Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Overlooked Movies: Beowulf

This is a repeat from 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.


Deb said...

Here's my 11th grade English teacher: "Beowulf stays underwater for three days, which means he must be a non-smoker."

And my favorite exchange in Annie Hall:

Annie Hall (flipping through a college courses catalog): "Contemporary themes in 20th century novels. Does that sound good?"

Alvy (Woody Allen): "Just don't take any class where you have to read Beowulf."

Unknown said...

Bad advice, Alvy, bad advice.

Jeff Meyerson said...

If you compare it the THE VIKINGS and THE LONG SHIPS I guess I need to reconsider. THE VIKINGS was my favorite movie as a kid. Kirk's eye, Ernie Borgnine jumping into the pit...a classic.


Deb said...

What's the one where they make people slide down that long sword? That's my favorite!

Deb said...

And which one was advertised as "featuring Sidney Poitier in his first non-negro role"?

/He played a Moor.

Unknown said...

THE LONG SHIPS. Great movie.

Anonymous said...

I saw it in the theater when it first came out (not in 3-D) and don't remember a thing. That probably says more about me than it does about the movie. Or, maybe not.