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DVD Review: Beowulf (Unrated Director's Cut)


I only vaguely remember reading Beowulf back in middle school or junior high or whenever it was that I actually read it. And actually, except for Grendel's attack on the grand hall, nothing about the story comes to mind. So I went into this film with pretty much no advanced knowledge of what to expect story-wise, and I came out of it thoroughly satisfied. Apparently the plot deviated from the original poem a bit, which I'm sure will tick some people off, but then again so did the Lord of the Rings films, and those were fantastic. I won't say Beowulf is nearly as good as those, but it was action-paced, interesting, had great computer graphic art and animation, and was just all around entertaining.

The story starts in a great hall were a king and his men are partying like it's 1999. Had telephones been invented, the neighbors would have called the cops and had the party shut down, but since that's a no-go, the neighbor decides to pay them a little visit. Unfortunately for our party animals, their neighbor turns out to be a twelve foot tall monster capable of ripping men in half with its bare hands and biting their heads off, munching on their skull, and drinking their blood straight from the neck. Jeeze, can someone get this monster into therapy!

The king sends word for assistance in killing this foul beast, and an oh-so-modest hero by the name of Beowulf answers his call. I mean this guy is like the emperor of arrogance! Hellz yeah, peeps, I'll slay your demon, don't fret it, just chill. I won't even use a weapon, neither. Yo, I'll even go one better and take that sucker down while butt-naked! Okay, so maybe he didn't say it quite like that, but you get the general idea. Of course, if he can pull it off, who cares how big of a head he's got! The king sure has confidence in him, but there are others who doubt the tales of Beowulf's past victories.

I won't go into any detail beyond here because I don't want to reveal any surprises. But I will say that the character and creature design here is all very good. Beowulf is the staple of fitness, looking even more ripped than those Spartans in 300, and this is quite a contrast to the actor that does his voice and motion capturing. And Grendel is perfect as a savage monster yet also giving the impression of a frail, tortured being. He is fearsome, frightening, and yet still has a human quality to him. Angelina Jolie as the witch is simply gorgeous, but I think the best of the bunch is the dragon. this was the most realistic mystical dragon I've ever seen in any film, and I've seen a lot of dragon movies.

At any rate, for those who don't know the story of Beowulf, I think this movie will impress. There are a bunch of extra features here, most of which were pretty good. There is a making-of, which show how they do all the motion capture, there's a featurette about how they designed the creatures, there's one about the origins of the Beowulf story, and there are some deleted scenes, though they use rough 3D animation, not the nicely polished stuff we see in the film. All-in-all, I'd say it's worth checking out.

Beowulf (Unrated Director's Cut), released by Paramount, is available starting February 26, 2008.

Press Release: Beowulf (Unrated Director's Cut)

Exploding onto the screen with breathtaking effects and exhilarating storytelling, the groundbreaking and visually stunning epic adventure BEOWULF makes its DVD and HD DVD debut on February 26, 2008 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Academy Award®-winning director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) utilizes state-of-the-art technology to conjure a world the likes of which has never been seen before in “an astonishing experience” that qualifies as “a work of art” (Jeffrey Lyons, NBC’s “Reel Talk”). Starring Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart), Anthony Hopkins (Fracture), Ray Winstone (The Departed), Robin Wright Penn (Hounddog) and John Malkovich (Eragon), BEOWULF tells the ancient tale of a great warrior who faces many demons both on the battlefield and within himself. The result is “a film people will be talking about for years” (Jeffrey Lyons, NBC’s “Reel Talk”).

The BEOWULF Director’s Cut DVD and two-disc HD DVD offer a plethora of behind-the-scenes material to further enhance the viewing of this masterful cinematic experience including “The Making of BEOWULF”, “Designing the Creatures of BEOWULF”, “The Origins of BEOWULF”, “Creating the Ultimate BEOWULF”, “The Art of BEOWULF”, deleted scenes and more. BEOWULF also will be available on DVD in its original theatrical version along with “The Making of BEOWULF”.

BEOWULF Director’s Cut DVD

The BEOWULF Director’s Cut DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround, French 5.1 Surround and Spanish 5.1 Surround and English, French and Spanish subtitles. The disc includes the following special features:

  • A Hero’s Journey: The Making of BEOWULF
  • Beasts of Burden: Designing the Creatures of BEOWULF
  • The Origins of BEOWULF
  • Creating the Ultimate BEOWULF
  • The Art of BEOWULF
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer

BEOWULF Director’s Cut HD DVD

The BEOWULF Director’s Cut two-disc HD DVD is presented in 1080p high definition with English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus and English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The following special features are presented in standard definition except where noted:

Disc 1:
  • In The Volume—feature length picture-in-picture track including motion capture performance, animatics and storyboards
  • Web Enabled Features
    • BEOWULF Profiler
Disc 2:
  • A Hero’s Journey: The Making of BEOWULF with Optional Pop Up Trivia and Additional Featurettes (HD)
  • The Journey Continues (HD)
    • The Volume (HD)
    • “T” Pose (HD)
    • What is the E.O.G.? (HD)
    • Lay of the Land (HD)
    • Givin’ Props (HD)
    • Scanners (HD)
    • Stunts and Rigs (HD)
    • Plan of Attack (HD)
    • Fight Me (HD)
    • Baby It’s Cold Inside (HD)
  • Beasts of Burden: Designing the Creatures of BEOWULF (HD)
  • The Origins of BEOWULF (HD)
  • Creating the Ultimate BEOWULF (HD)
  • The Art of BEOWULF (HD)
  • A Conversation with Robert Zemeckis (HD)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD)

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