Last Saturday night I went to see Beowulf in 3D at the IMAX in San Francisco. I had more than a sneaking suspicion that it would be awful, but I thought that it could possibly be silly fun, especially in 3D. I was wrong. Let's put it this way: I had a nosebleed afterward on BART. I went home and coughed up blood. That was preferable to watching Beowulf. It was the worst movie I've ever seen.
Never before have I seriously considered walking out of a theatre. Certainly never less than five minutes into the movie. What was so wrong with it? Well, here's the shortlist:
WARNING: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS.
1. Hrothgar was a drunken, sometimes naked, lout. Oh, and Grendel's dad. And he kills himself.
2. Two words: uncanny valley. Especially the chicks. Wiglaf gets a pass, though, as he was remarkably lifelike, and the only likable character in the whole bloody movie.
3. Cockblocking. Literally. Apparently, when the poem said that Beowulf fought Grendel bare-handed, it meant bare-assed, too. You can tell when things get serious because Beowulf gets naked. Then you see the most ridiculous assortment of penis-blocking shots ever. Like in Austin Powers. But I don't think Beowulf was supposed to be a comedy. Maybe I misunderstood something.
4. Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother. Yes, the "sea hag." Also absurd: her tentacle braid, the organic stilettos growing from her heels, and the fact that Beowulf sleeps with her instead of killing her.
5. Know the dragon that ultimately kills our hero? Well, remember how Grendel was Hrothgar's son? Yeah, you see where I'm going with this. The dragon's Beowulf's kid. Now, setting aside how asinine that concept is, here's my question: When Hrothgar and Angelina Jolie mate, they produce Grendel, gooey, misshapen, inside-out man. When Beowulf and Angie mate, they produce some perfectly-muscled golden (as in actually gold) boy who can transform into a dragon. So, um, how exactly does that work? I mean, Beowulf's better-looking than Hrothgar, but ol' Hrothie's not hideous or anything.
I'm not even going to quibble about all the general ickiness (all the eyeball-stabbing, eardrum-punching, arm-hacking, body-ripping-in-half, gut-slicing, head-crunching, and bare-handed heart-grabbing gore and such). I guess my main complaint is that it was already an epic poem. Epic, people. It's not called epic because it's dull and needs a bit of sexing up; it's called epic because it's full of adventure and action and larger-than-life deeds. Hence when you decide to make a film about said epic, you don't need to toss in unnecessary subplots and extra carnage and Angelina Jolie's nude gold-dripping body. Yet this is the second horrible film version of Beowulf that I've seen. The other, Beowulf & Grendel, was a 2005 film that gave Grendel a son with the local witch. What's wrong with the original story? Nothing!
Ugh. Am full of disgust and righteous anger. I think I'll go look at lolcats.