• 2007-12-05
  • by Tim Ochser

HISTORIC BLUNDER: Despite its impressive cast, "Beowulf" is just another in a long line of tired, costume epics.

Director: Robert Zemeckis

It is amazing how much money Hollywood will put into a film without giving much thought to the script or general storyline. What's even more shocking is the caliber of fine actors that are willing to lend their names and reputation to such shocking productions.

In concept, "Beowulf" sounds promising. Based on an ancient Anglo-Saxon poem about a heroic Norwegian who saved the Danes from fearsome beasts, this movie had potential. Yet it was destroyed by a cheesy script and even more tacky visual effects.
"Beowulf" is the latest film to use the "green screen" animation-over-film computer animation style, a la "Sin City" and "A Scanner Darkly." Unlike those productions, however, the visuals here are amateurish and ugly. It seems that this is a genre of filmmaking we will have to endure for some time to come.
The impressive cast includes Anthony Hopkins, playing the half-naked drunkard king of the Danes, John Malkovich, playing a sniveling usurper, and Angelina Jolie, who strips off to play a seductive sea demon. Ray Winstone, who delivered such a brilliant performance in Nick Cave's "The Proposition," destroys his credibility in the title role of this stinker.

The substance of the ancient poem is changed significantly to deliver a more action-packed storyline. Predictably, it is an American director Robert Zemeckis, who does such injustice to this classic British text. This is Zemeckis' first directorial effort, having previously held the role of producer. His track record suggests he should give up at both.
Cinema audiences would be wise to be wary of any film calling itself an "epic." Consider the recent track record of ancient tales brought to the screen 's "300," "13th Warrior," "Troy." It's only a matter of time before a studio decides to rework "Ben Hur" or "The Ten Commandments."
I wasn't the only one who thought this film was a waste of time. I counted six people leave the theater within an hour, and there were only twenty tickets sold to begin with.

Now playing in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

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