Directed by Robert Zemeckis.
Written by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. Based on a poem.
Starring the voices of Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Robin
Wright Penn and Angelina Jolie.
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 11/20/07
I'll give "Beowulf" this much--in 3-D, this
puppy looks good.
Based on some epic poem from thousands, if
not millions, of years ago, a warrior named Beowulf (voiced well by
Ray Winstone) rolls into Denmark in the early 500s with his team of
soldiers and his lieutenant, Wiglaf (Brendan Gleeson). He has
arrived here because he has come to rid the lands of an evil,
nasty-looking bastard named Grendel (Crispin Glover), a bastard that
seems to keep showing up every time there's a loud, raucous party
hosted by the king, Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins). Beowulf also
seems to have a tendency to beef up some of his stories of legend
past, if not lie about the outcomes outright; when his team is taken
out by the beast but Grendel is laid to rest, temptation comes
calling in the form of Grendel's mother (Angelina Jolie), and
Beowulf has a very important decision to make about his
The story is a good one, at least for the
first half of the film. "Beowulf" loses some steam after our
lead character makes that crucial decision about his future, and
until the end of the film, I thought that the whole thing lost some
steam and many of our audience members in the process. Again,
in 3-D (or "Reel D", as the glasses say on the front), "Beowulf" is
just exquisite to look at, like having Salma Hayek laid out on your
kitchen table, it looks fantastic up close and personal.
Robert Zemeckis, who did similar work with the digitally-animated
Express", does great work here again, and the textures are
mapped well to what appear to be digital representations of all of
the actors except Winstone, who looks much fatter and shorter than
Beowulf in real life. From a purely aesthetic point of view, I
thought this movie was amazing.
But, in some ways, the animation gets old
and once you are sitting there waiting to be entertained, the mix of
weak second half, slightly-too-adult cartoon behavior (jiggling
breasts just kind of freak me out in movies like this), and a couple
of other rough edges catch up to the beautiful print. And,
I'll admit it: when you drop $12.50 to see a film (I guess those 3-D
glasses add a major cost to the production), you want to be blown
away, and "Beowulf" only does that from the perspective of digital
art. I am very glad I saw it in the theater because the home
experience won't be able to touch the theater experience, especially
when you add in the incredibly epic score attached to the film.
Still, "Beowulf" leaves you with only a so-so taste in your mouth.
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard