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Capone settles down to re... watch BEOWULF

BEOWULF Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here. Of all of the anticipated end-of-year offerings that have the potential to truly knock your socks off in terms of both quality and box-office receipts, few films have more question marks surrounding it then BEOWULF. Everyone I've talked to knows they should be excited about it, but the cold dead eyes that featured so prominently in director Robert Zemeckis' last film, THE POLAR EXPRESS, still bore holes into the souls of many who saw it. The idea of Zemeckis doing another total CGI film meant to look as realistic as any animated film has in history may not sit well with some. At the very least, I can promise you that the eyes in BEOWULF look pretty good. And the film as a whole isn't too shabby either. Let me establish right now that I found this film solidly entertaining, crossing over into outright breathtaking many, many times. I was lucky enough to see BEOWULF in IMAX 3-D, and if you see it any way else, you're really missing out. But even ignoring the film's vast technological advances, screenwriters Neil Gaiman and Roger Avery have crafted a wonderful reduction of the weighty and complicated source material. The true test as to whether you'll enjoy this film or not may rest solely on your ability to watch the movie as a movie and not as a collection of motion-captured effects, photorealistic characters and some of the greatest 3-D you'll ever see. The filmmakers don't make this an easy task. There's a lot to distract you from the power of the story, so much so that you'll probably feel the need to see the film at least twice: once to gaze in wonder at the visuals and once to pay attention to the plot. Not that the plot is that tricky to follow. King Hrothgar (voiced by Anthony Hopkins) is seeing his kingdom ravaged by a monster called Grendel (Crispin Glover in a truly terrifying vocal performance). Grendel is a half-demon/half-human creature that is one of the most hideous things I've ever seen on film. Hrothgar puts out the call to neighboring lands that he is in need of a hero to come save his lands. Along comes Beowulf (Ray Winstone after a serious digital workout) and his men (including Brendan Gleeson's Wiglaf). After falling in love with the Queen (Robin Wright Penn) and a war of words with Hrothgar's advisor, Unferth (John Malkovich), Beowulf defeats Grendel in a bizarre nude wrestling match that rivals Viggo's meat-and-potatoes knife fight in EASTERN PROMISES. Beowulf soon discovers that the kingdom's real threat is Grendel's seductive water-demon mother (Angelina Jolie), who attempts to bed our hero in the hopes of spawning another demon child. This film is only PG-13, but there is more naked ass and hardcore (albeit animated) blood and guts than I've seen in just about any movie all year outside of HOSTEL, PART 2. The greatest thing about BEOWULF is that Zemeckis never stops attempting to dazzle and impress us. There are dragons, sea monsters, bodies being ripped limb from limb and a semi-nude Angelina Jolie. It doesn't seem right to ask for anything more. And there's a moving energy about the film that just swept me right up with it. That being said, once Grendel leaves the story, I felt the movie lost a little something. Sure, the battle between Beowulf and the dragon is remarkable, but Grendel was/is the classic misunderstood monster, who really just wants to be left alone with his adoring mommy. On a purely technical level, there was something a little off with the way the female characters looked in this film, perhaps with the exception of Jolie's character, who looks exactly like her. The other women appear too soft and perfect in the face, almost expressionless. It's a small quibble, since non-demon women don't play a huge role in this story, but it is a distraction. And John Malkovich's performance proves that, yes, even 100 percent digitally created characters can overact like a pro. Still, the lifelike movements of the characters, the freakishly realistic facial features, the way the hair and clothing flowed, all work to make the spectacle of BEOWULF something quite special. The stronger and more substantial screenplay makes a world of difference in dealing with this technology. The emphasis here is on story, and although it's a tale as old as the ages, Gaiman and Avery breathe some spectacular life into it. Those of you reserving the right to withhold your enthusiasm for this project may now exhale. Capone If you're an evil demon that wants to make me rich and powerful and strong... and looks like Angelina Jolie... and all I have to do to seal the deal is have sex with you... mail me here!

Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 18, 2007, 5:50 a.m. CST

    Reminded me of silent movies circa 1910

    by godoffireinhell

    in how it did some spectacular things but it's obvious the technology needs (even more) work. There's no denying that motion capture has come a long way since the nightmare of FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN but it ain't where it ought to be yet, either. The 3D was mostly great but I could have done without the in-yer-face parts. It was better when it just added an extra... dimension without literally stabbing me in the face.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 6:21 a.m. CST

    Its a spectacle,nothing more.

    by Redfive!

    Now the movies fine for what it is,but its hardley a LOTR,its not even a Gladiator or even a 300.I was never in this movie fully,its all effects and almost no soul.Grendel,Jolie,the sea monsters and The Dragons where what stood out.The human element is still not there.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 6:57 a.m. CST

    it really bugs me...

    by Obscura

    ..when people dont understand what the technology behind this actually is. its not really that hard to make things look realistic anymore. Motion Capture is the real controversy here. Motion capture Vs animation. Animation involves someone sitting down and planning out every single move for the best theatrical result. Pixar do this, they just dont have any interest in realism. What Beowulf is, is performance capture, where the actors do the work, the tech guys handle to visuals and then the whole things is sewn back together later... and it doesn't always go very well. Beowulf runs like a ninny. The horses are terrible (cos they didn't motion capture a horse, and the people behind this are actually very poor animators.) The entire thing just made me wonder why they didnt film actors on bluescreen and do what 300 and Sin City did. I think this technology has its uses, but being used as a gimmick isn't one of them. if you use the actors voices, likenesses and motions, you may as well just film it. Monstor House is still my favourite motion captured film, since it didnt try to be real. and for the record, Final Fantasy was NOT motion capture, it was all keyframe animated by real animators.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 7:17 a.m. CST

    I loved the film, especially in 3D

    by Mike_D

    Wont be the same on dvd though.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 7:17 a.m. CST


    by connor187

    Didnt they motion capture horses in the Lord of the Rings?

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 7:34 a.m. CST

    this script was NOT wonderful

    by MatDGZ

    I haven't read the story so i do not know the source material well. This didn't help seeing this version of this story as a film. The screenplay for the movie was, in my humble opinion, poor. Here's the story: Kingdom threatened by ugly demon, Grendel. King calls for heroes. Beowolf shows up, he's ripped. Kills Grendel and gets Golden horn. Shags Jolie. Jump thirty years into the future. Beowolf's demon son is a dragon. Beowolf fights him and dies. Inbetween there are these pitiful characters that are apparently being 'developed' through mediocre dialogue. Nothing here, bar the animation, is new. And don't get me wrong, it looks great, but Beowolf's journey just seemed insignificant. I dodn't give a shit about him or any other characters. i was amazed by the visuals of the film and the realism of certain elements of it (especially the lighting), but I like a good story and this just felt like another (albeit more daring) Hollywood escapism fest with no real substance. I would watch the movie again but only for its visual attributes, not for story.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 7:40 a.m. CST

    Beowulf and Grendel

    by Lerkst

    Beowulf is a great entertainment, but what MUST be seen is Beowulf and Grendel with Gerard Butler. It captures the feel of Beowulf but within the confines of the Grendel Story itself, and there's now Mom to deal with. Very subversive, and beautifully shot in Iceland. BUT, Beowulf '07 is just fantastic for the simple reason that I've never seen anything like it, and I didn't want it to end. Not many films in the last ten years I can say that about. Glover gives the best performance of this kind since Serkis in Rings.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 7:52 a.m. CST

    IMAX-3D is the only way to see this film...

    by Napolean Solo

    If not, it's like watching Star Wars with sticks instead of lightsabres. The IMAX-3D exhibit of it is a serperate experience altogether.Truly some deep s**t.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 7:57 a.m. CST

    Where to guvnor?

