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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Visuals.
Because the visuals in the movie are entirely computer generated I had my doubts that even a high definition transfer would be able to enhance them. But after watching the movie on Blu-Ray I realised Beowulf is everything a first-rate HD transfer should be. The level of detail is now so high that a close-up of Beowulf reveals lines and pores in his skin, blemishes and...
Published on 17 Mar. 2008 by Dante the Igniscient

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars fun
I admit I did not expect much from this film and bought it at bargain price much after it came out in dvd just to see the state of the art in animation of adventure stories, not to mention that as an amateur linguist specialised in Germanic languages I was also ready to have to shut ears, eyes and brain not to be too appalled.

Well, I got more than I bargained...
Published on 21 April 2009 by Furio


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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Visuals., 17 Mar. 2008
By 
Dante the Igniscient "ashend10" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Because the visuals in the movie are entirely computer generated I had my doubts that even a high definition transfer would be able to enhance them. But after watching the movie on Blu-Ray I realised Beowulf is everything a first-rate HD transfer should be. The level of detail is now so high that a close-up of Beowulf reveals lines and pores in his skin, blemishes and individual facial hair and even the colour and complexity of the iris in his eyes. Now Grendel looks even more grotesque, his mother even more captivating and the dragon even more spectacular. The characters and monsters look more life-like than ever which begs the question does this type of movie-making represent the future of movie-making?

So what does seperate the Director's Cut from the theatrical version shown in cinemas? Not much to be honest. The scene where Grendel attacks the Mead Hall involves a few more spectacular murders and mutilations. The scene where Grendel's Mother seduces Beowulf contains a few more lines of dialogue and we get to see a bit more of the Golden Boy. The extras include a making of documentary and lots of short featurettes that show the production process. There are some additional scenes but these are not digitally enhanced.

I am sure I am not the only viewer who thought the movie was better off for being unfaithful to the original epic poem. Beowulf is great entertainment for people of all ages although some of the nudity and violence is unsuitable for children 12 or under. Surprisingly Beowulf is rated a 12. So is Beowulf on Blu-Ray worth the extra you pay over the DVD version? Unequivocally YES.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a hero will come, 27 Mar. 2008
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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A fantasy movie based on the old epic story of beowulf, which was pretty much the first thing to be written down in the english language. This is a new take on the story - about a warrior who battles a monster called grendel - and is quite an interesting updating, although purists probably won't be that pleased.

In the first half of the film beowulf battles grendel, then grendel's seductive mother. as a result of this his actions come back to haunt him years later, when he's an old king longing for his glory days. the second section of the film is mildly stronger as it's a nice meditation on growing old and harking back to things that used to be. As a fantasy movie it's very good rather than great and rates 7.5/10.

the big selling point of the movie is that it's done with computer animation and stop motion capture. thus real actors played the characters and the computer versions you see on screen were animated based on their performances. the effects are interesting, as they look almost but not quite lifelike. the human figures are very good, the monsters superb, but a lot of long shots and horse riding and the like look more like cheap model work.

Still it's an interesting experiment and worth a look for that.

This is a DIRECTORS CUT but apart from a few scenes that are slightly longer and bloodier than in the cinema version I could see no difference.

The second disc comes with the following extras:

a twenty five minute long making of documentary. fascinating to watch, when you see what the actors went through for the stop motion process, wearing jumpsuits and markers on their face and in minimal sets. Oddly, angelina jolie is conspicuous by her absence from this and all the other features.

There are ten short films about life on the set and what went on there, all running roughly two minutes. these are interesting for the same reasons as the main making of

A short feature about the origin of the story of beowulf. interesting history, but a feature that could do with being a bit longer

two six minutes features on the design of the film and of the monsters. these are short but interesting.

and a two minute feature on the main character and the casting of the part. interesting but brief.

there are subtitles and language tracks in pretty much every language out there.

Quite a good film, and a very good package for it
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I rather enjoyed it - but I did think it was a bit gory for a 12 rating, 14 Jun. 2008
By 
Charlie-CJ (England) - See all my reviews
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Being a Noggin the Nog fan at 6, I naturally warmed to the Beowulf saga as a teen. Plus I enjoyed John Gardner's 'Grendel' novel as a student, where the Beowulf story is retold from Grendel's perspective: "His mother is totally incommunicative. In fact, his only real friends are the Danes he kills. Still, he knows he is dependent on Hrothgar's survival. If I murdered the last of the Scyldings, he muses, what would I live for?".

