Friday, November 23, 2007

Beowulf

Went and saw Beowulf this morning and I have to say I was a little disappointed.

The animation was the same style they used for Polar Express and it is good as far as that goes, but it also didn't fit for this type of movie. I can't find the exact quote but someone over at Ace of Spades said, "I went expecting Die Hard with a dragon, and got Shrek, only real creepy and unfunny". That kind of sums it up.

The other major problem with the movie is the story itself. If this was just something that someone wrote it would an OK story, but it's not, it's based on a major literary work and there are some problems.

Being honest I have never read Beowulf, although it is something that I plan to do, but I am familiar with the story, and from what I know to say that this movie takes liberties is an understatement. In the film Beowulf is presented initially as a braggart interested only in his own self-aggrandizement. Later his is presented greedy, agreeing not to kill Grendel's mother in exchange for a promise of the kingship, and a liar when he claims to have done so.

There are a couple problems here. My understanding is that in the poem Beowulf was a stoic, honest warrior not the bragging liar presented in the film. Second, In the poem Beowulf did kill Grendel's mother and restored peace to King Hroogar's kingdom. He then left and became a king in his home of Geatland. He didn't become King of the Hroogarites or whatever their name was. (That's ignoring the entire issue of whether Hroogar was Grendel's father to begin with.)

Another problem is with the third battle. In the movie the dragon (who is Beowulf's son) attacks when Grendel's mother feels he has broken the deal that made him king. The dragon of course reveals this to one of Beowulf's old rivals who is now a Christian priest who then accuses Beowulf. In the poem the Dragon attacks because a slave steals a golden cup. Little difference there.

I don't really see where the changes make the movie better. I think they were made just to reflect a belief that there really are no heroes, just flawed anti-heroes.

The movie is still OK and you get to see a cartoon Angelina Jolie nekkid but don't expect a faithful adaptation of the story.

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