    by metaluna

    'I'm here to kill your monstaaaar'. Watched it last night. Bloody awful. This 3D thing is a gimmick.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 8:08 a.m. CST

    saw this last night

    by ScaryJim

    What a let down. Firstly, I love Gaiman, I saw stardust the other week which was a lot of fun, but I can't believe it took 2 scriptwriters to write this, let alone the guy behind pulp fiction and the guy behind Sandman. I want to know which one didn't have the guts to say that having BEYO WOWF shout out his name like some retarded action figure every 5 minutes was a fucking stupid idea. Anyway that aside, the story is very simple - therefore the script should really be building the characters, which it barely does. The only well fleshed out characters seemed to be the flawed Hrothgar and Beowulfs no.2, Wiglaff, loyal but knowing all too well Beowulfs flaws and tall tales. Beowulf I didn't care about, his 'relationship' with the queen and subsequent betrayal of her we end up having to imagine as a whole 20 year period of time dissapears, which is funny because they did nothing to get us emotionally invested in them previously. Anyway onto the animation. Pretty horrible. I couldn't help thinking all the way through how good this might have been with real actors- even forgivable. The men are quite well animated, the wrinkles and facial hair look good. The women look terrible, they have terrible flat undefined featureless faces, their skin has no texture and doesn't move when they speak- very odd indeed! The movement is awful- some scenes run smoothly but some end up looking like jerky videogame footage. Seeing that this is motion capture it's pretty bad that alot of videogame CGI actually looks better than this. Alot of things can look halfway decent with CGI/motion capture. The dragon looks nice, I was never too fussed about Grendel and it was a shame that there wasn't more to Grendels mother than angelina Jolie with a tail. I can see the scope for cgi/ motion cap for massive battles and shiny scaled dragons, but it still leaves living things looking lifeless. It just feels like cheating, badly. Not even if it was fully live action would it be anywhere near the scope of Lord of the rings visuals- so animated it's just completely worthless. I'm not emotionally invested and I can't appreciate the visuals, they just completely take me out of it. I couldn't watch it in 3d either so maybe with that sheen taken off it it's a bit easier to see it's flaws.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 8:22 a.m. CST


    by Porco Drunko

    Agree with you absolutely about the script, I find it almost impossible to believe that Gaiman and Avary wrote something so disappointing. <P> I must disagree with you over the visuals though, maybe it was because i saw it in 3d but i thought it was mostly spectacular (you could clearly see the scenes where they'd spent time, and where others were glossed over).<P>

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 8:26 a.m. CST

    Jolie has no nipples or labia!!

    by godoffireinhell

    Of course maybe there was something wrong with my 3D glasses!! If so, I shall sue the theater!!!

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Remember guys,

    by OBSD

    Neil & Roger wrote this film so Roger could direct it himself. Zemeckis begged & begged for them to sell it to him, but they wouldn't budge. It was only when the backed a dumptruck filled with "an obscene amout of money" (Neil's words) did they relent. So who knows what their original version of the screenplay was before Zemeckis got to it. Rarely does a director take a screenplay from a writer and not screw around with it, so we may never know what the intent of the origianl screenplay was. I haven't seen it yet, although I am leaving in 5 minutes to see the early show. Wish me luck.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 8:57 a.m. CST

    It is better to see it in digital 3D than IMAX

    by Razorback

    IMAX 3D is overbearing. See it in 3D in a digital theatre.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 9:08 a.m. CST

    Grendel just looks silly.

    by Penetron

    Anyone agree? He' supposed to be this great monster but he looks absolutely retarded. I couldn't get into the movie because of it.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 9:57 a.m. CST

    I agree 100% with ScaryJim

    by superfleish76

    The only difference is that I did see it in IMAX 3D. Just an empty, although pretty, shell of a movie.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:28 a.m. CST

    Waste of time...

    by MJohnson

    My wife, brother-in-law, and I went to see it in 3D Imax the other night. It cost us 36 bucks. It sucked. And isn't even worth seeing for the technology. Way over-rated, way over-hyped, way over-priced. Way bad.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:29 a.m. CST

    I want to see STARSHIP TROOPERS in 3D!!

    by godoffireinhell

    That's one of the first things I thought as soon as I left the theater. I know they're working on LOTR, T2 and TITANIC for 3D re-releases but I'm rooting for some Verhoeven, too.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:30 a.m. CST

    why was the first action scene so terrible? 5 out of 10

    by BMacSmith

    i swear i thought i was watching Shrek or something. The Grendel thing was a terribly designed piece of shit. that said, after the first t2n minutes, the cg suddenly improves a bit. Beowolf and a few others look amazing, but others (Penn) look pretty bad. All in all a pretty average movie. didnt love it didnt hate it. 5 out of ten

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:43 a.m. CST

    When People Tell Me

    by CutAndPaste

    I have to watch a movie in a particular kind of theater to enjoy it, it tells me one thing. The movie is shit.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:43 a.m. CST

    I saw american Gangster

    by emeraldboy

    Yesterday, despite all the talent involved, the movie was very disappointing. It just doesnt gell. I think Larry Fishbourne would have made a better Frank Lucas. but Denzel was just being Denzel and nothing more . Would loved to have seen beowulf but due to technical difficulties the movie was cancelled in the IMC in Dun loaghaire. WE did have an I-max theatre in Dublin, but that is now the Cineworld in Parnell sq.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:44 a.m. CST

    I didn't see it in 3D, but that wasn't the only thing that was d

    by L.H.Puttgrass

    I saw it thursday night in 2D. To see it in 3D for me would involve a 3 to 4 hour round trip. I just didn't have that kind of spare time. Something distracted me during the movie and it wasn't the so-called "cold dead eyes".<p> I've seen the red band trailer online several times. When those parts from the trailer came up in the movie they were edited. Grendel's first attack was especially cut up. He rips a guy's leg off very graphically in the red band trailer. Lots of gore stretching out at the break. In the PG-13 2D version they cut away just as the leg is separating! The guy that gets flung onto the chandelier had a gout of blood flying out his back when it was pierced. Not in the 2D movie, again they cut away just as the chandelier spike comes out of his back.<p> And yes, Grendel's mother is about as anatomically correct as your sister's old Barbi dolls.<p> I've said this before and I'll say it again. Wasn't this supposed to be an "R" rated adult version of the classic tale? The goriest thing in the movie was Grendel, just standing there looking all God-awful with shredded, open flesh.<p> I agree with the other posters who said the women aren't rendered as well as the men. The Queen looks better 20 years later with a few wrinkles on her face than earlier with her severe case of Botox face.<p> I wanted to really like this movie. When I walked out I only felt it was okay. Maybe in 3D there is more of the WOW factor to punch up the visuals, but most people aren't going to see it in 3D because most of the theaters showing it aren't IMAX theaters. Most will see it like I did, at the local multiplex maybe with stadium seating and a cup holder.<p> The only other thing I can remember having a problem with was the conclusion of the dragon fight. I don't like giving away spoilers, especially if they aren't given away in the trailers. So I'll just say that there were some logic errors at the end of it and leave it at that.<p> If you're interested in seeing what the 3D looks like, I can't tell you if it's worth it. I can only tell you that without it, it's just an okay movie. Not great. Just okay.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:49 a.m. CST

    ..was't the only thing that was different.

    by L.H.Puttgrass

    Stupid subject line!!!

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:49 a.m. CST

    actors arent in danger of losing their jobs anytime soon

    by BMacSmith

    bad mo-cap just can't replace humans yet. still looks inferior. This tech is best used as a body double for crazy special effects shots and creatures (used perfectly by weta in LOTR.) Zemeckis dont quit your day job, because you are no Weta or ILM. Very uneven movie. If you can't reach a consistent level of quality throughout dont bother.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:50 a.m. CST

    One of Britains most respected academics

    by emeraldboy

    The writer and prof John Carey said that the makers had destroyed the story of beowolf by taking honour out of the Screenplay. that is what the real story is about Honour. according to Prof John Carey at least.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:55 a.m. CST

    I loved monster House

    by emeraldboy

    too. What a fantastic fim.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:56 a.m. CST

    The story's actually pretty clever

    by DEX

    It seems that people like to pick on the writing for a movie that's visually spectacular but I think Avary and Gaiman have created a nice twist on the epic poem - without giving away anything, things don't exactly play out in the way it should which creates a moral grey area for Beowulf with temptation and greed. I liked that Beowulf was kind of a dick at first - shouting his name, being arrogant (his own men think he exagerrates his stories) but that all makes you wonder if he will rise to the occassion. Yes, the 3D is amazing but in terms of the animation, I agree with some of the comments here, some elements like the women and horses are not quite there. I also agree with the theory that the horses look awful because there are no real animators working on this - the motion capture process probably means they don't require the best animators...

