TMB’s Beowulf Review

John gives his quick review of Beowulf

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Or you can read his review here:

I have not been looking forward to Beowulf. To me the animation in the ads looked ridiculous, the voice acting sounded cheesy and it seemed to be that the whole thing would just be 2 hours of nonsense. But that’s why we still go and give it a shot… because it was a good, fun and entertaining movie.

THE GENERAL IDEA
Based on the famous ancient poem, Beowulf follows a hero (that the movie is named after) who travels to a neighboring kingdom that has been terrorized by a monster named Grendel. The king is delighted that Beowulf and his men have come to rid them of their curse, but Beowulf soon discovers the trouble runs far deeper than it first appears. Not only does Beowulf have to deal with Grendel, but also his demon mother also who shares a dark secret with the king.

THE GOOD
WOW… visually the movie was stunning. I had the pleasure of watching it in IMAX 3D while down in San Francisco and the film truly is a feast for the eyes. Brilliant and vibrant, the landscapes almost play a living role in the film. The 3D technology certainly has come a LONG way.

The voice acting was (and I don’t use this word often) PERFECT. Especially strong were Anthony Hopkins as the King, and John Malkovich as the King’s servant Unferth. In the commercials I thought Angelina Jolie sounded silly and forced… but in the context of the film, she was flawless… her voice added so much to the character. And Ray Winstone as Beowulf carried more Machismo than 300 Spartans.

The action. You don’t often hear a lot of praise for action sequences in 3D animated films… but the action in this film was awe inspiring. It was animated to such perfection and directed so flawlessly that you really felt like you were there in the action. It was heart pounding and intense and I loved every second of it. And how can you not love a lead character that swims the Ocean for 5 full days, then fights and kills 9 sea monsters and still have enough left in the tank to do a hot mermaid that just so happened to be swimming by at the time?

THE BAD
As nifty as the 3D was, and as impressive as it was, and as beautiful as it was… the novelty of it wore off for me about 10 or 15 minutes into the film. At about 30 minutes I found myself wishing I could take the glasses off and just enjoy the film… but I couldn’t.

The Story. As exhilarating as the movie is, one can’t deny the actual story doesn’t cover a 2 hour film very well. As a 30 minute tale, it’s perfect… stretched over 2 hours it looked thin. Great larger than life characters hide the shortcomings of the story well… but not completely.

While being over the top can be ideal for certain situation in a film, if you go overboard with it, it can begin to wear down the novelty and start to feel a touch silly. From time to time I felt that.

OVERALL
Not an Oscar winner, nor an all time classic, but Beowulf delivers exactly what it seems to aim for. A fun, intense, exhilarating 2 hours of entertainment. The story is a touch weak, the novelty of 3D wears off quickly and some stuff seems a little too silly (even for a 3D movie) but overall the film works and works well. I give Beowulf a 7.5 out of 10

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16 thoughts on “TMB’s Beowulf Review

  1. I can’t imagine seeing Beowulf any other way than IMAX 3D. To me, the film was like an expensive simulator ride you would go on at a Florida theme park, except the seats don’t move.

    But it was the most intense experience i’ve had at the movies for ages. It was the scariest film i’ve seen this year, and it was the loudest too (i was begging the characters to stop shouting and screaming but they wouldn’t). Plus, animation or not, the final set piece is the most thrilling i’ve seen this year. I had a blast watching the film but i’m not dying to buy the DVD because i think the experience will be severely lessoned.

    By the way, is there some kind of rule in American film now that whenever you make some kind of historical/period epic, Brendan Gleeson must be in it?

  2. John, i remember for a few months back you were not impressed with the 3-D hype when Katzenburg and others were talking about 3-D as the future of the movietheaters. Now that you have seen the first ‘real’ 3-d movie, did it change your mind. I could tell from your review that you were not too exited from the experince – but still, could it be the future?

  3. Its great to see an animated film aim toward the mature audience for a change. I hope other studios will follow Beowulf example and do more of these type of animated films and not pigeonhole animation in the kiddy genre.

  4. I gave it 4 out of 5. I didn’t mind the glasses and I actually enjoyed the feeling of immersion after the first 10 minutes or so. I also think this film will be looked at as the defining movie that ushered in the 3D era.

    Vic

  5. Great review. Are you guys planning to see Southland Tales, or are you guys waiting for the box office resuts and other reviews?

    One more day before the podcast and commentary! Can’t wait to hear Doug on any scene with Frenzy!

  6. Ah, there you are John! Good review, and glad to see the video reviews back by the way.
    Gonna go see Beowulf this weekend, and can’t wait for the new Transformers commentary that’ll be sweet.

    I just hope you can contain yourselves in some of the scenes (i.e. Megatron and Optimus Prime flying through the building) while watching :)

    -IncliningPizza

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