Beowulf is ripper, tearer, slasher, gouger. He is the teeth in the darkness, the talons in the night. His is strength and lust and power! He is BEOWULF! And yet I never once knew a thing about Beowulf growing up. I never read his epic poem or heard tales of his legendary battles. The 2007 Beowulf was my first introduction. Although I initially ignored it because something about it looked… off. Later realizing it was the uncanny valley motion capture animation that Robert Zemeckis was strangely fascinated by after making Polar Express. I never thought I’d get into Beowulf, but I always love a good old fashioned larger than life hero’s tale. Beowulf is the hero of Geats known for his impressive feats. Such as slaying ferocious sea monsters.
Although the original poem is very straightforward, a lot of liberties are taken to give characters more flaws. The animation takes some getting used to, but when you do, the action is very exciting. Ray Winstone is unrecognizable as the ripped Beowulf, but Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright, and especially Angelina Jolie are exact replicas. Hopkins plays Hrothgar, his first of two Scandinavian Kings. He encourages everyone to drink and fornicate. Incurring the wrath of the hideous monster Grendel. Crispin Glover is hidden under an undefinable creature that really pushes the film’s PG-13 rating.
When Beowulf is called, he pushes the rating even more by fighting Grendel while naked. Not sure how they got away with any of that. Then Grendel’s mother shows up. Now she’s a half lizard seductress that a practically naked Jolie plays. Beowulf’s deal with her turns him into a ruthless king with a queen and mistress that makes him less like the poem. The final dragon antagonist has a greater connection to Beowulf and an epic final battle that once again pushes the rating. As fantastical as Beowulf is, there is still a connection to Christianity not found in the poem. Along with themes that require closer examination. Beowulf is a grand interpretation that’s unlike anything I’ve seen before.