The Departed" would be such a stud with performance-capture technology?

If you haven’t seen "Beowulf" yet, I think it would be worth the trip to any theater, with or without RealD, but just remember to bring some shades for when Grendel comes on screen.

I gave this film a B-.

Dedra Cordle is a Messenger staff writer.


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