When I found out the writer of the book 'Stardust' was helping to produce two movies, 'Stardust' and 'Beowulf', I knew I had to see them at the cinema. I took my son (11) to see both ('Stardust' was great). However, although my son enjoyed the film (well the two main action bits anyway), I did feel Beowulf was rather violent for just a 12 rating - this is one of the few films where I was actually shocked at one point. Beowulf fights Grendel without any clothes to prevent his armour hindering him, and there are articles placed about the mead hall that conveniently hide any obviously male bits from the viewer - and this overt coyness irritatingly distracts you from the horror that's unfolding - i.e. Grendel's attack (after that Beowulf faces Grendel's mother in a loin cloth - not that he needed it then). When Grendel breaks in to the banqueting hall, looking frankly a bit too decayingly revolting, he proceeds to bite off the heads of the hapless Dane warriors and spray them up the wall (but that apparently isn't as disturbing as a PC generated male figure in the buff - although even the Crazy Frog was anatomically correct on kids TV, and Bart Simpson for that matter). Granted my son didn't seem perturbed by the graphic violence, but a 12 rating can bring in kids of any age with their dads. It doesn't look quite so shocking on the small screen via DVD, but be warned if your young preteen sons want to watch this movie (I found this aspect slightly worse than similarly 12 rated King Kong, also a great movie otherwise). However for a 9+ audience all should be fine, and on the big screen this film is probably less disturbing for little ones than PG rated Jurassic Park.

Otherwise I loved the movie (other than wishing Grendel had inherited his mothers, fathers and step-brothers good looks). The change to the story and Grendel's family tree/mothers fate was fine (it made Beowulf more vulnerable and so an even greater hero in overcoming his shame to defeat the avenging fire dragon). The mix of accents didn't worry me (who wants a Danish `allo allo', and Beowulf and Hrothgar are from very different settlements anyway, being born in Sweden and Denmark respectively). Plus Anthony Hopkins [Hrothgar], Brendan Gleeson [Wiglaf], Angelina Jolie [Grendel's mum] and John Malkavich [Unferth] provide superb support for Ray Winstone's Beowulf. The PC animation was pretty good if a little stilted occasionally, and I could certainly see the attraction of Grendel's mother (killing her looked a heck of lot harder). Perhaps I would have preferred a live action `Conan the Barbarian' style version, as much of the fighting and monsters would have been the same CGI anyway, but I was impressed with Beowulf the great Nordic warrior, he cut a believable tough heroic figure and the film evoked well the tragedy of his plight as he goes from hero to zero, and back again. Besides, any Beowulf is better than nothing and this was a good stab at the story. The original poem is a long slog anyway, but worth scanning through - you can find it on the web for free. Also try Gardner's Grendel, and Seamus Heaneys poetical interpretation `Beowulf' (it's more than a translation and has the original alongside to compare). The original Beowulf isn't impossible to read, and rather like Mallory's Morte d'Arthur it puts you closer to those of the era if you read it as written down.

I didn't actually notice much had changed in the director's cut other than the fight scenes are noticeably more gory than the movie release, but this doesn't actually detract from the film at all and does add a bit more gritty realism - after all Grendel and his mum are the stuff of nightmares. However those watching with their sons might opt for the standard release. As usual I haven't watched the extras yet, other than the `making off' which was interesting, showing how the live actors helped the CGI movements - and it made you wish the actors were in the film when you see every nuance of their real facial expressions. But otherwise a pretty good movie. Also check out the scary age-15-rated SciFi movie take on Beowulf/Grendel: 'Outlander', released in 2008, that very effectively mixes CGI and live action.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars fun, 21 April 2009
By 
Furio (Genova - Italy) - See all my reviews
I admit I did not expect much from this film and bought it at bargain price much after it came out in dvd just to see the state of the art in animation of adventure stories, not to mention that as an amateur linguist specialised in Germanic languages I was also ready to have to shut ears, eyes and brain not to be too appalled.

Well, I got more than I bargained for.

In a strange, elusive way this film manages to portray rather faithfully what my imagination has depicted as the Germanic world of the X century or whereabouts (I know, I know, Beowulf is older than that but who cares): primitive and rough but not entirely devoid of cultural refinement (the queen's songs); cruel and violent but not illogical. Authors must have done some research and they have done it well.

