beowulf.jpgThere is a lot of buzz about Beowulf, and rightly so. Toy Story beat it as a full-length computer animated feature, but Beowulf is still a first for the medium. It is the only such film to have a PG-13 rating and has the possibility of being rated even harder by the time it is released on DVD. Many are lauding the advances in computer graphics (even though it is reminiscent of a dirtier Shrek). Even with the overwhelming gossip and what it means for the industry, it needs to be asked of those who stir these things: did they see the movie?

Most of us know the story. Beowulf (Ray Winstone) comes to King Hrothgar of the Danes (Anthony Hopkins) and pledges to kill the monster that terrorizes the king’s lands and kills his men. Grendel’s mother (Angelina Jolie) works to avenge the death of her monster-son, Grendel (Crispin Glover). But secret sins come to haunt Hrothgar and eventually Beowulf – and endanger all those who look to these men to protect them.

While the film is beautiful for its attempt at unbelievable vibrant realism, it suffers varying shades of gray in its writing. It’s not so much the story, because it is actually extremely interesting to see a new interpretation of an extremely old story. But the film seems to have an immature sense of humor, with lines such as, “men come from miles around to taste of the king’s mead.” Believe it or not, it sounds like something even dirtier in person. It’s a style typical of Neil Gaiman, a post-modernist who is known for playing irreverently and experimentally with age-old perceptions, but it can and does seem somewhat inappropriate here. There are also some juvenile visual jokes, like an entire scene of Beowulf fighting naked with his crotch carefully hidden by chair legs and outstretched hands in the foreground. What seemed like a potentially pivotal scene only served to distract the audience with an unexpected likeness to the last scene in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. There is an Anglo-Saxon vulgarity to this film, and it’s never a contribution to the film overall – only a distraction.

Moving past its sometimes strangebeowulf-3.jpg dialogue and deceptively beautiful CG sheen, the film is most definitely worth seeing. It’s certainly a new retelling of a beloved epic. It does hold true to the heroic standard set for it – lows, highs, and all. The lowering of the rating probably caused some of the perceived flaws of the film (restricted trailers are available at the official website), but it is worth seeing for its technological advancements alone. In the end most people will find themselves entertained in the violent fashion they would enjoy 300. However, it’s obvious that Beowulf was striving for something deeper than pure entertainment value, and may have painfully missed its mark.beowulf-2.jpg