Beowulf

Okay, so I am one of the guys that rarely gets to go to the theater. I end up watching movies on DVD. So the reality is that most of you have probably watched this film already and I won’t be telling you anything you don’t know. But just in case: SPOILERS BEWARE and all that stuff.

I wanted to see Beowulf in the theater but Mrs Edge wasn’t keen on the idea. So once I found out that Rifftrax was doing Beowulf it was my excuse to watch it. I wanted to watch the movie unriffed the first time. So here is my review of the film on it’s own.

Angelina Jolie in Beowulf

I knew of the story of Beowulf. I never read the old english ballad. But I had gathered from various sources throughout the years what the story was. But the film was very much different from the story I was expecting.

From what I knew, there is a monster named Grendel that is terrorizing a viking kingdom. The king sends for a hero and Beowulf comes. Beowulf is like one of the original superheroes. He is like the viking version of Hercules or Sinbad the Sailor. He is stronger and faster than a normal human being.

Beowulf fights an epic battle with Grendel and kills the monster by ripping its arm off. He then tracks down and kills Grendel’s mother by beheading her. He becomes a king in his older years. He then fights a climactic battle with a dragon and kills the creature even though taking fatal wounds. He dies the greatest viking hero ever.

But the movie has a very different take on the Beowulf legend.

The following trailer gives a much better picture of the way this movie takes the story.

In this version Beowulf is a very flawed man. He isn’t an altruistic sort. He’s not there to save the kingdom really. He doesn’t seem to care much about others. (In the fight with Grendel, he calmly watches his own men die while figuring out the monster’s weakness.) He fights for glory. He knows that if he kills Grendel, his story will grow. He wants bards to sing of him. He wants women to flock to him. He wants to be known as a hero like the heros of viking lore.

In fact, at the beginning, you begin to wonder if he is anything more than a braggart. He obviously exaggerates when telling tales about himself. His men comment on it. It isn’t until the battle with Grendel is won, that you know he is indeed almost as good as he thinks he is.

We also learn of Beowulf’s weaknesses,

1. We have already talked about. His thirst for acclaim.
2. Women.

From the moment he arrives in the kingdom, you can see he has eyes on the queen. He seems entranced by her. He never makes any moves, but you can tell that he wants to. When recounting his story about how he lost a swimming match with Breca, he tells the crowd that the reason he lost was he was seized by a sea serpent. But from his memories, we see that he was instead seduced by a mermaid.

It ends up that this was his biggest weakness because when Grendel’s mother decides to seduce him, he shows us just how weak he really is.

Beowulf in Grendel's cave

This is where I feel that the movie takes the tale of Beowulf and improves upon it. Previously the tale of Beowulf doesn’t really explain why Grendel haunts the mead hall or why the dragon attacks Beuwulf’s kingdom later in his life.

In this film, we are shown that Grendel is actually the son of King Hrothgar and the Demon. This explains his deformed half-human looks and how he is tortured by the merry making of humans. He can not be part of that world and his only company is his evil twisted mother. Hrothgar wants Grendel dead to rid him of his guilt over having been seduced by a demon.

When Beowulf confront’s Grendel’s demon mother intending to kill her, he does not know that the King was Grendel’s father. In a big departure from the original tale, he is seduced by the demon’s promise of glory and power (and Angelina Jolie’s hot bod). Instead of killing her, he gives her the means of taking revenge in the form of another son.

Beowulf still

When he returns to the mead hall with Grendel’s head, he boasts of killing the “hag”. The king gets him in private and tells him that they both know she isn’t a hag. Beowulf doesn’t admit that she is not dead, but the king knows. The king then leaves his entire kingdom to Beowulf and throw’s himself into the sea. It isn’t until that point that Beowulf realizes what he has done.

Thus later in life when the Dragon attacks we know that this dragon is in fact Beowulf’s own son. Over the years, Beowulf has matured into the man that he had always boasted that he was, but he is also haunted by the knowledge of the sins of his youth. So when his son comes to terrorize his kingdom, Beowulf decides to put aside his selfishness and give his life for those he loves. In the end, he becomes a true hero.

It is quite a fantastic story. I enjoyed the film just as much for the story as for the action which is something I was not expecting to do. Now the violence was too bloody and the near nudity too near nude for a PG-13 film. The final twist at the end was a little too ambiguous for my tastes. But all in all, I thought it was a good movie. I don’t know how many family or friends I could show it to, but there you have it.

Now for the Rifftrax version:

Rifftrax Beowulf

I have long contended that listening to the Rifftrax of a movie you like can be far more enjoyable than listening to the Rifftrax of something you hate. This one once again proves my point.

Here is mike Nelson’s description of the Beowulf Rifftrax:

“For years we at RiffTrax have lived under the mistaken belief that we are Beowulf. So we were shocked when a cartoon version of Ray Winstone squeezed into a tiny pair of leather battle panties (LBPs) and set us straight in no uncertain terms. And he’s right – HE. IS. BEOWULF!! Though it took some getting used to the idea that we are not Beowulf, in all honesty it’s been a whole lot more pleasant to come into the office and see pants where one once saw nothing but a sea of LBPs.

But if you haven’t yet exceeded your limit, may we suggest you download our hilarious new RiffTrax for Beowulf in which a fully clothed Mike, Kevin and Bill take on our less than clothed hero, his extremely unclothed lizardy paramour (played with big boobs gusto by Digi-lina Jolie), and a disappointingly unclothed Anthony Hopkins.

IT! IS! FUNNY!!!”

As you can see, they enjoy making fun of Beowulf’s boastfullness. They also enjoy making fun of Grendel.

Crispin Glover Grendel

Here are some sample quotes regarding Grendel:

When he first appears, Bill says, “Hey look, Crispin Glover. Yep, self inflicted head wound, that’s Crispin Glover all right.”

When he is fighting the vikings in the hall, Bill says, “Man, this is worse than the time we got attacked by that thing my dog threw up.”

Later, when Grendel’s mom tells him that men have destroyed many of our kind, Bill says, “our kind being giant pieces of poo.”

They also get good digs in regarding everyone’s disturbing lack of clothing, the crazy camera angles, and anything to do with John Malkovich.

This is definitely one of my favorite Rifftrax so far. Download it and enjoy the heck out of this film.

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