The plotline is very simple but not silly and the many well executed action scenes are aptily counterpointed by more intimate ones where the basic needs and flaws of human beings are highlighted, first and foremost the choice of Beowulf to give in to the demon's allurement. This is too very faithful to what I consider to be the spirit of that distant age as are the final scenes when we see Beowulf reach out for the beautiful (and dying) demon son he has just slaughtered or when we see Angelina -the demoness- Jolie kiss for the second and last time the man she may have really loved.

With the only exception of an Angelina Jolie in her prime who could have possibly outshone any animated replica of herself the other actors profit from the animation device. First and foremost Ray Winstone who, in the film, is simply gorgeous: it's far too easy to forget we are not facing a real body there. Beowulf, even in his old age, is nearly as alluring as the demoness, this effect being the sum of a competent actor (Winstone) given the body and charm of a world class model, which is quite an interesting possibility.

All in all a good film: possibly too difficult and gloomy to please kids and simpler audiences but well scripted, well acted and entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sins of the fathers will be visited upon the children, 28 Sept. 2013
By 
Lark (North Coast of Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This is a great animated feature, I believe that it could be enjoyed by younger viewers (it is rated 12) as a straight forward monsters, dragons and heroes action flick, although quite violent it is no more so than the actual source material itself or a lot of early hero tales where they to be retold unabridged, or in a more reflective fashion by older viewers.

At the outset of the movie there is a warrior's hall and fifedom plagued by the murderous onslaught of Grendel, a monster who can not tolerate the sound of mankind's merriment and who comes down to silence the merry makers by breaking them into pieces. None of the warriors can repel him and so they appeal for a hero to come and defeat him, Beowulf and his band arrive to answer the call.

There are a number of great themes developed and clear enough, I believe, to any viewer. The community as a whole suffers as result of the legacy of selfishly bad judgement by its leaders (and heroes), history repeats itself, the hubris of heroes, pursuit of singular glory is both championed (at least by Beowulf himself in the retelling of his tales), condemned (by one of his nearest amongst the party who leaves for a time but also in fact by way of its resulting in bloodshed, first in the supernatural slaughter of Beowulf's party and then later in its prompt to wars and battle) and paradigm shift, from heroism to martyrdom, which Beowulf highlights himself, condemning it, is in some ways completed with Beowulf's sacrificing himself in the process.

I've no idea how faithful this all is to the original source material since I have not read the epic poem myself but it was a good feature to watch and no prior knowledge or acquaintence with the tale is therefore presumably required. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beowulf, 20 Oct. 2010
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This is a glorious High Definition film which has managed to go a long way with its use of CGI special effects. I would really mention that this isn't a 12 at all. I'm not bothered about gore and nudity in films but I think the rating can be deceptive for some. Not me though, and the grit of this old tale is captured really well with stunning visuals and suspense.

The reason I liked this film was because of it's historical depiction, and that is also why I gave it only a 4 star rating. Beowulf captures the essence of the period it is set in; with mead halls and 'merryness' being contrasted with fear and the gloom of death. I particularly like how it depicts the 'christianisation' of none christian people because it shows the history the church tries to cover up and how it destroyed none christian cultures. There's a lot many don't know about the Norse Mythology that was destroyed by these people, and this film helps to highlight that.

On the other hand this is partly the reason I gave it a 4 star rating, having read other reviews who compared the films irregularities to the actual story of Beowulf. To me it seems the modern film industry had to make it a little movie friendly though it still provides and interesting watch. I did dislike the use Angelina Jolie, she just made the 'villain' a lot more annoying and overly suggestive.

