Top positive review
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Interesting adaptation. And a good blu-ray
on 2 February 2008
Why this movie has been ill criticized by many critics and plain movie goers is a mistery to me. I know that many complaints come from the fact that this is not a faithful adaptation of the epic poem. But first of all, it's been said many times that a movie should be judge by its merits alone (movies have a hard time translating the emotions and content of a book or a story anyway) and I don't see any problem with making a movie just inspired in a legend, if it is well done.
This is the case with B&G. First of all, in spite of not having special effects, or CGI's, or big sets, it never looks cheap. The landscapes of Iceland are its best asset, because of their beauty and their quality and look of a legendary place. The costumes add authenticity too.
The acting is very good, specially Stellan Skarsgard as the tormented King Hrothgar and Sarah Poley (as usual) as Selma the Witch, with Gerald Butler (Leonidas, from "300")providing an acceptable charaterization of the hero (which by the way is far from being a super-hero, and more down to earth).
The movie hasn't forgotten completely that some fantasy, legend or myth must remain in the story, but its approach is that all those legends must have had a human origin, magnificated and made mythical by the passing of time and oral tradition. And for me, this is a plus: it provides a human background to the story, and keeps it human for the most part. That may be a shock for many: if you expect a typical legendary monster movie, you won't find it here. Neither will you find a non-stop action movie "300" style. B&G is more drama than action. It's funny, but that's the reason why this movie is SO different from BEOWULF, the 2007 Hollywood movie; even though they are about the same story, the result is different.
I'm afraid to say that as a commercial product, the movie has some hollywod-esque concessions (constant cursing -somehow justified by the director and crew in their commentary-, the obligatory romance). But those are minor flaws, and I don't think that will affect you appreciation of the movie, once you have the proper frame of mind to watch it.
NOW ABOUT THE BLU RAY: I've read that the transfer has been criticized by some. The fact is that in daylight scenes this tranfer is as good looking as any I've seen. Believe me, the grandeur of the landscapes is reason alone to own this movie in Blu Ray. The mountains, the waterfalls, the beaches...make me wanna be there.
It's the nightime scenes that look a little ordinary, just standard, closer to a plain DVD. But I wouldn't put the whole blame in the quality of the transfer; it is that those scenes have been filmed with just the neccesary light. Is this a flaw? I don't think so. It provides more authenticity.
But yes, there is a particular scene (a dialogue between Beowulf and Hrothgar) that isn't even a nightime scene, in which the quality is very low, and that is because of the transfer and the original print: it looks stained and with a constant flashing. (That flashing is present also in another early daytime scene -when little Grendel is seen running in the beach-, but is less perceptible). But these are no reasons to dismiss the Blu Ray as a bad product, because most of the movie look pristine and very clear and detailed.
As for extras, well, this is the part in which the Blu Ray will leave you wanting. There's a commentary, which is said to be done "by the director and screenwriter" but that in fact includes a couple of more people, and that is very entertaining and informative -and is very insistent about this movie being made the old fashion way, little computer help). There is also "storyboard comparisons", and some trailers. The DVD version of the movie has more extras and that's something that I will never understand: do they really expect us to buy the DVD also just because it has more material in it?. Come on, be fair, and include the same material in the blu ray release !. This is what made me downgrade my rating.
The audio track is Dolby Digital, plus a PCM option. The dolby track is very good, just check a couple of scenes near a waterfall, or near the ocean and you will hear the water all around you. It also provides a good enhancement of the music during the movie. The feature only has ENGLISH subtitles.
So, if you loved this movie, there's no reason you shouldn't own this blu ray. If you have a blu ray player, this is a good movie to own. There's no reason why you shouldn't enjoy the story (I repeat, as long as you don't expect a faithfull retelling of the old poem, or an action-packed movie) but anyway, the Iceland landscapes won't let you regret it.