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:57 a.m. CST

    Next year we will start to get

    by emeraldboy

    pics from Camerons latest epic. We will then know if the king of action cinema has returned or not.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 11:37 a.m. CST

    I sure enjoyed it

    by theBigE

    Saw it in Digital 3D last night, not IMAX. I enjoyed it for the spectacle. I did think I was watching "Shrek" a few times, the horses galloping looked terrible, but other than that - not bad. You could tell the violence was edited down, as they cut away right before some very gruesome things happened. Still thought it should have been rated R, however - leave the little kids at home for this one. Question - I thought Beowulf swam down to Grendel's mom's lair and kills her in the epic poem, right? Isn't that how the story goes? But I did love the Dragon battle at the end - awesome stuff!

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 11:50 a.m. CST

    It. Was.Awesome!

    by Dreadlock Holmes

    Saw it last night and i wanna see it again! Beowulf vs the dragon for fight of the year!

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 11:52 a.m. CST

    DEX, doesn't the Gaiman "cleverness" get OLD ?

    by NoDiggity

    It's all derivative, you know? Take a fantasy, a myth that people built up and preserved because they needed something heroic, and then tear it down by adding "moral ambiguity". Gaiman is constantly saying "Look at me, I'm so clever, I saw through the myths to the gritty reality, where the heroes are not really!" He isn't creating a myth, or supporting a myth, he's tearing it down. For what purpose? For self aggrandizement, so people can see how clever Gaiman is. Gaiman is the hero, in everything he ever writes, the illusion-mocker, jealous of what other people have created, while he totally depends on those creations for his own parasitic knockoffs.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 12:01 p.m. CST

    Loved this movie. Looking forward to the R version.

    by phool2056

    There were a lot of places where it seemed like the film suffered because of rating-related adustments. The Austin Powers elements that caused laughs in what otherwise was, for me, the best fight scene in the movie, and the most important. The cuts right before violent things. Also, apparently there used to be more swearing, which probably would have pepped up the ribald Viking songs a little, not that they really needed it. What I really loved about the movie is what the scholar guy someone above hated about it, which is that in the end, the "honor" is all fabricated. I understand that he doesn't want to see his biggest hero brought down like this, but I would be extremely impatient with a movie about a glamorous hero who kills bad monsters. I firmly believe that anyone who does violence makes a monster out of himself, to a certain degree, and this is one of the main themes of the film-that Beowulf is a monster. Let's face it, the original poem is a wee bit misogynistic--we kill the monster, which upsets his mom, so we go and kill her, too. Then we get to be king. I am all for the postmodern take on the story as it might have realy happened, before it got passed on in story.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 12:07 p.m. CST


    by ScaryJim

    Wow, your like, really clever! Seeing through the mythical Gaiman and getting into the gritty reality of what he's all about! Can't you just slate the film for being shit, the rest is.. you know, relative.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 12:15 p.m. CST


    by StrikeAnywhere

    That's one way to look at it I guess. I thought what he did with the story was interesting and connected things nicely.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 12:18 p.m. CST

    There are nearly 1,000 Real D-capable theaters in the U.S

    by topaz4206

    So many moviegoers WILL get to see this exciting new technology in action.<br><br>I haven't seen the IMAX version, but the RealD version is STUNNING

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Solid story, amazing visuals

    by StrikeAnywhere

    That's how I felt about the film anyway. IMAX 3D visuals were breathtaking and the story was good enough to not take me out of things. Very enjoyable experience. Unfortunately when they release the R rated version on DVD it's going to be lacking on my TV compared to the big big screen Can't wait for the film that will have the same amazing 3D depth and combine it with a fantastic story

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 12:45 p.m. CST

    real d isnt exciting new technology

    by aestheticity

    i saw it in 'reald', it gave one guy a headache and you cant focus on closeups for all the ghosting. i expect someone will tell me that the projectionist obviously set it up wrong then. bullshit. this 3d larks got a long way to go yet.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 12:57 p.m. CST

    Gaiman and Avary fucked up

    by troutpencil

    I loved the movie, but not for their interpretation of the legend (which is not that complicated, in fact it's a really uncomplicated story, Capone). Their script is stupid and sort of offensive. In no way is it clever; it distracts and dampens the affect of the movie. It's the kind of thing that would take a movie down from a 10 to a 7.5 or lower in my mind. I would've been perfectly satisfied to see 2 hours of the first scene, interspersed with Beowulf kicking ass. Fat, nordic badasses praising Odin, getting drunk, manhandling wenches, singing songs about glory, then Beowulf shows up and kicks ass, then brags about it. That's all I need, and those moments made me extremely happy. But Gaiman and Avary's bullshit meta human flaws/human guilt interpretation and need of a connecting story messed it up hardcore. In a regular movie the damage probably would've been critical, but the novelty of all the cool shit being in an adult animated (and not fucking anime) movie still made me love it. I remember some interview with one of them talking about how they preferred the chamber moments and drama scenes in the movie to the action scenes. Look at those scenes they preferred. That night scene on the bridge with Lohman and Wright Penn was fucking terrible; no one cares about that back story. Shitty writing, guys.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 12:57 p.m. CST

    Good but not great. Four out of five stars

    by Valin Kenobi

    The thing I don't get, though, is how Grendel came to be how he is. Not to be too spoilery but ... his sibling gets to be a shapeshifting man/dragon yet he's stuck as this absolutely disgusting skinless wreck that makes Gollum look cuddly? Did I miss something--and that's an honest question. (Also, anyone else notice that he has no wang? No wonder he was pissed.)

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 1 p.m. CST

    P.S. On mo-cap

    by Valin Kenobi

    I still think they would have been better off filming on bluescreen and pasting the actors into CGI backgrounds as in 300. What's the point in spending millions of dollars in technology and billions of hours in rendering time to recreate Anthony Hopkins in a computer when he's standing RIGHT THERE in front of you?? If you're going to animate, then by all means animate. But this sort of thing just seems like a waste.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 1:01 p.m. CST

    Real D?

    by StrikeAnywhere

    Is that what this process is called? All i can say is that the closeups were some of the most impressive parts visually IMO. I didn't have any focusing issues. Texturing and depth that the 3d gave on those shots was very good

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 1:36 p.m. CST

    just came back from seeing it

    by Magic Rat

    I liked it a lot. A solid B+ from me. <br> Its worth a matinee price. I would see it again in a 3D IMAX theater, but not in a regular theater. <br> I loved the seamonster fight flashback and the Grendel fight and the last two minutes of the Dragon fight, from the point at which he does that thing (you know) with his arm. <br> I didn't see the point of John Malkovich or bedwarming lady. <br> I did like the chick wiping down the table after the first Grendel fight though. Nice job on her boobs.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 1:42 p.m. CST


    by Dreadlock Holmes

    I just figured that Beowulf had more potent man juice compared to the king hence dragon offspring.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 1:44 p.m. CST

    "It lost something once Grendel left?"

    by s00p3rm4n

    That's the way the fucking book goes, you mook! Jesus tittyfucking... between this and the Shitland Tales review, you're off your game.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 2:09 p.m. CST

    Dreadlock Holmes

    by Valin Kenobi

    Fair enough I suppose. That explains Grendel's scrawniness and ungainliness, but it still doesn't account for the whole burn-victim thing. I'd kind of figured he lost some fight with Hrothgar but that was never explained.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 3:36 p.m. CST

    How does a PG-13 film have an R trailer?

    by TheSeeker7

    Ya know, the "red band" one that came out awhile back? And yea how is it rated PG-13 when you pretty much saw Jolie's bush head on, it looked like (albeit animated) but still. How can that be?

