I didn’t see Beowulf in a cinema, so I missed out on the eye-popping spectacle of a 3-D naked Angelina Jolie, looking like Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger.
I thought it was a shame that Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary felt compelled to change the story so dramatically, turning Grendel’s mother into a seductress and stripping Beowulf of one of his great victories. While we’re on the subject of stripping Beowulf, I found it highly amusing that the animators decided to have Beowulf fight Grendel naked. However unlikely, this is one kind of change I can get on board with. But they were very careful to make sure we never see any naughty bits. In fact, when one slows down the film to take screen caps, it is questionable whether Beowulf even has bits. (The physical model for Beowulf, Alan Ritchson, definitely has bits. So does Ray Winstone, who provided Beowulf’s voice.)
Beowulf’s nudity allows for some entertaining visual jokes, this being my favorite…
Did you ever wonder why military helmets often have those thingies sticking up on top? Clearly, they’re symbolic.
And finally, there’s this creative “upshot,” in the scene where Beowulf breaks’ Grendel’s arm off.
I was impressed with the animation in this movie. It uses the “motion capture” technique where they have real actors walking around playing the roles, but wearing suits with sensors to track their movements. Motion capture doesn’t record faces, yet the CG faces of the animated characters were strikingly similar to their real-life models. At times, the action appears to be live, though some types of movement still don’t look realistic (this was especially apparent in the swimming scenes).
Other recognizable actors included Anthony Hopkins as Hrothgar and Robin Wright Penn as his queen Wealhtheow. My favorite was Brendan Gleeson as Beowulf’s boon companion Wiglaf.
Overall, I enjoyed this more than I expected to. Beowulf is easy on the eyes and suitably heroic. I worry that kids who see this will come away with a distorted understanding of the original, yet the changes strengthen the roles of the female characters, and add to the narrative interest of the tale.
I was pleased to see that Beowulf’s spectacular body is not a pumped up, comic-book style computer-generated fantasy, but accurately reflects its real life model.
Which brings up the question of whom they used for Angelina Jolie’s body. According to IMDb it was fashion model Rachel Bernstein, who nevertheless seems to have received a certain amount of… augmentation in the CG process. To say nothing of what they took away.
I too enjoyed it, even with some of the ridiculous. As an animated film, it goes beyond the typical “movie magic” in live action when it comes to accentuated endowments. But…there are endowments I should like to have seen, if they were going to go there. I regret I did know of Alan Ritchson, but very glad I do now. 🙂 But I too was drawn to it because Winstone/Gleeson/Hopkins and the tale. I won’t deny that the eye candy was an extra treat.
Fighting naked: this may have come from Viking “berserker” (berserker) legends. But berserkers were the product of drug-induced battles where a sure-death was expected. The drugged-drink made them hot and they likely also wanted to be un-encumbered for battle. (Or ready for Valhalla.) But leave it to Hollywood to muddy the details.
With Beowulf, we are supposed to gleen from the fable that everyone is deserving of love, understanding, and respect as a human being, regardless of how they look. And that if you deny or remove that right from an individual, prepare yourself for ugly results. That is pretty muddied in this film as well.
I did not know of Alan Ritchson, I meant. Also, I really appreciate your, um, thorough research on him as well. 😉
Heh, heh. He has the most amazing body. And it really is Beowulf’s body. That impressed me 🙂
I thought the film did a pretty good job of depicting Grendel as a poor deformed creature who was hated and couldn’t control his murderous impulses. I liked the part where he goes back to the cave to die and talks to his mother in Anglo-Saxon.
I didn’t know anything about Ray Winstone, but he’s kind of interesting. I’m going to look for his other stuff. I thought all the voice acting was quite good, except for the weird accent Angelina had. I wonder who directed her to do that? Or was it her idea?
Probably her idea. Meh.
Re Winstone, try Sexy Beast. That is a good, white-knuckle thriller with Ben Kingsley. All mobster mentality. Another talented ensemble of lesser-knowns along with.Tough stuff, but good payoff, I think.
“Sexy Beast” is intriguing. Kingsley, Winstone and McShane in one film, wow. I am laughing right now because I just looked it up and read that “it has about 300 uses of the word cunt and 400 fucks.” Makes me think longingly of “The Godfather” 🙂
Do you know I forgot about that?! Wow, that does sound like a lot. I recall that I found that particular hysterical. The language says everything about who they are and where they come from. Some might have problems with it, but in this case it fits the characters –and not in a way that Oliver Stone thinks it fits his either.
Ah, which Oliver Stone movie are you thinking of? Most of his work I only know from reading reviews!
Oh, well, most if it. Especially in the 80’s and 90’s. Lots of F bombs.
I keep going back to The Godfather, with nary an F-bomb to be heard, yet plenty of manly impact. Now that’s class. I’m writing a post about it.
The Ken and Barbie version of Beowulf ;-))) I enjoyed the movie but couldn’t stop wishing for live actors. I am probably old fashioned, i like my animation of the Pink Panther and Tom&Jerry variety and my movies with people 😉 But, having said that i quite liked watching 300. But i just wouldn’t pay for a cinema ticket for any of this, i only watch it if i stumble upon them on TV.
The Pink Panther! Lovely. I would have enjoyed seeing Anthony Hopkins and Brendan Gleeson play those roles live, but I was quite pleased with the combination of Ray Winstone’s voice/acting and Alan Ritchson’s body 🙂
I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed the anatomical oddities of Grendel’s mother, or the odd equation of Beowulf’s dick with a sword.
Thanks! The sword thing was a welcome jolt of humor IMO.
The first time I saw this movie, my jaw dropped. Liked the comparison with Goldfinger.
Yes, this was an entertaining film, and I hope it leads some viewers to read the poem.
Here’s hoping it will.
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