Closing comments; a good film which does capture most of the aspects of the real Beowulf myth using great presentation, but any one who's wiser to this will see just how it has been adapted for the film industry.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rare thing a action film with a great story., 28 May 2009
This review is from: Beowulf - Limited Edition 2 Disc Steelbook Director's Cu [DVD] (DVD)
Beowulf is the oldest story written in the english language over a thousand years old which would, have influenced other great fantasy stories/films such as Lord Of Rings and Star Wars. The special effects are of a very high standard with Ray Winstone being made over 6ft tall with a six-pack and large biceps. Anthony Hopkins is as great as ever and lets not forget the very sexy nearly naked Angelina Jolie (wow!!!). Robert Zemeckis has done a great job on this old story what a rush. I nearly forgot to say you can watch this film in 3D at certain cinemas. I don't know what excited me more seeing a dragon in 3D or Angelina Jolie.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars weird, artificial and pretty bad., 22 April 2008
By 
hillbank68 "almac1975" (Fife, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I think this is a disaster, though it is quite fun to watch once. The film makers have gone for a curious computer-generated war-games/manga kind of visual presentation in which real actors - Antony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Robin Wright Penn, Angelina Jolie - look something like an unreal, Thunderbirds version of themselves. In particular, they move strangely, as if wading through a kind of very thin treacle, so that their movements may sometimes be swift, indeed swifter than might be possible in reality, but they still look completely artificial and - well - unreal. So you can never believe what you are seeing, which is a pity, as this great epic poem is gritty and raw and very human, as Hrothgar and Beowulf and Wiglaf try to come to terms with the creature Grendel and its horrible mother, and it should be sterling stuff. The filmmakers have also quite changed the story. Hrothgar has had a child by Grendel's mother (that is his secret shame), and in turn Beowulf, instead of having an epic underwater battle with her, seems also to succumb to her seductive power. She is 'played' by Angelina Jolie, who looks pretty seductive but also (like everyone else) pretty weird, but the point of this liaison of plasma-posturing titans is difficult to understand, and indeed it is pretty well forgotten about until the very end of the film. Why did they do this? It's as if the spoof director in the amusing Orange commercials had had a hand in it ; you expect a subliminal input about text messaging. Perhaps the most unfortunate 'character' is Hrothgar's wife (Robin Wright Penn), who looks like Princess Fiona from 'Shrek' interfered with by Gerry Anderson. No, this is not good, it is silly, and like all silly things it does have a certain appeal, but not at all for the reasons the filmmakers intended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shrek goes to Geatland, 3 April 2010
When I was but a callow freshman my mother, an archetypal Danish monster*, meaning well, made me sign up for a Mediaeval English Literature class. At the time this aggrieved me, but despite myself I enjoyed it immensely, and especially the really old bits - derived from Icelandic and Old High German, prominent among them Snorri Sturluson's sagas in which people ritually burn each other and the anonymous Danish legend Beowulf. It's a great story, even in its original old English (which considerably pre-Chaucer, so tough if you have trouble navigating the vowel shift), and - being the archetypal "confronting the Monster" story - ideal fodder, you would think, for a cinematic treatment.

And in recent times, it has had more than its fair share. Derek Jacobi and Ralph Fiennes have narrated a 30 minute animated version; Gerard Butler and a bunch of Canadians endured gales and abysmal weather in Iceland to make an earnest and frugal but, in truth, not especially imaginative version in 2005. And there's this one.

Well, you certainly couldn't mark this one down for not being imaginative. First the positives: the cast, as announced, is astounding, numbering amongst them Anthony Hopkins (Hrothgar), Ray Winstone (Beowulf), John Malkovich (some other guy) and Angelina Jolie as Grendel's Mother. Yes: you read that right: Brad Pitt's wife (as she then was) plays one of the most famous monsters in the history of literature. Short of a Charlize Theron turn as an Eileen Wurnos type character, that has to be one of the most extraordinary pieces of miscasting since they put Keanu Reeves in Much Ado About Nothing.

Unless, of course, the film-makers have been so imaginative that they've completely re-imagined the part of Grendel's mother. I hope it won't be considered poor sport of me to let on that they have.

And the script is witty and the screenplay and staging - while frequently indulging in 3D effects for the hell of it, as 3D movies tend to do - is impressive. Grendel (junior) is well rendered and achieves surprising empathy for an entirely digital performance. I think he also speaks in Old High German, and is portrayed not as merriment-resenting curmudgeon (as in the original) but as having a very nasty ear infection!

Now the negatives. Beowulf is designed as an onscreen rendering of a graphic novel (in old fashioned lingo, a comic), so do not come to this expecting a faithful or reverent iteration of the film. The plot has been significantly revised, although for the most part thoughtfully and cleverly, albeit conducted at breakneck speed, and with lashings of gore. Then again, it would be difficult to depict as much dismembering the story requires (even in its original state) without a fair bit of splatter.

But the biggest thing to note is that (being produced by the Polar Express team) Beowulf is entirely digital - not just acted in front of blue screens, but fully animated, like Shrek; the actors have been completely re-rendered. In some cases this works well (Hrothgar): I dare say portly cockney geezer Ray Winstone was absolutely chuffed to be presented as a 6 foot 5 inches of rippling Geatish hunk; but the remainder of the characters do have an unfortunate Shrek-ish sort of bearing and their movements aren't especially convincing (particularly the horses, which all look rather stumpy and ponyish). Ultimately I found this immensely distracting to the point where it spoiled what otherwise would have been a tremendous film.

