Movie review: Beowulf

Beowulf is thought to be the oldest story written in the English language. Given that, the fact that the latest movie version uses the latest in computer graphics technology is a little ironic. For the most part, the graphics are truly amazing; in a number of scenes, I had to work to convince myself that it actually was computer graphics and not a live action movie. Other scenes were not much better animation-wise than Shrek, but I guess that’s what happens on the bleeding edge of technology.

I read somewhere about some controversy regarding the rating of this movie. It was rated PG-13, and people thought it should have been higher because of Angelina Jolie’s character being essentially nude through all of her scenes. The weird thing is that the movie deserved a higher rating because of the violence and gore — it didn’t much matter about the nudity. Blood splattering everywhere, arms and heads being severed, people being impaled on spears and other objects, someone’s head being bitten off and chewed up, someone being ripped in half, monsters being stabbed in the eyeballs, someone ripping the heart out of a dragon with his bare hands… and people think kids shouldn’t watch this movie because of Angelina Jolie’s boobs?

I’ve never really been a big fan of Jolie — I haven’t seen all of her work, but she’s a decent actress, and is certainly attractive, but I’ve never found her to be as amazingly beautiful as others make her out to be. In this movie, however, well, all I can say is wow. The animators made her character look exactly like her (thanks to the skin-tight motion capture suit they had the actors wear), and in the world of sexy animated women, she makes Jessica Rabbit look like Ernest Borgnine.

Sorry. Back to the movie. Note: Some spoilers follow.

At the beginning, the Beowulf character is the ultimate hero — strong, fearless, and confident almost to the point of arrogance. The Grendel monster has the entire town in panic, and he dispatches the monster with relative ease. Quite honestly, I thought it was too easy. The whole thing about Beowulf being naked when he did this was a little silly though, as was the clever “camera” work to avoid showing his stuff on camera; that reminded me of Austin Powers and seemed out of place in a supposed action-adventure movie. Then he met Grendel’s mother (Jolie), who turned him from a hero into a fraud and a liar in no time flat. It seemed to me that the character we saw at the beginning who fought all of those huge monsters should have been strong enough to resist her temptation (though she would have been pretty damned tempting… Sorry.), but he seemed to cave pretty quickly. And what was in it for her? Was Beowulf a good enough roll in the hay that she agreed to leave the town alone for 20 years?

Anyway, aside from the gore, it was a pretty good film. Much better than another movie we saw recently, Michael Clayton, which was billed as “a different kind of thriller”. Sure, one that wasn’t in any way thrilling. There’s two hours of my life I’m not getting back.


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