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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 future.

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 "The Polar 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.

Rating:  Matinee


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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 "Office Space"). 

"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, 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 half stars." 

"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 Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09