In a story told long ago, there was a hero that was scared of no man nor beast. He would never back down from a challenge and would step forward whenever he was needed no matter what consequences the situation may bring. This man would sacrifice every ounce of his life to protect even those of which he did not know. Yet that sacrifice would never be necessary for he would persevere by any means necessary. The man was known as warrior. The man was known as visionary. The man was known…as Beowulf.
King Hrothgar and his Queen were desperate and in need of great help. A hideous deformed monster known as Grendel would appear at night and kill off his kingdom’s people without even so much as a second thought. Knowing of the legend, they call upon Beowulf to destroy the beast and save the kingdom. Never one to back down from a challenge and never one to think he would lose, Beowulf accepts and vows to return peace to the kingdom by disposing of Grendel.
Yet Beowulf would find this task one of his most challenging ever. Along with saving the kingdom from Grendel, Beowulf would now have to also contend with his mother. But Grendel’s mother does not appear like her son or even fight like him. She attacks with her beauty and seduction that can draw heroes to their deaths. Beowulf would have to fight through the temptation along with many other factors that would alter his life forever.
Now I enjoy some good fantasy films. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. All the Harry Potter films and books. There are countless films dealing with fantasy and literature that I’ve truly enjoyed, but this wasn’t really one of them. It’s kind of hard to place my finger on what exactly didn’t do it for me in Beowulf, but perhaps it was how much it strayed from the original poem. Perhaps some of you didn’t have to read it in high school, but I did and ended up enjoying it thoroughly. Going into the film, it was already obvious that some things would need to be changed while others were added and subtracted. Still, it failed to get the point across.
It was exciting without the shadow of a doubt. The film is absolutely gorgeous in the way it is presented with the animations being flawlessly executed. Some of the battles simply blew me away with how intense and well done they all were. You’ll find it difficult to find a better cast of actors then those that appeared in the film, and even though you weren’t really watching their physical persons; you could still see and hear the talent shining through. All those qualities make Beowulf a film that can be enjoyed by any and everyone. It just still wasn’t for me.
Some of the alterations made to the original story added a lot, but also took away far too much. Things were flowing along smoothly and then all of a sudden you can just tell where the writers veered off from the literature and decided to make it what they believed wanted to be seen by the audience. To those who have never read the poem and know nothing of it, then expect a fantastic film that will keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat at all times. For those who love the poem and are a little biased such as myself, prepare for half excitement and half disappointment.
The film is shown in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it looks absolutely stunning. The performance-capture animation looks almost flawless and the colors shine through beautifully while the darks and blacks bring about feelings of dread and despair. One thing is certain here and that is Robert Zemeckis intended on making this a gorgeous film and he succeeded there.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it also makes for another enjoyable aspect to Beowulf. All the music and dialogue can be heard clearly while the sound effects, explosions, and even small things like arrows cutting through the air are easily heard and deciphered.
Deleted Scenes – Six deleted scenes are included on this DVD and they are all shown in rough animation sequences so it is kind of hard to get a full idea of how they would have fit into the film. Still fun to watch though.
A Hero’s Journey: The Making Of Beowulf – “This is not the Beowulf you were forced to read in junior high school; this is all about eating, drinking, killing, and fornicating.” Seriously, that’s what they said here, and I believe it. This twenty-four minute feature is going to show you everything behind the scenes from script reading to studying storyboards to the actors and animals with the spandex and dots all over them for the cool performance-capture animation look the film has. Kind of hard-nosed and interesting.
Beast Of Burden: Designing The Creatures Of Beowulf – Here is a really cool, but short, seven minute feature discussing Grendel, Grendel’s Mother, Dragon, and the Sea Monster. All the creatures/monsters from the film are talked about separately as to how they came to creation and what elements of modern day life were used in their inception.
Creating The Ultimate Beowulf – Producers, directors, actors, and more sit down to talk about how the true and distinct character of Beowulf could be designed. It is a very short segment clocking in at only two minutes long, but it still tells a cool story as to how it all began.
The Art Of Beowulf – There is no way to tell a fantasy film today without using the technology available to make the best possible fantasy world imaginable. It is a fantasy world that is eons old but must be created with a modern twist to keep a modern-day audience’s attention to detail and make it all that much finer. This five and a half minute feature shows concept art, character sketches, and much more.
The Origins Of Beowulf – Writer Neil Gaiman and director Robert Zemeckis know that this story about a hero fighting the evils that lurk in the shadows has been told for centuries, but Beowulf goes back centuries and can even be seen in such stories as The Lord Of The Rings. A cool shot shows some of the cast members in full performance-capture outfits reading the novels and cliff notes to get a better idea of how their parts should be played. This feature last five minutes and thirteen seconds.
Trailers – Iron Man, Shine a Light, and The Kite Runner
The theatrical version of Beowulf is something I’ve never seen so asking me explain what was added by this “director’s cut” edition is pointless because I don’t know. There were plenty of fierce battles along with blood and all that great stuff, but the story really got under my skin and took the score of the film way down. For those of you that love special features though, then you’re looking at the right DVD for them. When added up; they only combine to about an hour’s worth of extra material but they are all extraordinarily enjoyable. It isn’t often you find a DVD where all the special features were interesting enough to watch all the way through. Now if only the film had managed to succeed in that same respect; then this DVD’s score could have possibly gone through the roof. If you’re a nonconformist, then you can have fun and scream “I Am Beowulf!” with Winstone when that part comes along. People like me can sit back, enjoy it for a little while, and then scream “I Am…bored!”
Paramount presents Beowulf: Director’s Cut. Directed by: Robert Zemeckis. Starring: Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, John Malkovich, Crispin Glover, Brendan Gleeson, Alison Lohman, Angelina Jolie. Written by: Neil Gaiman and Roger Avery. Running time: 114 minutes. Rating: Unrated. Released on DVD: February 26, 2008. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Paramount Pictures