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 3:44 p.m. CST


    by Saltoner

    If you like stiff, boring 3D animation and like to see guys nude, including an old Anthony Hopkins, then this film is for you. I hope this horrible motion-capture technique dies like disco.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 4:02 p.m. CST

    Loved this movie.

    by eXcommunicated

    Saw it in Digital3D (my glasses are sitting here next to me). I'll always remember this movie going experience for being my first introduction to modern 3D technology, and boy, was it stunning! I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Too many people here bitch about "dead eye, the lips don't move right, the animators must've been entry level graduates, etc." bitching and moaning. As a texture artist myself I personally could not believe the sheer amount of detail packed into every frame of this movie. In some shots you could see the fucking peach fuzz on a few character's noses (we all have it). The way hair flowed; the way cloth was textured; the flow and ebb of the water; was all fantastic. For a PG-13 flick this is just amazing. I have my criticisms (I have criticisms of every movie), but they don't distract from the experience for me.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 4:34 p.m. CST


    by Valin Kenobi

    "I liked how they tied the dragon into the Grendel/Grendel's mother storyline. Everything came full circle." Agreed. It connected the two halves, instead of the original which was more like a story and its sequel, "Beowulf" and "Beowulf II: Ye Olde Dragonne". However, I liked it up until the very end--the final scene with Wiglaf, while chilling and extremely effective in its way--was not what I would have preferred to see. I can't say much more without getting spoilery.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 4:35 p.m. CST


    by Valin Kenobi

    Count me into the group looking forward to the unrated DVD. Bring on the four-letter words and CGI phalli!

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 4:51 p.m. CST



    Just got back from seeing this in glorious 3-D. There's a scene (miniscule spoiler coming up here) where the camera pans away from the mead hall & the queen is playing this calming little Lilith Fair type number on a harp. It pans right into Grendel's layer & it's still all la-de-da & then BAM!! Grendel's grotesque 3-D face pops up, tongue flailing around, googly eyeballs & shit + he's screaming bloody murder. Anyway, the kid that was sitting beside me (I'm guessing he was about 14 or 15) freaked the hell out. He screamed, spilled his drink & jumped so high out of his seat that he literally stood up for a sec. I swear I've never laughed so hard in the cinema. Seriously. Took me 10 minutes to compose myself. Awesome.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 5:18 p.m. CST

    im not too excited abt this movie

    by JackGraham

    im not a huge fan of animation, im old fashioned in the sense that i like actors, not actors transformed into cartoons. call me narrow minded, but give me the old school style of filmaking any day over this resurgence of CGI

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 6 p.m. CST

    They lost me as soon as Hrothgar entered the hall

    by Ingeld

    half naked and the thanes in the mead hall were burping. God why does every film need burping or farting? It is never funny. I dislike the whole tone of the movie in regard to the hero, Hrothgar and the monsters. I would have much rather have seen the tone toward heroic as found in TLOTR movies. God even those great movies had a burp joke or two did

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 6:03 p.m. CST

    by HarrysTitCheese

    When will the animation get to the point where it looks like they are carrying around WEIGHT? Everything looks so featherlight it's distracting no matter how good the ani is.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 6:07 p.m. CST

    UGH! again

    by Saltoner

    eXcommunicated must be an entry level texture artist. The 3D was weak. The horses galloping was miserable. The fire was generic and the water looked like sand. They should have motion captured a horse for Pete's sake. As for the "peach fuzz", who cares? Pixar puts so much more into their movies than a million Beowulfs. And LOTR had far more exsquisite backdrops than this film and most of those were real. People who find this sort of fare amazing really don't know much about the animated world. Amazing 3D is Appleseed or The Incredibles, NOT Beowulf. Ugh!

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 6:12 p.m. CST

    It is ironic in a sense that Anthony Hopkins

    by Ingeld

    the create of the quintessential serial killer was in this film taken from an epic poem that details western literature's first serial killer--yet doesn't treat that aspect of the poem. In the poem Grendel is not pathetic he is a monster who kills men because he enjoys killing. What the movie lacks is the real mythic elements of the poem. In the original we are told that Grendel is descended from Cain of Cain and Abel fame. Thus he is part of the mythic blood feud that is taking place between God and Satan. Sometimes this mythic blood feud spills into our world and that what happens in the poem--that is why Grendel kills. Beowulf is drafted into this feud by given the gift of superhuman strength by God. The battle between Grendel and Beowulf is the mythic feud in the mundane world. That is why it is epic. The movie dumps all of the epic nature of the source in favor of personal tragedy. If the hero needed to appear flawed, I would have rather have had him outwardly boastful but inwardly unsure of his own ability.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 6:41 p.m. CST

    I knew Beowulf; Beowulf was a friend of mine.

    by Ingeld

    You, the Character in this movie. are no Beowulf. The Beowulf of the poem is not politically ambitious. When he returns to Geatland and his lord Hygelac dies in a raid, the Queen offers the kingdom to Beowulf who refuses it! Eventually the kingdom of Geats (not the Danes) does fall into his hands.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 6:54 p.m. CST

    Just got back from the theater

    by ClockWorker

    Pixar definetely got there ass' handed to them that's for sure. I did find the story rather uninvolving though. I'd like another live action movie from Zemekis that's what he does best. As good as the movie was it didn't really scratch the itch I've had to see an "adult" CG movie. I wasn't particuraly found of Beowulf's character either.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 7:22 p.m. CST

    Why does Grendel shrink?

    by HarrysTitCheese

    He's like 18' tall in the first fight and then when Beowulf tears off his arm, he's about 6'. WTF?

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 7:53 p.m. CST

    Plenty of Plot and Story

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

    How is the story thin? If you even know what dramatic arc means, then you know that BEOWULF has it. The changes from the original epic are justified. The ancient epics were told orally, and the bards would make changes to make it more entertaining; that's what Avary and Gaiman did. Zemeckis no doubt made some changes. This is how STORIES are told and this is how they have been told since LANGUAGE evolved. Did any of you actually listen to the LANGUAGE? The making of this story into film is a very bold action. BEOWULF & GRENDEL was a visual/cinematic masterpiece of the epic. BEOWULF is a cartoon masterpiece of the epic. I hope future films of the epic get better and better.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 8:03 p.m. CST

    Definition of Motion Capture:

    by CountryBoy

    An incredibly expensive, time-consuming process used to create images that are almost as good as live action. This movie was not worth nine bucks...

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 8:58 p.m. CST

    Did any of you actually listen to the LANGUAGE?

    by Ingeld

    Yes, I listend to the language. The best part of it was when Grendel spoke. He spoke actual Old English. In fact when he returns to his lair after Beowulf pulls off his arm, he is actually reciting the poem in the original. This was the best writing of the entire movie.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 9:14 p.m. CST

    Ingeld -- So that's what the fuck that was!

    by Valin Kenobi

    Makes sense now. I thought they were just trying for some sort of Germanic Gollum-speak and fucked it up. I did notice that the bard narrating the tale during the reenactment in Beowulf's court was reciting in what I assume to be the original Anglo-Saxon.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:13 p.m. CST

    Wow, what a variety of opinions...

    by Captain Dees

    The story was awesome, the story sucked, the animation was awesome, the animation sucked...I've read just about every possible opinion of the film in this talkback. I thought the visuals were pretty cool, but not so much so that it distracted from the story, which I also thought was pretty clever overall, even if some of the supporting characters (the queen) were poorly developed (and rendered). One thing that no one has mentioned from Gaiman/Avary's take on the story is the idea of men breeding with demons in exchange for power. This idea goes back to Merovius, the patriarch of the Merovingian kings of France. According to legend, Merovius' father was a water demon. All the royalty in the world have the blood of the Merovingians in them, including George W. Bush. The Da Vinci Code capitalized on this legend, but changed it so that Merovius was a descendent of Jesus and Mary Magdeline. I prefer the half-demon theory myself to explain 1500 years of monster kings/emperors/presidents. Anyway, I have to believe that the writers must have had this legend in mind when reinterpreting the ancient poem.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:32 p.m. CST

