Friday, November 16, 2007


You remember me. I was the kid in your high school class who actually enjoyed reading Beowulf. I was the one who was apt to say something like, "With my grip I will grapple the gruesome beast!" at odd moments or talk about the time we took a vacation and saw the whale road.

And something I enjoyed before I ever got to high school was 3-D movies. When I was a kid, the theaters in Mexia, Texas, weren't equipped to show 3-D, but I was lucky enough to see a few of the movies, anyway. My aunt took me to Dallas on my birthday to see
It Came from Outer Space. I saw Fort Ti while we were in Galveston on vacation. My parents took me to Waco to see Sangree. I saw House of Wax and The Murders in the Rue Morgue in Ft. Worth on a school trip.

So was I going to pass up a chance to see the new 3-D version of Beowulf? Not on your life. I couldn't get to an IMAX theater, but I did find one nearby that was showing the film in digital 3-D, and that's where I went.

Let's talk about the story first. Yes, they changed it. I guess I know why. The Beowulf of the poem is too purely heroic. He has his flaws, but they're minor ones, and that will never do in this modern, cynical age. So we get a guy who makes a major blunder. Personally, I like the old way better, but that's just me. And while the fight with the dragon in the movie is thrilling, probably the best thing in the picture, I think the final section of the poem, with the old king doing what a man has to do, with the faithful Wiglaf backing him up, says a lot more about love, duty, friendship, and honor than you'll find in a hundred movies like this one. But that's just me.

Now about that 3-D. It's awesome. Great. Wonderful. I loved it. Why anybody would see this movie in any other format is beyond me. It won't be half as good. Not one-fourth. The visual effects carry you over the slow spots, and some of them are truly eye-popping.

Which reminds me. There's a lot of eye-popping in this movie, not to mention gore of many other sorts. It's over-the-top violent, and how it ever got a PG-13 rating, I'll never know. Except that violence doesn't bother the ratings board. It's nudity they hate. Well, you've got Angelina Jolie (or a representation of her) fully frontally nude here. No nipples, though, so I guess that's what saved them. She Grendel's mother, and while she doesn't have cloven hooves, she does have, well, you'll just have to see for yourself.

And you really should. See for yourself that is. If you like 3-D, you can have a good time with this one, in the same way you can with The Vikings or The Long Ships or even another Beowulf movie, The 13th Warrior. Check it out.


Todd Mason said...

Inasmuch as they display Grendel's mother's feet in the trailers and tv ads, and the sheer poverty of imagination inherent in having her feet be Come [Have Sexual Intercourse with] Me painful high heels (as I've noted elsewhere, no wonder she's grumpy) has been one of the factors chasing me away so far, particularly with all the more promising films out now (Zemeckis goes HEAVY METAL with the 'Wulf! No, no, no.). But my Jolie-crushing housemate definitely militates for seeing it. Will take your 3D rec seriously.

TM said...

And then there was the Canadian tv film, BEOWULF AND GRENDEL...along with the cartoon of John Gardner's GRENDEL, released as GRENDEL GRENDEL GRENDEL GRENDEL, we almost have enough for a very strange marathon at a given geek's house.

Bill Crider said...

You have to keep in mind that I'd go see a movie based on Family Feud starring Richard Dawson if it was in 3-D.

Fred Blosser said...

I liked it a lot, Bill. The PG-13 rating is about right -- let's face facts, who better to appreciate scenes of mead-quaffing, head-cleaving, Angelina Jolie naked, and monster dismemberment than 13 year old boys? If they taught "Beowulf" and "The Iliad" this way in high school, betcha a lot more kids would groove on literature. The 3D was truly impressive, leaps ahead of the last go-round in the '80s with Tony Anthony's spaghetti western, "Comin' at Ya." Trivia note: the movie's assistant director was Josh McLaglen -- son of Andrew and grandson of Victor.

Bill Crider said...

Thanks for the trivia note, Fred, and this 13-year-old liked it a lot, all right. The thing about teaching the poem that way is that as much as teachers like to use movies, this one might get them in trouble. Might be worth a try, though.

atcampbell said...

I just saw this film in Digital 3D in Austin. The fight with the dragon at the end was nifty, but otherwise this was the most boring use of 3-D ever. It was mostly talking heads of people in brown clothing in poorly lit rooms. The Grendel monster was pathetic. This film was more boring than the Brad Pitt Troy film. I even enjoyed Jaws 3-D more.