Waiting for Beowulf

I had a terrible time concentrating all week long. Whenever I tried to get involved with anything I heard this voice off in the distance hollering, "I AM BEOWUUULLLFFF!" and then an answering voice said, "Opens this weekend" and then some math happened, with the end result that I would know, down to the minute, just how long I had to wait to go and see this movie. At first I wasn't even sure why I was so psyched about it. The first trailer that I saw made it look like a 300 knockoff, (see above scream which is reminiscent of "We are SPARTTTAAAAAA!!") which didn't exactly thrill me. Furthermore, I hate to admit it, but I know almost nothing about the source material, beyond that it is reputed to be the oldest surviving English poem and it's about a dude who fights a monster, the monster's mother and a dragon. If you ask me sometimes getting home on the subway is a lot like the plot of Beowulf, with the added minus of not getting any fame. Plus you have to keep your clothes on.* But I digress.

Before I go on, here's a quick roundup of some characters and how they fit into that brief plot synopsis. Grendel is a demon who is plaguing the Danes by, well, eating them. Mind you, he's not a zombie or a ghoul so I'm not sure where he gets his taste for human flesh, but he does have it and drives poor King Hrothgar completely nuts by decimating his people and chewing them up. Enter Beowulf, a totally awesome warrior who is so good that he's maybe a little bored and looking for a super awesome opponent, one who won't just fall down dead at the very mention of his name. Thinking possibly this Grendel guy will be a worthy adversary, Beowulf travels to Hrothgar's kingdom, fights Grendel, ripping his arm off, which naturally is not very good for the demon's health. Grendel's mum (who is described as a hag or a warrior woman, depending on who you ask) is righteously furious and kills someone in retribution, leading to her own battle with Beowulf. Eventually Beowulf also fights a dragon. Got all that?

So what is the appeal of this film? For some people it will be Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother. Or Anthony Hopkins as Hrothgar. Or Crispin Glover as Grendel. (IMDB has Mr. Glover listed as Crispin Hellion Glover, possibly the most awesome middle name ever. If you don't know the meaning of hellion be sure to look it up.) Or any of the other amazing cast members; John Malkovich, Ray Winstone, Robin Wright Penn (Remember her? She was the Princess Bride), to name a few. For others it will be the fight scenes. For some it will be the joy of watching what can be done with motion capture technology. For others it's the simple pleasures of watching a 3D film for grownups. (Beowulf is also available in some theaters in 3D and if you're lucky enough to live near an IMAX theater you can see it in 3D that's as big as my house.)

But what about me? Why does it appeal to me specifically? I think partly because it's going to be the first great big fantasy battle movie I've seen since Lord of the Rings. But more importantly I trust the people behind the film. The script was written by Roger Avery (Pulp Fiction, Silent Hill) and Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Anansi Boys) and directed by Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away, Polar Express.) Any of these fellows is entertaining in their own right. I can only shiver with anticipation when I imagine what they're going to do together. So while some people are fighting over who gets the juiciest turkey down at the grocer's I'll be at the movies watching Beowulf make good on his promise to "kill my monstah!"

*A beta reader said they didn't know what the heck I meant about having to keep your clothes on. Beowulf famously fought Grendel without any weapons, armor, or quite possibly any clothes at all. That's just how awesome a guy he was. Or how freaky, I'm not sure which.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Paul Muolo who has this to say about the Young Frankenstein DVD, "The musical 'version' of 'Young Frankenstein' opened on Broadway last week to tepid reviews. Save yourself the $200 ticket price and rent the DVD on Netflix. It's a howl. The original movie version (written and directed by legendary funny man Mel Brooks) stars comedic actors Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Terri Garr, and Madeline Kahn. Wilder is at the peak of his 'silly' powers, but perhaps the funniest scene (in my book) involves another Gene (Hackman) who plays the blind hermit who encounters the monster in the woods. I won't give away the jokes but rent this movie now." Have you got a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me and I'll run the most interesting ones. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.