    Also, where was the gore?

    by Captain Dees

    I was surprised by how bloodless the Grendel fights were. (Although Grendel does look scary as hell, as others have said). The bloodiest part of the whole movie was the flashback to the swimming race and Beowulf killing sea monsters. I guess the last-minute trims to get the film down to pg13 forced them to cut out a lot of the blood/gore.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 10:56 p.m. CST


    by Boober

    that was an AWESOME post. I see your point. Good writing is invisible. This is why I simply cannot fully accept Tim Burton outside of full-on fantasy. Everyone raved about the original Batman, and I thought it was one step removed from A-team. Now, bring on the unapologetic REAL heroism.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 11:22 p.m. CST

    Disappointing Movie

    by Akai

    As it's been pointed out numerous times already, the CGI has its strong points in the film, and places where it looks pretty weak. What really disappointed me about it, and this is the case with other largely CG films as well, is how the director uses CG as a license to go crazy with the camera and the action. Wild spinning shots, characters leaping about wildly and getting right up in your face, unnecessary zooms on a screaming Grendel. I know that they made the movie to be shown in 3D, but I think it really detracts from the attempted realism of the CG when they pull cartoony stunts like that. As for the story itself, I'm familiar enough with the original story, and I've always enjoyed it. I really don't like how they've felt the need to deconstruct the characters and dredge up all these flaws in them. Beowulf is a hero, larger than life, kicker of many asses. He should be allowed to be that. Grendel and his mum are unholy beasts from a time before man who resent humanity and wish to prey upon it. I'm sick of Grendel being turned into a sympathetic character...just let him be a monster. And then there's the whole business of turning Christianity into a villain as well. The original story doesn't even mention the religion, being content to attach Christian sensibilities to pagan characters, but in this film it's cast as Christianity that is the destroyer of both monsters and heroes. I'm not going to defend all the rotten things done in the name of any organized religion, but it seems like an odd thing to write into the film.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 11:25 p.m. CST

    That was NOT an awesome post

    by oisin5199

    Sorry, Gaiman's still a genius. He's especially good at writing stories about stories. This whole movie is straight up his alley because it deals with the immortality of storytelling, the tradition of boasts, the difference between heroic feats told in mead halls, and the bloody and complex things that actually happen. REAL heroism is never black and white. If people like their stories to be shallow and simple good guys beating the bad guys because they're, well, good, then you have massive amounts of literature and film for that. This isn't a straight adaptation of the epic myth, but an interpretation of how such myths get created and passed down. I loved this interpretation, especially the implications about Grendel's mother's role in the story (see it, I won't spoil any further). Honour may be the theme in the epic poem, and that makes sense because that's what the story was trying to teach. But perhaps that was also a warning against acting dishonorably, something that may have happened. I liked it that Grendel was pathetic (but scary) here and his death scene was particularly disturbing for that reason. And again, it makes sense that a tale told of this event would turn him into a monster who kills because he likes it. That's what epic storytelling does - it washes away complexity so that people can feel good about their heroes, their country, or their culture. That's not what Gaiman gives us here and I thank him for that. Instead he gives us a story about storytelling. Oh yeah, and the 3D was phenomenal. They do still have to work on women's faces and younger faces. It seemed like the Queen (RWP) became much more realistic looking when she was older and they could add texture lines.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 11:32 p.m. CST

    Christian elements

    by oisin5199

    I liked the subtle nods, mostly in Unferth's character. But the way that tapestry of Christ was up in the mead hall as if it were an exotic relic. That's how Christianity must have seemed back then - this new and strange thing that people didn't quite get, a god to add to the pantheon. Of course, like many depictions of the Arthurian legends, the transition to a 'Christian world' was quite compressed for story purposes. Even though I agree with Beowulf's statement, it's also a metacommentary about Christianity taking away the joy of fantasy (well, at least replacing it with one major fantasy). On the other hand, Christian people from storytelling traditions still found ways to put monsters in their stories - just ask St. Brendan. Anyway, Christianity isn't 'cast' as anything in this film. Beowulf's statement is one man's opinion. Unferth's relation to Christianity in the film is not seen as overtly negative. So I don't think the film is condemning Christianity. That's a bit of a stretch.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 11:45 p.m. CST

    Beowulf in Digital 3-D turned me Gay!

    by xXRedflyXx

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 11:46 p.m. CST

    Oisin, Stories ABOUT Stories are BULLSHIT

    by NoDiggity

    All this "metacommentary" about Christianity ruining fantasy ... it is Gaiman being an outsider to Christianity (being Jewish) and jealously trying to smear it any way he can. Christian Myths are no different from any other myths. The movie implies that Christianity destroyed fantasy? What is Gaiman doing? He sure isn't supporting fantasy with his "meta commentary", he's taking it apart and using it as a bigoted bit of anti-christian propaganda, while not supporting either the Pagan Myth or the Christian Myth. Ironically, the biggests Muth Gaiman likes to inculcate is the Myth of Gaiman the Master Fantastist. We can't believe in Christ, and he doesn't particularly care about the Pagan, except to say how awful it was for Christianity to replace it, so what are we to believe in? In Gaiman, obviously. If we weren't all deluded by Christianity we'd see what a capital little Messiah Gaiman is. Ugh.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 11:51 p.m. CST

    nodiggity, I think you need to check your biases a bit

    by oisin5199

    Easy, killer. You obviously have a mad-on about Gaiman (and I'd be curious to know what you've actually read by him), especially since you're reading WAY too many things into the film that just aren't there. One statement by a flawed character does NOT make it anti-Christian propaganda. You want to know what to believe in? The power of storytelling and for humanity to triumph despite their flaws. I guess intelligent treatments of mythology just aren't your thing.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 11:55 p.m. CST

    Again, Stories about Storytelling ..Bullshit!

    by NoDiggity

    Any writer who writes about stories and storytelling, instead of just telling a good story, have one thing on their mind; THEMSELVES. They are obessessed with the idea of themselves as cleverer than all those other storytellers because they see the "big picture" where none of those OTHER stories and storytellers are to be taken seriously, believed in. Masters of Fantasy and Storytelling who don't, and can't believe in a Fantasy tale, or tell a coherent tale themselves. But they see all other stories and Read Between the Lines because they are such cool, too-cool-to-believe supermen. The British have a word for them; WANKERS, because all their writing, no matter how chock a block full of references to other works of fantasy or fiction they might be, is dead as fantasy itself. Because they can't believe in it. Because they must always be OUTSIDE it, looking in, picking it apart. It's one thing to talk about stories and storytelling as part of the craft of learning to write, but when you are stuck outside, you are a FAILURE as a writer. You are a plagiarist with delusions of grandeur because you announce your borrowings and intrude upon your creation to point at how clever you are for being outside of your own creation.

