Monday, November 19, 2007

Movie Review: "Beowulf"

I saw "Beowulf" on Saturday night. Angelina Jolie as a sleazy "other woman" - who woulda thought?

AJ must have spent a lot of time tracking down and interviewing such women to try to "get inside their heads", reading old Strassberg acting manuals, contacting Joan Plowright to ask what "Larry" did to prepare for all those marvelous stage performances, and doing some serious meditation. The performance was, in a word, effortless.

Anthony Hopkins did his normal workman-like job (which we all imagine was "brilliant" because he got knighted, and "anyone who gets knighted must be brilliant, right?"). I don't know who played the Queen - the computer animation made her look like Robin Wright, but I'm so lazy, I can't even be bothered to go look it up right now. In any case, the queen was okay. So was the young chick. So was Beowulf.

Oh yeah - the story. Short version: Monster (Grendel) threatens community of Danes, Beowulf comes and kills the monster, displaces Sir Anthony as the community's king, is seduced by homewrecker, sires a new monster, and then dies killing it. Along the way, lots of head-chopping and "riotous drinking in the mead hall", etc.

Bottom line is, I thought it was pretty average. I actually preferred the "Beowulf and Grendel" movie that came out a couple of years ago starring Gerard Butler and Sarah Polley, even though it was pretty slow, and its budget was less than one/tenth that of Zemeckis's; and - shockingly - in that one, they just filmed real people in Iceland. (In fairness, though, this version will make way more money).

"Beowulf" Director Robert Zemeckis was great on "Back to the Future", absolutely STELLAR on "Forrest Gump", good on "Matchstick Men", but..."The Polar Express" was so bad, story-wise, it doesn't even deserve to be insulted on here, and "Beowulf" is pretty average. Personally, I wouldn't mind another stab at a Forrest Gump-scale epic by the talented screenwriter and director. Perhaps all the graphic hiddly-piddly distracts him and his team from locking in what made several of his other movies genuine classics: superb directing, superb acting, and a superb, airtight story.

I'll be waiting.


Guinevere said...

My husband and I are going to watch the 3D version this weekend, hopefully. Our friends said that's the only way we should see it, because the 3D effects are awesome, but the rest of the movie was just alright.

patrick said...

Beowulf's animation was all around impressive, though the characters' movement reminded me a lot of Shrek. I appreciate the fact that this movie gives a pseudo-education in ancient literature (never had to read the book as a child)