Polar Express was too ugly to watch. Let’s just get that out of the way. I’ve read it described as ‘charmless’ and I’m gonna have to ding-ding-ding on that one. Agreed. ::Gavel slam::
Beowulf begins with the same problem – at least in so far as the stiff upper body range of motion and mouth range of many of the characters. And then suddenly, either it improves or I was just too engrossed in the movie to care? I tend to think it did honestly get better when the action was sort of reduced to primary characters.
So backstory: freshman year in IB English was all creation myths and epic poems, if memory serves. Well. And The Once and Future King, but to be fair I didn’t honestly read that cover to cover so much as I read chunks as needed. So yes, alongside Gilgamesh, The Aeneid, etc, we did read Beowulf. Now, in my opinion, but for those of us who critically read it alongside the others and talked about it in historical context – it’s not great. That’s just me. It was dry, the hero was a hero because the poet said he was a hero. Which is to say, we don’t know anything about him to make him so but that he killed monsters. Feel free to refresh my memory since I haven’t read any of those but possibly The Aeneid since I was 14, but this is the emotional memory I have of it.
So you’ll excuse me if I think Neil Gaiman – who can’t seem to entertain me for a full novel based on what I find to be passive or lazy main characters – did a great job co-writing a screenplay. Beowulf becomes a hero in my mind, legit.
In a way that I can understand a man being called a hero. In a pagan mythology setting, I very much approved of the commentary that the most a man can do is slay his own demons. As in, literally the demons of his making. Or fathering, as it were.
I loved the way they dealt with/interwove the Roman adoption of Christianity, particularly the line that speaks of the Christ-God marking the end of the age of heroes. It was quite thought-provoking, entirely.
I LOVED Crispin Glover’s Grendel and Angelina’s voice, which is saying a lot since she killed it in Alexander. And not in a good way. Not “Yo, she killed that performance.” Moreso “::scream:: She killed it!” followed by “Arrest that woman!”
I suppose the thing that got under my skin and nagged at me – in a bad(?) way, not the way the demon’s sparse theme burrowed into my brain which I heart-ed – was the final seduction. I suppose it was in keeping with the absence and impossibility of morality in a man, but it also sort of threw the richness of Beowulf’s adaptation into futility? It was for nothing? Kind of?
I don’t know. It also sort of made *her* useless? Following the awesome shot of her kissing Beowulf on his funeral pyre – which makes it personal and great – with her immediate and indiscriminate pursuit of a new father? I don’t know. I wish he had been obviously wiser, as I felt he’d been throughout.
SO. I loved it. And will watch it again. And wonder how it started with me being super unimpressed with the early-Shrek almost immature animation to being awesome, even visually from the first Grendel scene.
Old English nerds feel free to talk about how it was a “parody of an epic poem”. But not here. TOODLES!