  • Nov. 18, 2007, 11:58 p.m. CST

    I'm all for "Intelligent Treatments of Mythology"

    by NoDiggity

    In a frigging documentary or sociology tract.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 12:07 a.m. CST

    Again, I don't see any evidence

    by oisin5199

    for what you're saying. You obviously have an opinion about this method of storytelling, but I completely disagree. Looking at how stories are told, how they are changed in the telling, how they are passed down, what the storytelling does to the subject of the stories and to the listeners - all these things speak to us about our culture, our nation, our selves. How can you deal with THE classic epic of Western literature and not confront these issues? Did we really want to see another boring tale with flat, cookie cutter characters who just kill because they're the heroes? No, the best fantasy is complex, where heroes have more than one layer (you know, like real human beings). Otherwise, it's just another video game or a round of D&D. And this kind of work isn't some self-involved egotistical, navel gazing. I just don't see how anyone can look at this film and think Gaiman is somehow celebrating himself. On the contrary, it's a love of the medium, it's a way to hold a mirror to humanity, to celebrate our tendency to narrativize and how we define who we are through stories. I, for one, love the concept of intertextuality, that every story told relates to another story, and the fact that we interpret every story we hear based on our knowledge of prior stories. I know my waxing is as deeply biased as your ranting, but I just wanted to represent the other side.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 12:09 a.m. CST

    The film was okay, but...

    by TheGhostWhoLurks

    Corrupting the story to make Beowulf into a lying horndog and thus "more real" smacked of Bryan Singer's twisting Superman into a whiny, out-of-wedlock father and stalker in Superman Returns. Demeaning heroes in order to make them more "accessible to the masses" usually reflects the writers' own insecurities about measuring up to certain ideals their characters represent.<p>That plus the continuing creepy look of mannequin-looking CGI characters, rather than real actors, made this film less than what it could have been.<p>The 3-D effects, however, were fantastic and I DID enjoy the film, but it was more a cheap thrill than a great movie.<p> I'd much rather it'd been done with a combination of live action and CGI, ala 300, however. It would've been a MUCH stronger piece of filmmaking.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 12:10 a.m. CST


    by oisin5199

    you should look up info about the tradition of boasting in Nordic countries. That's also what much of this is based on. You were judged on how convincing you were about the extravagant stories you told about yourself. The whole point is that these were made up and that there's a tension between the story and the reality. That space of tension is where this adaptation often resides. And I love that, because, like Gaiman, I love storytelling as a medium.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 12:17 a.m. CST

    does anyone really think

    by oisin5199

    that extravagant legends about historical figures really happened exactly as they're told? It's like the bit in Braveheart where Wallace finds out people are telling stories about how he's 12 feet tall. Did Washington really never tell a lie? We know he didn't chop down any cherry tree. Every nation has a mythology to show how great they are, how it is their destiny to be great. Every great warrior had a bard to chronicle their story, embellishing where necessary to make their stories more heroic. And very little has changed with 'heroes' today. What is it about exposing this process that makes people so uncomfortable (as is evidenced by so many comments here)?

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 12:21 a.m. CST

    and, oh yeah

    by oisin5199

    there's no such thing as a 'pure' story that is somehow corrupted. Every story is always already "corrupted."

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 1:01 a.m. CST


    by IMScully33

    Oisin, you might want to re-read the info on boasting in Nordic cultures as well. The whole point of boasting was that it was true. If you were lying, or failed to do what you'd bragged about, you were shamed and outcast. Humility was an unknown concept, but Germanic warriors didn't lie. In the poem, when Beowulf relates the story of the swimming contest, he's boasting but he's setting the record straight. He's proving to Hrothgar and his court that he is who he claims to be. Likewise, when he swears to kill Grendel, he does so while holding the mead cup--it's less a boast and more of a sacred oath. He HAS to do it. It's pretty clear Gaiman didn't understand these nuances when he churned out his script. I have to agree with the comments about him in this thread--I'm a fan, but when it comes to Beowulf and Old English, he knows no more than an average high school English student. It's a shame he didn't pick up some Tolkien before hand, but he clearly thought he was better.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 3:04 a.m. CST


    by eXcommunicated know fuckall about texturing 3D artwork - If you did, you would be in awe of this film as I am. These were not amateurs. These were AAA professionals modeling, texturing, and animating this motion picture. The texture shaders, bump mapping, bloom and HDR aspects were all skillfully applied and the best I've ever seen anywhere. I don't give a fuck if horses weren't animated to your liking. Horse animations were a minuscule part of what we saw on screen. 99% of everything else was pure movie (and artistic) magic. <p> "People who find this sort of fare amazing really don't know much about the animated world." <p> What a fungal cunt who has no idea what he's talking about. Do us all a favor: douche out your cock socket, take administer a whole case of Monistat, and sit the fuck down.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 6:28 a.m. CST

    Oisin, Oisin, Oisin

    by Ingeld

    Don't mean to jump on the bandwagon decrying your post but if you think that "epic storytelling. . . washes away complexity so that people can feel good about their heroes" then you have not read in any analytical way the original poem or any epic for that matter. The epic poem Beowulf is a text layered with various literary, social, spiritual, political, historical and moral concerns that are woven together in a way that is reminiscent of the interlace style characteristic of Anglo-Saxon art. It is not some king of feel good, political propaganda. What has been washed away in this movie is the greatest portion of these complex concerns in favor of simple self indulgent ones that do not appear in the original text. It always amazes me that screenplay writers will not allow the themes and characters that made great literature great be the ones that are central to a movie adaptation. To think that modern movie goers cannot understand or appreciate these themes, and therefore they must be adapted for a modern audience is an insult.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 7:12 a.m. CST

    Great Comeback eXcommunicated

    by Madines Sideshed

    One of the best I've seen in a while. Saltoner will now be quiet if he knows what's good for him. Just thought I'd post to say that.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 9:52 a.m. CST

    Beowulf had no penis . . .

    by gruntybear

    Nor any body hair for that matter. All that detail paid to the scruff of those Old English chins and still their chests look like Barbie's depilated Ken. I'm less concerned by the "dead-eye" syndrome that seems inevitable in realistic computer animation, than I am with the 18th Century attitudes towards the depiction of adult genitalia. Is America still so frightened of the penis that it cannot bear to see it even as a background aftereffect in a nude monster wrestling match? I mean, come the fuck on, the ridiculous lengths that the animators went to hide Beowulf's dick just took me completely out of the tale. Why can we linger for a good 60 seconds on Jolie's metallic naughty bits, but not even once see the gonads of the mighty male hero? For a tale so obviously soaked in pure testosterone, it's fairly telling that it was so literally dickless. If, as certain members of the board are indicating, the film was sliced down from an "R" to a "PG-13" to make nice for the prospective kiddies - FUCK THAT. Not every goddamned film needs to be safe for the 5 year-olds. If you're going to give us an "adult" animated film, then don't skimp on the adult.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 9:57 a.m. CST

    can't wait for 3d!

    by ironic_name

    imax on wednesday!

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 10:01 a.m. CST

    "he slimed me"

    by ironic_name

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 10:02 a.m. CST

    oh wait, i thought this was the ghostbusters tb

    by ironic_name

    "its true your honor, beowulf has no dick"

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 10:03 a.m. CST


    by ironic_name

    sorry gruntybear.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 10:32 a.m. CST


    by ScaryJim

    I applaud your post, thousands of children are wondering why their dad doesn't have a goblet for a dick, like Beowulf does. For that Zemeckis should be ashamed. Don't fear the penis Zemeckis!

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 10:33 a.m. CST

    Oisin, the problem is evident in the way you express yourself

    by NoDiggity

    "I, for one, love the concept of intertextuality, that every story told relates to another story, and the fact that we interpret every story we hear based on our knowledge of prior stories. I know my waxing is as deeply biased as your ranting, but I just wanted to represent the other side." See, again, your emphasis is on "I" and "We", not the story. YOU love "interetextuality" where you are drifting away from the illusion of reality the particular story creates and relating it to other stories, instead of focusing on what THIS tale wants to tell you. "WE interpret every story we hear based on our knowledge of past stories" again, the focus is on US, not the story, on OUR power over the story, and I've heard this from the postmodern crowd too often, how they find their own navel-gazing about the story to be more "interesting" than actually paying attention to what the real story is telling them. There's no interest in REAL history from such a crowd, in reality outside their own noodling about it. It's all about THEM, and THEIR unique interpretation. Sure, it magnanimously extends this power to everyone else, but you know they secretly suspect their own interpretation is more elegant, more clever than anyone else's, which is the reason that they prefer to focus on this than becomin fascinated, in a scholarly way, in what the original storytellers were trying to say, more accurately. Why a lack of interest in the original storytellers? Because it takes attention away from them. ME ME ME, look at ME and MY unique INTERPRETATION. Anti-fantasy, anti-wonder, Wanking.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 10:54 a.m. CST

