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.