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Beowulf
DVD disk
03.03.2008 By: Sturdy
Beowulf order
Director:
Robert Zemeckis

Actors:
Ray Winstone
Anthony Hopkins
John Malkovich

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Hero and famed monster-slayer Beowulf, answers the call of a small village to rid them of their monster. Once there, he finds the temptations around him too much to resist and must live with the curse that haunted his predecessor.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
While watching this movie, I kept thinking what an original telling it was on a familiar storyline. Of course, I had to remind myself that BEOWULF is actually the oldest work of fiction in the world, so calling it original might be a stretch. However, it does give credit to Robert Zemeckis for telling a story that most people already know with style and efficiency.

Of course, my biggest problem is with the creepy-looking animation. It wasnít so much a problem with Beowulf himself and the other major characters, but with the extras and minor characters, it was a huge problem. While Beowulf had facial features and detail in his muscles to make him look human, the barmaids and extra soldiers looked like a 2nd grader made them out of clay. The entire opening scene was a good example of this and a poor way to open up the film.

Despite the creepiness, I actually enjoyed the film. It moved along nicely and kept you entertained throughout. Itís a fast paced film with some nice looking visuals and cool special effects. I thoroughly enjoyed the battle sequences even though the humans looked rubber at times. I also enjoyed the characters and thought they did a nice job of giving them motivations and a purpose without slowing down the film.

Robert Zemeckis is a good storyteller and this animation technique is light-years better than what he was using on the POLAR EXPRESS. BEOWULF is an old story, but Zemeckis does a fine job with it and makes it very exciting and fun to watch. If you can make it past the animation, you might actually enjoy yourself.
THE EXTRAS
A Heroís Journey: The Making of Beowulf (23:55): Thereís a lot of behind the scenes footage from the film, which is a good thing for a film like this. Letís just say that they did a lot of enhancement on Ray Winstone. Joking aside, this was a nice featurette and I found it to be interesting because it felt more like a documentary.

Beasts of Burden: Designing the Creatures of Beowulf (6:56): This was a quick featurette giving some time to the various creatures in the film. I didnít even realize that Crispin Glover was Grendel. It fits now that I think about it, but I was still surprised. This is also worth watching.

The Origins of Beowulf (5:10): This wasnít as in depth as I had hoped, but it was a brief overview of the story of Beowulf. I was glad that Robert Zemeckis didnít understand the original prose of Beowulf because I didnít either. I donít know much about the original Beowulf and after watching this, I donít feel like I know any more.

Creating the Ultimate Beowulf (1:56): They said that no one captures the vision of Beowulf that Zemeckis envisioned, but I disagree. I think the cartoon version looks and moves a lot like the real life Brad Pitt, but maybe thatís just me. This was pretty much a worthless featurette that barely touched on the casting of Ray Winstone.

Deleted Scenes (10:09): These are a few unfinished scenes. I struggle watching unfinished animated scenes, but these were ok. I donít think the movie lacked because of their absence, but theyíre worth the time if you liked the film.

The Art of Beowulf (5:22): The film looked and felt very impressive and this is a quick featurette detailing the artwork in the film and the time spent on making the film look good. Itís brief, but it was mildly interesting.

There are also some Previews
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I wouldíve liked to see a live action telling of BEOWULF, but I have to admit that this version was pretty decent. I know a lot of people will be turned off by the animation style, but everyone else, I think youíll be pleased.
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