    And my point about Gaiman vs. Christianity ...

    by NoDiggity

    ... is not that it's out and out bashing Christianity, as it is devaluing it as a story by placing it side by side with other stories, and from an arch, above-it-all point of view, pointing at them, side by side, and saying "See? They are all JUST stories". The film "Mermaids" did this as well, having the Winona Ryder character obsessed with Christianity at the beginning of the film, and then switching to Greek Myths by the end of the film, and the point was that neither myth needed to be taken seriously, to the benefit of the default religion of the character (which wasn't Christian, and whew, what a relief she gave up Christianity and moved on to the equally silly Greek myths!). Gaiman is, very likely, even if it's only on a subconscious level, reducing all myths to equal status so that he can feel safe from and above those myths, to protect his own ego, or protect the unstated Myths that he was brought up with, that are in conflict with those other myths he's devaluing. And by devaluing, I mean simplifying in the quest to put them all at an equal, homogenized level, where none of them can be taken as seriously. Joseph Campbell did a similar thing ... he had a particular set of myths he loved ... the Native American Myths, and he hated Christianity because people from Christian cultures wiped out the Native Americans and their myths. But his "all myths are the same" schtick misinterpreted Chrisitan myths in order to make them "all the same" as every other. None of those myths have any power if they are believed in as forms of "archetypes", tossing aside the differences that make them REAL to the people who believe in them. When you rob a myth of it's power of REALITY, you are attacking it, whether you realize it or not.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 10:56 a.m. CST

    No Diggity

    by ScaryJim

    Beowulf was shite, agreed. But read Sandman if you seriously think Gaiman has no talent. Novel wise his stuff isn't really too serious, definitely nothing you could really take apart and theorise over, it's just not that style of writing, he's no Murakami. I don't think Beowulf was anti wonder, and if anything it didn't differ from the original prose enough for me to even think anyone deserved a screenwriters credit. It was simply a pile of cack.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 11:13 a.m. CST

    Scary Jim, Thanks.

    by NoDiggity

    I'm probably taking it all too seriously.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 12:15 p.m. CST

    I actually agree with a lot of you...

    by TheWestfallStories

    youre normally all mostly negative bitches who focus on the wrong parts of movies, but for once i side with you. at first sight of this movie, i was doubtful, after looking at reviews i was hopeful, after watching i was left empty like i presume a girl feels after prom night when someone whispers pretty things in ur air so you have sex with them and it looks so cool and feels good for a minute but at the end youre alone and sad and wished it had been more. that was a long run on but i think i got my point across. fuck BEYO WOWF

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 12:15 p.m. CST


    by Saltoner

    Maybe the reason the animation sucked so bad was because people like this idiot are so mad. Calm down dude. If you can honestly say this sort of 3D animation is better than The Incedibles, then do us all a favor and get out of the industry. I've been working in animation for over a decade now, I have a right to not like it. Sheesh!

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 12:45 p.m. CST

    I'd say yes

    by StrikeAnywhere

    When you start to theorize on what Gaiman is thinking on a subconscious level then yeah i'd say you're taking things too seriously.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 1:16 p.m. CST


    by Captain Dees

    The Incredibles was attempting to look like a cartoon. Beowulf was attempting to look like live action. The former completely succeeded at its relatively modest goal, the other mostly succeeded at its mind-bogglingly ambitious goal, and in the process broke new ground for motion pictures to come. Put things in perspective, dude.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 1:48 p.m. CST

    StriekAnywhere, I guess we are forgetting about Zemeckis.

    by NoDiggity

    And whatever personal stamp he brings to it.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 1:56 p.m. CST

    "devaluing it as a story by placing it side by side with other s

    by oisin5199

    See this is what I've never understood. The only way this is a devaluation is if you are following a strictly Christian theological point of view that posits the Christian story as 'truth' above all other stories that must be 'myths' - read: false. To me, 'placing it side by side' is what contextualizes Christianity, giving us a broader sense where this all fits in the West's cultural history. Otherwise, you're treating Christianity as this ahistorical, sui generis 'truth' from on high with no sense of historical or cultural context. When I took religion classes back in the day, the idea that there was a real human process in creating the stories (the movement from oral tradition to canonicity) made the New Testament WAAY more interesting than if it was just 'the word of God.' To me, the idea that these stories changed through time (things added and things taken away)and that there was an agenda behind the inclusion of particular stories in in the New Testament, makes the religion far more alive and interesting, rather than a dead document. Again, stories are not 'pure' - they are rewritten every time somebody new tells them. This is the essence of oral tradition - and it's the acknowledgement of this process that informs this interpretation of Beowulf. This also reminds me of Umberto Eco's classic novel, Foucault's Pendulum, in which the characters compare the Rosicrucian story to an imagined story of how the Gospels were created. This may be all too 'postmodern' for some people, but as gotlik's articulate post says, we can't blind ourselves to our times. These are the same reasons Alan Moore deconstructed the superhero myth in Watchmen. But what I don't get about the hate here is that Beowulf still came off as the larger than life hero who sacrificed himself for his people through incredibly over the top heroic deeds. So you got the old conventions intact. We can have it both ways. What's the problem? Why this conservative fear over a hero's fallibility? Is it that we no longer have any real heroes to believe in and we can't possibly allow for the notion of a flawed hero in this day and age? It's just too scary, I guess.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 2:02 p.m. CST

    Captain Dees

    by Saltoner

    If you want something to look like reality, just do it live action. Anything else is just silly and a complete waste. If this movie used real actors and digital backdrops, like Sin City or 300, it might have been a lot better. Or if they stylized the characters, like The Incredibles, or certain video games, made it a hard R rating, then it would have been ground breaking. No new ground was broken on this film. Mocap has been around for a long time. It's a fancy way of saying rotoscope. Now I know many people are going to try and flex their vast knowledge about how different mocap is to rotoscope, but I don't care. I'm done with this Beowulf movie. I'm not wasting anymore time with angry, pissed off people who think it's the greatest thing to grace the big screen since The Polar Express. Heh. Be good people.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 2:06 p.m. CST

    also, this is nothing new

    by oisin5199

    the notion of the 'truth behind the myth' has been going on for quite some time. It's not like this new, rebellious thing that Gaiman's pulled out of his ass. I also think of Morgan Llewellyn's great fantasy novels from the 80s and 90s that dealt with Celtic heroes from the epics, like Cuchulain, Finn MacCool and Brian Boru. She did very similar things by showing how certain stories came to be through extravagant interpretations of real events in the heroes' lives. Also, the original Beowulf may have many subtle layers as oral tradition and literature, but remember they're trying to make a box office success with a big popcorn movie. The average viewer is not familiar with the poem, but they are familiar with heroic conventions, enough that the conventions could be challenged. Frankly, I feel this movie was far more interesting and intelligent than 300, a film that worked on a whole different level and does carry all those simplistic messages that people here seem to be looking for. I liked that one, too, but for vastly different reasons.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 2:58 p.m. CST

    Point taken, Saltoner

    by Captain Dees

    And I'm not pissed off, I promise. And yes, rotoscoping is nothing new. But if they are ever able to create movies using this technology that look 100% real, that would give filmmakers the freedom to create pretty much any type of effect imaginable. And if/when movies do reach that point, this film would have to be seen as a stepping stone, dont you think?