There's a place for the technical wizardry, as Peter Jackson has ably demonstrated; but when it becomes the principal point of the film something is bound to have been lost.

Olly Buxton

*Joking about my mum being a Danish monster. She's a Kiwi, and she's the best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Trepidations Dispelled, 13 Feb. 2013
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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With the cinematic success of `The Lord of the Rings' I suppose it would not be long before `Beowulf' also received the Hollywood motion-picture treatment, especially since Tolkien had mined the Anglo-Saxon poem `Beowulf' as one of his major sources. I therefore approached the screening with some trepidation.

I remember the exact moment in the cinema when my scepticism about the film I was about to watch was dispelled. It occurred six minutes into the film, when the camera pulls back from Hrothgar's hall through the snow-covered fields that surround it. The pull-back then continues further out again across the river; then even further out through a forest; the pull-back continues onwards and outwards, higher and higher until we reach Grendel's cave.

That extended well-framed, perfectly paced, pull-back convinced me that considerable thought had been given to interpreting the `Beowulf' poem, and from then on I was completely engrossed by the world offered to me on screen, ably assisted by Alan Silvestri's fine score. It soon became clear that this was not just another Hollywood hatchet-job. It IS still a hatchet-job of sorts, but one with meaning and good intentions.

Problems arise from the very start when we are told that the setting is `Denmark AD507', which is `a little' too early for my liking. Changes and additions have been made to the dialogue, and some fundamental changes have been made to the storyline. The screenwriters - Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary - argue that this is for the better in that it makes the narrative more coherent. And I am tempted to agree with them.

They have fleshed out the roles of Wealthow and Unferth, but the most radical change is to imply that Hrothgar slept with Grendel's mother, thus spawning the beast whose eardrums are so sensitive. In the poem, of course, Beowulf entered her lair via a lake, but here her home is the same as Grendel's, albeit a lake is found within the cave.

The second radical change is Hrothgar committing suicide after naming Beowulf as his heir, which allows the story to remain within the one landscape, so that the dragon (who is explicitly the son of Beowulf and Grendel's mother, a third major modification) haunts the same land as Grendel rather than ravaging the country of Beowulf's homeland, as the original poem has it. As already mentioned, these changes make for a more cohesive narrative, turning the poem's three acts into one linked tale that is beautifully, brilliantly, and imaginatively produced (though purists will no doubt be horrified).

But at heart this cinematic interpretation of `Beowulf' remains true to its original telling. Some of the violence is excessively gruesome, but is no doubt included to appeal to a certain kind of teenage mentality. A linked but more healthy kind of teenage mentality is appealed to by the garb (or rather, lack of garb) and portrayal of Grendel's mother by Angelina Jolie. But it's a shame that the final dragon flight and fight becomes wholly contrived and mere entertainment.

In terms of production design, full marks for imaginative responses, such as the roof of Grendel's cave being formed of the inside of a giant's ribcage. But to portray Jutland as a land of mountains will disappoint a lot of tourists looking for an original `Beowulf' experience. And to have Hrothgar's hall and Beowulf's later city constructed in stone with towers and other architectural ornamentation is to place sixth-century Danish civilisation five hundred years ahead of its time.

The motion-capture method of filming for which director Robert Zemeckis has become renowned works. Andrew Osmond, writing in `Sight & Sound' wrote how "'Beowulf' often feels like live-action with special effects, rather than computer animation." At least it makes a portly Ray Winstone look more like a youthful Sean Bean. It's a shame that the actors all maintain their own distinctive accents, but we are compensated by the amusement experienced watching the lengths the film goes to ensure Beowulf's private parts remain hidden.

This is a review of the two-disc director's cut edition. The second disc has a twenty-five minute `Making of', in which Zemeckis openly states that his film focuses on the more physical aspects of the tale - the food, the drink, the fighting, and the sex. We also learn how the motion-capture technique - not dependent on light, weather, etc - means that he can shoot in forty minutes what would have normally taken a whole day.

Other extras include a series of short films "mapping the journey" from poem to film, and the screenwriters explain why they made the changes they did for the sake of dramatic unity. There is much too on the film's artwork and the design of the creatures. Finally, there are seven additional scenes (in basic form), lasting twelve minutes.
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