Monday, April 14, 2008

to make up for saturday's wretched dragon movie, which I believe was called Dragon Lance (there was yet another dragon flick, as well), Erin and I watched Beowulf. at least it made a modicum of sense, tho it certainly was a sloppy thing. it was done in that live action animation, like 300. it seemed more cartoony than 300. everyone looked made of plastic, and the backgrounds weren't so floridly thrilling as in 300. still, it evoked a sense of Beowulf and that world. I am not saying accurately, just that it all kinda worked. the merrymaking in the mead hall had a stilted quality but you could imagine a real place from that suggestion. by stilted I mean that the animation was of the quality of video games (quality and video games should not, I wot, be associated in the same sentence), especially those bits that delineate the 'plot', before gamester does all that mindless jumping and exploding. then Grendel. he looked misdrawn, or like Gumby after the steamroller hits him. I had the same feeling with the dwarf in 300, the grotesqueness went too gaga. in action, Grendel looked 2-dimensional. his actions were brutal, tearing limbs and biting heads off. these atrocities weren't quite focused on, as if good taste were trying to peek thru. which is silly. I actually think that it should have been more gory, because it came across as Wile E Coyote, especially given that the physics of tossed human bodies didn't seem exactly Newtonian as they floated and revolved serenely. Beowulf was played by a beefy guy unknown to me. I detected Anthony Hopkins behind a beard and big belly, and John Malkovich. Beowulf was kinda like Cuchulain plus super hero. when he fought Grendel, he earnestly did so nude. the naughtiest bits were kept discreetly obscured. again, I think they might as well show them, as a kind of integrity. because there was at least a touch of the priapic in the way Beowulf was presented. his fight with Grendel was fairly stupid. Grendel seemed to change in scale in various shots, Beowulf looked plastic, and movements of both were nothing close to lifelike. okay, so then Grendel dies, and Grendel's mom... Beowulf must deal with her. and she's... it's Angelina Jolie! she's in a gold plastic (opaque Saran Wrap, I'm thinking) body suit, or it is a department store mannekin playing body double. she wears heels, sic, and a long tail. now if this isn't Beowulf with a Hollywood aesthetic then I know not what is. at least it is Angelina Jolie, who can reasonably be cited as iconic hottie of the present day (and she roosts with the male counterpart of that). (!!!). she seduces Beowulf basically by being Angelina Jolie. it doesn't quite work. I mean I acknowledge that in cultural terms there's an uh huh attached to her name, at least if my reading of People magazine is correct. natheless, it is a bit too easy for grand Beowulf to go wobbly. so Anthony Hopkins understands that Beowulf fell for Angelina, as he had earlier. he kills himself. Beowulf is king. blah blah until elderly Beowulf battles the dragon (was it her? I got confused). this is cinematic silliness, enthralling to the degree that people would actually offer such cartoonitude to an intelligent audience. what captivated me was the nihilism that is so intrinsic to Norse myth. Beowulf, the character, was deep in that. which is why gore and John Thomas desrve to be featured. trust me, I am not overweighting this movie. after all, Robert Zemeckis is involved, and the junk that he's done does not impress me. I HAVE read Beowulf, tho it has been decades, and I DO want to read it again. I love the sound of English that way, and the whole framework is compelling. I shall, when I can, return to the written Beowulf. this is the biggest plus of the movie.