Sunday, November 25, 2007


The epic poem you tried to avoid reading in high school, "Beowulf" has now been adapted again for the screen, only this time director Robert Zemekis chose to use 3-D computer animation to tell the tale.

Okay, so I like to pretend I'm a writer, and yet I see that my sister the supposed non-writer of the Benson sisters is completely pwning me in the witty and biting reviews she's writing. I'm not sure I can compete on this turf.

Still, I'll give it my best shot, and I've got quite a shot to take at "Beowulf."

First, let's establish some "dos and don'ts" for animated action films:


Give all of your male characters six-pack abs.


Mimic Austin Powers films by playing "hide the sausage" behind candles, helmets and whatever else can conveniently cover the exposed nether-regions of aforementioned 6-pack ab carrying heroes.


Give a rousing and stirring battle cry. Example: 300 had "This. Is. Sparta!"


Try to rally people by constantly announcing yourself. Example: "I. Am. BEOWULF!" It makes you sound totally egocentric and lame. Seriously, you're one step away from someone mocking you "ooh, look at me, I'm Beowulf, y'all, aren't I awesome?"


Present characters and vistas which we could only imagine and can only now be created in some lifelike manner by computer animation.


Try to use 3-D to the point of annoyance. Yes, I can tell I'm watching a 3-D film because I'm wearing stupid glasses. I don't need your movie pointing spears at me to scream out "look! I'm in 3-D! Here's a spear!"

So, now that we have those little rules out of the way, what's left to say?

Um, Neil Gaiman and Roger Avery, I really really like you guys. Really. But maybe we didn't read the same poem.

Grendel is a troll (and Crispin Glover was good voice casting). Last I checked there is no mention of who Grendel's father is. And I know you were going for this "vicious circle, sins of the father" thing, but honestly, it felt shoehorned in to me.

Beowulf is a flat out hero. Period, end of story. He is not some flawed human character...certainly not in the literature. I know it's very en vogue to paint all heroes as flawed and somewhat more human than previously portrayed (see new wimpy-Superman and loser-Cyclops for reference), but seriously, Beowulf's only flaw is he likes to brag about himself. And what kind of flaw is that if you are a badass who kills monsters and rips off arms?

So, no more of this "remember me as a man, not a hero" b.s. they keep peddling. I like my heroes to be like my vodka -- clear, strong and straight up.

No frou-frou for my heroes, please.

Oh, what the movie? It looks really cool in places. Can't say much for the sound, since I was in a theater with a crappy audio set up. The 3-D was fine except for the gratuitous tricks, and the characters move well. Most of the women (with the exception of the Jolie-model) have limited facial movements and look like plastic Barbie dolls.

Worth a rental, unless you are dying to see 3-D, then you might as well take it in on the big screen.

And if you avoided reading Beowulf in school, you'll think it's a pretty decent story. If you have read it, this version won't make a lot of sense.

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