Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Boston Globe Review of Beowulf

Click on the title above to read review and tell us what you think.


Me, Myself, and I said...

"What you get ... is something unexpected: an hour of violent, subversive near-parody followed by a meditation on the seductions of power, all wrapped up in a thrillingly vulgar blood-and-thunder 3-D comic book. Not all of it works - and not all of it works the way the target audience of jacked-up young males might want it to - but the movie is hugely provocative fun, and I'm pretty sure that's on purpose... Anonymous is doubtless rolling in his/her unmarked grave, but, hey, what's oral tradition if you can't improvise a little? Or a lot."

First off, there are lots of adjectives in there I don't completely agree with (or at all). Most of them, actually. The reviewer obviously likes the movie, mentioning how it isn't directly following the traditional epic and, but adding all the adjectives in there saying that the movie is a thrilling, violent, meditative parody, great fun, and a general all around good time.
I disagree.
It was fun to watch, but I would have been upset about spending the $10 if I had seen it in theaters. It's not that great. If I liked the epic more, I'd be more upset at the huge deviations there are. As it is, I'm kind of distressed that the movie is called "Beowulf," implying it is the same as the epic story highschoolers are, usually, forced to read. I pity those students who watch the movie instead of reading the book and take the test on it. Though maybe not if they can't handle reading a book.

I feel bad for Anonymous, rolling in his grave or not. His/(her) epic has been mutilated into something that resembles it enough to insult it.

If the movie was not attached to the epic, I doubt it would have succeeded very much/well. It simply isn't that amazing of a movie. Decent, perhaps, but not astounding.

Also? I so called the demon lady coming back at the end. And her still loving Beowulf. Though I did hope that the new king would throw the horn at her. Not that that would leave much room for a sequel.
Kind of got a vibe from the demon chick of 'everlasting love for all the men she's ever ...you know. not that she cares enough to give any lasting power/riches/time.'

But, hey, it happens.
You kill some monsters, bed some sea monsters and demons, get killed by your half-demon changeling son.
Oh wait, that's only in the movie. Forgot that doesn't always happen in the traditional epic.

Esbee D.B. said...

I'll admit, I have to disagree. Not to say it was a good movie - it certainly wasn't. As you say, it's okay. The dialogue leaves a bit to be desired, the writers clearly have never even heard of the word subtlety, and the direction doesn't often if ever try to rise over that of a bad video game (which is a vibe only made worse by the graphics). But it does clearly combine violence, satire, and commentary on the corruptive and seductive qualities of power. You see that with the bloodshed; the clearly intentional hilarious poses during the fights, the over the top reactions; the literal seduction by Grendel's mother, Beowulf's despair at the king's death (and the realization of why), and the raw pain behind his threat to the young wannabe hero who tries to kill him.

Is Anonymous turning in his grave? Perhaps. But perhaps he also recognizes that it's a different age. Beowulf was a tale meant to excite and entertain, for that audience of people. As we said in class, there isn't particularly any great thought portrayed. I would say ultimately the only thing Anon. would take offense to is that rather than show what a king should be, like the epic did, Beowulf shows what a king is and warns what he should not be. The two approaches arrive at much the same place though.

Again, not saying I liked it. But I think you're being a bit harsh.

Esbee D.B. said...

Though I will say that Grendel's mother still loving Beowulf TOTALLY defeats the point.

Me, Myself, and I said...

There were already many of those bits in the epic already. The director added some of the more humorous things, but I feel that it didn't add to the movie.

The movie changed the epic. Instead of a "look! mighty hero! he slays things! no mere killing! heroic slaying! this is how you should be men, strong! brave! killing things! Sharing wealth! Good king." story, which is what I feel the original was, the movie is "kill-blood-gore" followed by Beowulf's many non-battle-related conquests, followed by musing on "power, is it so really great?".
I think it could have been put together a lot better.
I stand by my feeling that it would not have done well in box offices (how well DID it do?)if it was something original and based on a famous epic.

Esbee D.B. said...

Did it do well WITH the tie in? I can't remember what sort of numbers it pulled in. Considering it's animated, I can't see it having done too well anyway.

And I didn't say it pulled together well. Just that it did do those things, and speaking as someone who usually hates action, I don't think it was that ridiculously violent. Much more like the epic actually - loaded with manly epicness.

eqprincess91 said...

I definitely agree with "whoever rated this PG-13 should have their MPAA card revoked." I've never played a legit video game (Wii sports don't count), but from the stereotypes I've heard and the commercials I've seen, it seemed to be a lot like a video game, sans audience involvement. There was no need for nudity/gore. Yes, Grendel eating people is gross, and yes, its "only animated people," but come on. I also agree that it was supposed to appeal to the teenage male population, but hello - make up your own stupid story, don't wreck an epic (even if it IS a poor, boring epic). I would be rolling over in my grave, if I was the author of Beowulf; Beowulf is supposed to be the ideal hero/man of the day. I don't think that being incestuous was high on the list of "things to aspire to."

A Songbird Who Sings said...

What's left to say? You guys have pretty much hit the nail on the head for everything I could say about this crazy movie.
Until I read the review, I had no idea this movie was only PG-13. I definitely would have rated it higher. Yeah, it's animated, but it's realistic animation (even if the queen's eyes could probably suck out your soul).

All of this said, I'm not surprised at all that this movie actually was made into a video game (Google is my best friend). If they had any sense, they would have skipped the movie and went straight to this step with all their efforts.
If it were me, I'd have applied that visual style for the animation (though maybe with some more finesse) but maybe stayed a bit closer to the epic's story line (i.e. you would actually fight and kill Grendel's mom). Those battle scenes would have made excellent boss fights in the right hands.
Okay, enough babbling on that matter.

I wish more of the movie's craziness was "on purpose," as the reviewer seems to think it was. I think it takes itself seriously just enough to hurt, not help. For the record, Beowulf's abuse of capslock rage makes me giggle even more than the ridiculously convenient covering of his not-even-animated genitals. This is probably not a good sign. That said, Beowulf needs to meet that king guy from 300, Leonidas or something like that, and have an epic battle of shouting and nudity. That would be hilarious.