Wednesday, 5 December 2007

The Beowulf Club

Aloha all and Happy Chanukkah everyone! Since I haven't posted much in a while, and I know that some people tend to post papers and stuff on here, I'm going to post a recent review that I made on Beowulf the movie [Warning, if you liked the movie to a strong degree or simply a normal degree, DON'T READ THIS. I didn't like it, and I feel that there are better movies out there. Also, If you hate a little bit of scrappy English, I'd recommend ye not read this either as it gets choppy in certain parts.]

I recently received the opportunity this Saturday to waste a full two hours of my busy day. What gave me this pleasure, you may ask? Beowulf, the 2007 edition. I guess just telling you that the movie stunk isn’t good enough, so let me give you my gist of the thing first. Beowulf consisted of one of the most forced amalgamations of poor writing, “Hollywood-izing” of a book, and brilliant 3D animation this reviewer has ever seen.

Beowulf is based on the epic poem of the same name and revolves around the egotistical main character, Beowulf. The condensed form of the story is: man cheats on wife with demon, gets cursed, becomes king, and later gets drunk, drunken merriment angers illegitimate demon child, child attacks, kills, and destroys, Mr. Ego comes, shouts his name a bit, kills illegitimate child, more shouting, repeat steps one through four, another illegitimate child is born[this time a dragon], name shouting again, dragon’s death, finally the ultimate end to the shouting as Mr. Ego gets permanently silenced, and then nothing. The ending was near senseless, pathetic, and a definite let down. Seriously, what better way is there to end a movie than by having the title character kill himself and putting his best friend face-to-face with his demon lover [note the sarcasm]?

Before I get into the actual movie, let me first mention what was good about it. The 3D was indeed superb, and no doubts the best that I’ve seen in a while. The end. That was the only good aspect about it. The 3D would honestly be the only reason one should watch this movie, and even it was drawn out tighter than a bridge cable by the time the movie was over. The stereotypical events where it was apparent that Zemeckis wanted to show off the revolutionary 3D where the obvious spear “comes” out of the screen along with the other annoying attempts to say, “Hey we have pretty 3D animation,” got so annoying that by the third time it happened, I considered doing what exactly one fourth of the audience did after the first ten to twenty minutes, and leave.

Since I’ve already started with the negative points of the movie, I’ll continue. Beowulf as a piece of art was generally good, but as a cinematic piece, Beowulf came up rather short. The movie itself somewhat reminded me of one of those toys we play with as a child where the square blocks go into the square holes, the circle blocks go into the circle holes, etc. The movie, however, seemed like the game with only square blocks with circle holes. The movie as a whole seemed rather forced as if Zemeckis was trying to “dumb down” the poem for the least attentive of the audience. If this was the case, I believe he hit the target, and kept going a few hundred kilometres. The movie was filled with yelling, and though I understand that the characters are Vikings and thus expected to yell, I believe they brought that screaming to too high of a degree. Beowulf’s own love of himself, also expected, seemed to go a bit too far as well as almost every other five minutes, he was shouting his own name, like the audience had fallen asleep and apparently forgotten who he was.

Before I end, I’d also like to make a couple of statements about the more controversial issues of the movie. The “pornography” that many people talked about was less porn and more of an annoyance. I mean if someone really had a fetish for Barbie dolls and/or gold paint, then yes, it would definitely be pornographic, but to those who are mature enough to understand that she’s a demon, it’s all computer animated, and it wasn’t meant to arouse, there shouldn’t be any problem. The partial nudity that got on my nerves the most was Beowulf’s rather than Grendel’s mother’s, and it surprised me how they censor Beowulf every chance they get to the point where you can predict the times that a “hidden” “area” censor will come up, whereas with Grendel’s mother, the censors could care less about coming up and the gold whatever liquid quickly drips off as if Zimeckis wanted to cause an uproar. As for the off-hand references to Christianity, I noted them pretty soon when we are confronted with someone sharing Christianity at what is essentially a urinal at the beginning. The second blast came when the essential village idiot of the movie, Unferth, becomes the village’s only monk. It makes one wonder, should religious zealots really focus on movies such as The Golden Compass when movies such as this insult Christianity more blatantly?

In the end, I’d definitely say that I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone except to maybe 3D animators, and even then, I’d only tell them to do it if they had some money they really wanted to waste, though burning it would be quicker and a lot more fun. I wouldn’t send my senior class to see it because of the sheer quality of the movie’s direction, its hopeful discontinuity with the book, and the fact that I’d doubt most of the people are mature enough to get through it without laughing their heads off or saying “Ewww,” every chance they got. The movie itself didn’t give me the feeling that I had watched something dirty, so I doubt that I’d consider it pornographic or bad in that sense, but in the end, it was simply a waste of money and time, though I did score some extra credit for it. The movie itself was decent, but for those who have grown up with good movies with full, well defined plots and at least decent artistic design, watching Beowulf will feel like a punch in the gut. Now don’t get me wrong, it’ll be a pretty, well-exectuted punch in the gut, but at the end of the day you’ll still be walking funny.

Yes dear Zero Punctuation fans, I did get a couple quotes from dear old Yahtzee [or at least modded them] and for the whiners about my little stab [not really a stab but like a friendly nudge] at The Golden Compass, might I say, I could care less about the "Atheistic" parts of it, or at least I'll determine whether I care about that after the movie. I'm going against a couple of my teacher's wishes by watching it, but I could kinda care less. Enjoy my scratchy, a bit angry review. Jya Ne.


katekalb said...

My first question is this: You have read Beowulf, right? Because we're talking about Anglo-Saxons, not Vikings...there is a difference. ;) As far as the "insults to Chritianity" go...hmm. Personally, I find the obvious (and often forced) application of Chritian themes to what was originally a pagan epic pretty fascinating.

I love the books in the His Dark Materials trilogy, and I went to see the movie today. I know you go to a Chritian school, so attitudes are different, but your teachers strike me as narrow-minded. What do you mean, they wouldn't want you to see it? Outrage. I was exposed to the books for the first time in school, so I guess a school against The Golden Compass confounds me a bit.

katekalb said...