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 4:07 p.m. CST

    Oisin, I wish I had time to deconstruct your posts

    by Ingeld

    but one of the problems that I have with this movie is that it sucks the thematic life out of the original as if it thinks it knows better than the poet what the story should be about. The one thing that myth does and does very well, be it Christian or other, is present the existence of evil as a very real threat that needs to be overcome. This movie version nods to that only in the existence of a Grendel's mother as a demon and suggests the erroniously that Christianty somehow eliminated the mythic hero. Nothing could be further for the truth. The poem of Beowulf is the call for human beings to take a human role in the mythic battle against evil. The problem with the movie and IMHO the problem with society is that in our relativistic age we do not believe that evil exists in any real way beyond ourselves. The movie adopts this idea by turning real demons into personal demons and in doing so turned epic into tragedy. Don't get me wrong I love tragedy but I also love myth and legend. And yes, indeed, the world is a scary place because of evil. This is precisely why we do, in fact, need heroes and myth--real ones and literary ones that we can marvel at and strive to emulate. Of course the post-modern world thumbs its nose at the reality of evil and consequently at the real need for a hero. They are, after all, are mere ideological constructs designed by a dominant social hierarchy wishing to maintain its hegimony over the . . . [insert post modern ego inflating diatribe] I will try to remember all of that, or course, the next time I read about the rape rooms of Saddam Hussein and the ovens of Auschwitz. Wes thu hal!

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 6:29 p.m. CST

    interesting post Ingeld

    by oisin5199

    I guess, due to my particular spiritual beliefs, I DO believe external evil exists but it's also always a reflection of internal evil. Look at your Hussein example. Evil? Probably. Not to get too political, but he was also a US creation. Time after time, dictators the US government set up come back to bite us in the ass. Noriega, Hussein, hell, bin Laden. It's an extended metaphor, but this Beowulf story is definitely about 'the sins of the fathers' and how leadership is often predicated upon deals with the devil. I know people will groan at this, but the interpretation does seem very post 9-11. I have more to say, but I gotta catch a train. More later.

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 8:40 p.m. CST

    Does it make me gay...

    by Obscura

    ...that i started to wish they had just shown his cock instead of hiding it in a series of hilariously convenient ways? the frickin Simpson's movie did! And yes they did mocap horses in lord of the rings. its entirely possible, they just didnt do it for this. it was quite obvious, specifially when they're charging down the hill chasing after the dragon. as wooden as a present from the Trojans...

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 9:37 p.m. CST


    by Ingeld

    Dictators like Hussein may rise and fall due to the political influence of US policy and "nation building," but the rape rooms, the torture, the delight in the suffering of others-- that's pure Hussein and that's pure evil. Enjoy your train ride--home for Thanksgiving? Wes thu hal!

  • Nov. 19, 2007, 9:47 p.m. CST

    Obscura's latent fascination with the homoerotic

    by Ingeld

    The evidence. 1) any reference to Lord of the Rings "Coming Mr. Frodo! 2) use of animal imagery associated with phallicism--cock, dragon (lizard) and charging horses once connected to Trojans--condoms--as done here. 3) Finally, the expressed wish to see a muscle bound viking's unit. Naaaah. Just kidding Obscura, you're not gay--not that there is anything wrong with it.

  • Nov. 20, 2007, 4:32 p.m. CST

    a final ramble (I think)

    by oisin5199

    Look at Lord of the Rings: Even though Sauron was without a doubt a real, existing evil, the whole point of the books (well, at least the point that the movies emphasized the most) is that even the most seemingly innocent creatures (Hobbits) are corruptible when faced with the power of the Ring, that the ring always showed a person's distorted reflection, like the evil troll version of Bilbo. Maybe this is a postmodern thing as well, but look at most superhero narratives since the 80s (in some cases, even before) - the 'Killing Joke' notion that the Joker is the distorted reflection of Batman (or is it the other way around), or Morrison's take on Arkham Asylum. In many fantasy narratives, power is often associated with a deal with the devil. Though the template is obviously Faust, modern narratives often have this, especially in fantasy and comics: from Witchblade to John Constantine , the Slayer to Ghost Rider, even heroes have to reach into the dark to be heroic. Or the ancient notion that even the most honorable kings had to make bloody sacrifices to the gods to maintain peace in their kingdom, as Beowulf did here. To be honest, it's been since college that I've read the poem, and I want to revisit it, as well as Tolkien's famous essay on it, but I thoroughly enjoyed THIS version of the story. But again, I disagree with most people here who think the storyteller needs to be invisible and must leave the story completely unscathed by his or her own sensibility or culture or time. Every storyteller changes the story, and we read/hear it differently depending on what culture we're coming from, what time period, and what our own background is. And I think that this idea is embedded within the narrative of the film itself, which is brilliant. A lot of the naysayers here seem to really want their stories and their heroes pure and uncorrupted, supporting an impossible (and I think, dangerous) ideal. 300 went this route, and although I enjoyed it for what it was, it wasn't difficult to see the cultural imperialism, racism, jingoism, patriotism, homophobia (ironically mixed with homoeroticism), and hypermasculinity embedded in that film (makes me wonder if Zak Snyder is ready to critique all those things in his version of Watchmen. Moore certainly did in the book). These observations aren't criticisms, but to point out how different the ideas were from Beowulf (to be fair, some of the same stuff IS in Beowulf, but it's presented differently and even critiqued and questioned to a certain degree, whereas 300 did nothing but celebrate it). <p> Anyway, back to the 'purity' of the story, I always thought it ridiculous that so many people complained about Singer 'changing' Superman, when there's been so many countless different versions of him since the 30's, all changed by whoever was writing or drawing him. Stories must evolve, they must change as the times change. Of course, as fans and readers, people can certainly have their preferences about various incarnations - there's nothing wrong with that. But I think it's problematic to criticize a storyteller simply because they changed the story, or more accurately, framed it differently. <p> One more unrelated point that I never finished addressing. I still disagree that the film as a whole is disparaging of Christianity. Despite Beowulf's one comment, I felt like it was pretty neutral on the subject, even presenting it as a positive for certain folk, like Unferth - I agree with Harry that he's not a villain, but someone of a different character and role than a warrior. I believe his apology to Beowulf in the middle of the film is sincere and that his faith was a refuge for him in the midst of the kingdom's turmoil. If anything, Beowulf's comment is about a cultural shift rather than a religious one, very similar to how many versions of the Arthurian legends depict the transition from Paganism to Christianity in a shorthand way, as a nostalgic comment about the loss of magic and fantasy. Again, looking at how legends are interpreted differently in different time periods, we have to recognize that later storytellers were reading and telling these legends through the eyes of the Enlightenment (or Counter-Enlightenment as the case may be), so the lament of the loss of magic is also a skepticism about the new worship of rationalism and positivism. Ok, I think I've said all I can on this subject at this point. Even though, I've represented a minority opinion, it was nice to have a rare rational discussion about a very interesting topic here, without needless insults and name calling. Now it's back to grading papers.

  • Nov. 20, 2007, 10:56 p.m. CST

    Oisin: Thanks for the Dissertation ;-)

    by Ingeld

    I would first like to agree about the enjoyable discussion and give and take. What fun would life be if we all agreed?! In regard to the LOTR, the ring was evil and tempted men, what made the Hobbits heroic was that they suffered from the effects of its evil without necessarily succumbing to its temptations. That is why they are called by the destiny to face off against the evil to destroy it. While Frodo ultimately fails at Mount Doom and is seduced by the ring--interestingly not so much because of what he wishes to do with it but by simply by a desire to possess the ring--his quest is not about dealing with his personal demons. That was Boromir's literary function. If Peter Jackson did to TLOTRs what Zemeckis and Gaiman did to Beowulf, then Boromir would have subsumed the role of Aragorn. Saruman would have subsumed the role of Gandalf. Tolkien's work presents individuals who succumb to evil and ones who don't. The ones who don't become the heroes, for in Tolkien's world and the world of the poem Beowulf, the act of not choosing evil, however, is not necessarily what vanquishes it or makes it impotent. Resisting evil is not enough. One final word, I am not unfamiliar with the poem Beowulf (litotes). One of the fascinating cruxes of the poem is in regard to Unferth. Does he hand off Hrunting to the hero in an act of good faith and reconciliation, or is he aware that it will fail Beowulf in the battle with Grendel's mother and this is what he is hoping for? Enjoy your papers. I've been working on the whaleroad all the live long day!