700 A.D. is now 21st Century American 3-D. It’s a hell of a transformation.
As a would-be litterateur, I should be aghast at what has become of Beowulf, which was once the bane of English majors. At least some of us. But as a film fan, I admire the movie. It’s a lot more fun.
There are three versions of Beowulf. There’s the I-MAX 3-D version, the non-I-MAX 3-D version, and the regular 2-D version.
Beowulf is an amusement park of a movie. But the regular 2-D version is just a ride on the merry-go-round. The 3-D version — the one you must
see if you see the film — is a wild roller coaster ride.
I saw Beowulf at a ravemotionpictures theater, part of a chain recently emanating from Texas. It was DLP (Digital Light Processing) projection. There is one Rave theater complex in Arkansas, but only in Little
Beowulf is the tale of a hero (Ray Winstone) who comes to help Danish king Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins), whose kingdom and mead hall have been assaulted by the vicious dragon Grendel.
Beowulf defeats Grendel. After Beowulf declares mission accomplished, he meets Grendel’s mother (Angelina Jolie), who is seductive and dangerous, and she enthralls and curses him. The corrupted hero fights to regain his lost
decency. This leads to an ultimate battle.
Beowulf has a lot of depth of image, but not much
depth of thought. However, director Robert Zemeckis
and screen-writers Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary seem
dedicated to having a good time.
Their dialogue is campy — “I am ripper, tearer,
gouger. I am Beowulf!” And some of the scenes are over
the top. The scenes in the mead hall, led by the randy
king, are like a frat party.
But there’s visual wonder in Beowulf. The 3-D
effects often are brilliant. Sparks fly, coins roll
into the audience, spears are thrust, splashes come
off the screen — mead spills, dragon’s saliva drips,
rain courses, buckets of water are thrown, bubbles in
the sea percolate and blood gushes.
There are tour de force sequences, such as when
Wycliff (Brendan Gleeson) gallops across a burning
bridge. The climactic encounter between Beowulf and a
dragon is spectacular.
Beowulf is a visual classic comic. It’s not serious
literture. It’s pop culture pulp. But the 3-D gives it
style and panache.
Director Zemeckis did the logy The Polar Express
(2004). He has improved his style vastly. The Polar
Exprss was a sober Christmas tale; Beowulf has more
vitality. Fortunately Zemeckis doesn’t fall in love
with his effects. His battle scenes are not seemingly
endless, as they were in the epic The Lord of the
Zemeckis’s animation uses the images of
recognizable actors and their actual voices. Roy
Winston is able as Beowulf, and Anthony Hopkins is the
raucous king. Robin Penn Wright is the queen both men
love. Unrecognizable Crispin Glover is the repulsive
The movie Beowulf is enticing. I went to a movie, and a video game broke out. It was a game I had a great time playing.