Anthony's Film Review
2007 update to a classic epic poem is a decent but still entertaining adaptation...
Beowulf is one of those movies where the first part of the film gives a somewhat false impression about what the rest of the film is like. You see warriors celebrating in a mead hall in 6th century Denmark, and there is a sense of a barbaric culture. There's no real plot here just yet. In fact, even the dialogue for the first thirty minutes is somewhat amateurish. But again, this doesn't represent the rest of the film.
Soon, these folk are attacked by Grendel, a hideous giant of a monstrosity who could rip a man into pieces. Naturally, these people need a hero, and as if brought down by the gods, the warrior Beowulf arrives to slay this monster. There is an interesting scene with Beowulf fighting some sea monsters, showcasing the additional special effects of this fantasy tale.
Grendel retreats to his cave after being defeated by Beowulf. As the original tale goes, there is also Grendel's mother (Angelina Jolie). At this point, there is almost a sense of pity for the creature. It looks human enough to have qualities like ours. You might even ask whether this creature was once was a man in an earlier time. That leads to another question. Who is the real monster here? Grendel or Beowulf? And it is this part of the tale that sets the stage for the rest of the story. What is about to unfold is sort of a moral tale.
Of course, it is also a fantasy action film with plenty of scenes. The action and special effects are not overdone in quality or quantity. It's enough to make the movie watchable. Speaking of special effects, the visuals are worth noting. The first few shots made me wonder if the movie was live action or computer animated. Then I remembered. It was filmed in live action but altered to achieve a mild CGI look. As a result, the faces of the characters seem to shift slightly between ordinary film and CGI that is 98% close to live action. I think it works well for a historical/fantasy setting like this one.
Even though Beowulf is a tale that was bound to have an adaptation like this one, it didn't feel like anything new. It also didn't feel like a true epic even with a running time of nearly two hours. But that's OK. The story is your typical motif of three acts, and the main character is one who has his flaws despite his might and glory. So yes, I liked the story. Although I can't really thank the original storyteller for conceiving it since he, assuming it's a he, remains anonymous to this day, I'm sure he felt satisfied that it could be told again and again for centuries to come.
For more information about Beowulf, visit the Internet Movie Database.