Manly sword-wielding warriors. Bloody battles against hideous monsters. Heaving-bosomed maidens. Marathon mead-drinking. Enough armor to fill a museum. In other words, virtually every element necessary to craft a halfway decent metal album, and if that's the case then Robert Zemeckis' BEOWULF may just be the single most "metal" movie ever made.
Taking the ancient poem-story of the Geat warrior Beowulf and giving it the 3D/CGI treatment, the film is visually spectacular, but if not for the 3D animation it would be just another sword & sorcery flick of the breed common to the Sci-Fi Channel. It's not bad by any means, but there's little real drama in this retelling of the tale of one man's hubris and how it ruins the lives of himself and the people he came to save. The basic setup has the kingdom of King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins) getting raided by the misshapen creature Grendel (peformed in signature howling-like-a-fucking-maniac style by Crispin Glover),
who apparently hates it when humans have fun, party, or rock out in any way (translation: he's anti-metal). Looking like a cross between a burnt lasagna, a flayed animal, and Michael Stipe after exposure to hard radiation, Grendel shows up during a rowdy night of revelry and kills several of Hrothgar's people, taking a few back home to his cavernous lair for later snacking. None too thrilled with Grendel interrupting his metal doings, Hrothgar closes down the mead hall and awaits a hero to kick Grendel's ass. No sooner than you can sing "The Immigrant Song," blonde badass Beowulf (definitely a defender of the metal way) arrives in a longboat with his small army of Thanes and sets up residence in wait for the beast. When Grendel shows up to take on Beowulf's loudly-partying band, he's confronted with a butt-nekkid Beowulf who engages him in brutal combat and rips off his arm, after which he returns to his lair and dies. This only serves to piss off Grendel's mother, a hot pice of ass of a monster played by and animated to resemble Angelina Jolie,
and she sets out to get revenge for her beloved, deceased baby boy with a plan involving Beowulf's Johnson...
That's pretty much it, although the proceedings are spiced with spectacular scenes of carnage and violence that greatly benefit from the 3D, especially a bit where Beowulf recounts the events in a swimming contents between himself and another warrior, a tale that has all the earmarks of complete and total bullshit, and the awesome dragon assault at the flick's climax. And I don't know if it's meant to be as funny as it is, but BEOWULF at times comes off like a Nordic sketch from MAD TV with overblown characters and situations straight out of an eight-year-old's backyard action figure play. But the silliest thing in the entire film has to be Grendel's mother not only being a walking inducement to priapism, but also having feet that feature built-in pumps. (SEE BELOW)
BEOWULF is pretty much what you'd expect from a Hollywood treatment of a piece of required high school reading (once considered "egghead" stuff), namely rendering it with the rote blandness of yet another adaptation of a piece of pop fiction and occasionally amounting to an action figure commercial (I want the caterwauling Grendel toy!). As I said, it's not terrible or even bad, but it's just kind of there and would have been helped immensely by the addition of a soundtrack stuffed to the gills with Motorhead, The Sword, Cirith Ungol, Saxon, and Manowar blaring from the theater's sound system; if you're gonna make a movie this laden with testosterone, you might as well go all the way with its manly excesses. And if you do decide to see it, shell out the extra cash for the 3D screening (yes, they charged three bucks extra for the 3D, bringing my own ticket cots to $12.75), because without the extra oomph provided by the visuals this is only worth matinee price at best. TRUST YER BUNCHE!!!