Students have been asking me if I’ve seen the new Beowulf movie. Generally, I am willing to see a movie for myself before passing judgment on it, and I did just that with the 2005 Beowulf and Grendel movie (filmed in Iceland, with real live Gerard Butler as Beowulf). It had its moments, mostly involving scenic Iceland; its attempt to provide Grendel with a touching backstory was unsuccessful, as was the pointless insertion of a witch into the plot. Why doesn’t someone just go all the way and film John Gardner’s Grendel? It would make more sense.
However, one glimpse of Angelina Jolie in the trailer for the Zemeckis/Gaiman/Avary Beowulf, and I knew it would be a travesty. No one who had actually read the poem could take her seriously as Grendel’s mother, especially not with six-inch stilettos apparently growing from her heels. Clearly this movie was going to set up some kind of seduction…where that would lead would certainly not be pretty. Posters proclaimed “Pride is the Curse!” Well…one of the possible curses, at any rate. Talk about a vast oversimplification. So all right, I haven’t seen it. I hear the 3D effects are thrilling…and occasionally comical. But a movie that’s only worth seeing for 3D visuals doesn’t seem like much, especially when it’s based on one of the world’s classic tales of adventure, courage, combat, and sacrifice.
If I do see it, I’ll report. But I’ve already seen at least one reviewer write that he now “understands” Beowulf after seeing this movie. I think that’s extremely unlikely