Reviewed by: Michael Karounos
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
“The Departed,” “Cold Mountain”
“Fracture,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Hannibal”
John Malkovich, Robin Wright Penn, Brendan Gleeson, Crispin Hellion Glover, Alison Lohman, Angelina Jolie, Sharisse Baker-Bernard, Richard Burns, Chris Coppola, Kevin Dorman, Shay Duffin, Greg Ellis, Leslie Harter Zemeckis, Nick Jameson, Emily Johnson, Dominic Keating, John Littlefield, Chris Mala, Sebastian Roché, Charlotte Salt, Woody Schultz, Randy Shelly, Tyler Steelman, Nadine Stenovitch, Tim Trobec, Jared Weber, Tom West, Rik Young
“Back to the Future,” “Back to the Future Part II,” “Back to the Future Part III,” “Cast Away”
|Producer||Roger Avary, Steve Bing, Steven J. Boyd, Neil Gaiman, Buzz Hays, Josh McLaglen, Jack Rapke, Roger Roberts, Martin Shafer, Steve Starkey, Peter M. Tobyansen, Robert Zemeckis|
“Pride is the curse.”
In the 1999 version, Beowulf says:
In the 2005 version, Beowulf says,
“We’re all killers.”
In the 2007 version, Beowulf says,
“We’re all monsters.”
It is comforting to know that all three filmmakers are consistent in their degraded perspective of heroism and that all three agree that Man is inhuman. Fortunately for the rest of us, that perspective isn’t in the ancient text which adulates heroism, deprecates evil, and glorifies God.
The twice-stated premise of the movie is that the “sins of the fathers” are visited on the sons. Without giving away the details of the interesting twist lent to the ancient story by writers Neil Gaman and Roger Avary, the particular sin is lust which eventually causes the death of the three men who the movie carefully portrays as suffering from it.
The movie succeeds in its portrayal of a Beowulf (Ray Winstone) who is masculine, heroic, and convincingly conflicted without being emasculated, as Gerard Butler’s character was in “Beowulf and Grendel” (2005). At the same time, it is hard to take the animated Beowulf seriously when he moves like a stop-action cartoon and repeatedly displays his naked backside to the audience. It is a perspective that is not of primary interest to prurient women and is of no interest to heterosexual men. (This is especially true of the naked and overweight, bearish rear end of Anthony Hopkins, the sight of which can only appeal to a certain constituency which shall remain unnamed here.)
Similarly to the 2005 film, this most recent Beowulf subtly debases whatever is masculine in culture—heroism, husbandry, and fatherhood—while simultaneously glorifying the feminine. Women lust without penalty in this “Beowulf,” including the teenage wench who is Beowulf’s mistress. Rather than suffer for her transgression, she is actually comforted by the queen. Meanwhile, the queen is unforgiving of her hero/husband, Beowulf’s sin. Likewise, the serving wenches lust after Beowulf without penalty, but one of Beowulf’s warriors is killed when his lust for a wench gets the better of his common sense. In this movie, sexual transgression is all on the part of the men. The women are portrayed as innocent victims of men’s lust.
The character of Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother is similar to that of Sarah Polley as the witch in the 2005 movie in that she is the one whose metaphysical and sexual powers are greater than Beowulf’s. At one point, the beautiful demon grasps Beowulf’s uplifted sword and causes it to suggestively melt in her hand. In both movies, the women are more powerful than the men, purer than the men, and are both redeemed and redemptive, whereas the men are “damned” or simply weak.
More disturbing than the one-sided feminist portrayal of men as weak and venal is the persistent anti-Christian bigotry that seeps into, it seems, everything Hollywood produces. The first Christian reference in the movie occurs when John Malkovich and another character discuss Jesus while urinating at length. I’m sure that scene caused gales of laughter in the blue states, because there’s nothing more hilarious than making fun of the Jesus-believing rubes. Subsequent scenes show a grim Christian escort to the queen, a groveling convert (Malkovich), a burning cross tumbling in slow motion into the ruins of a church, and a decision not to pray to Jesus.
Later, a character, I believe, Beowulf says,
“The time of heroes is dead. The Christ God has killed them.”
Nietzsche was famous for saying that Christianity was a weak religion and had killed the unbridled Dionysian spirit in man which allows him to be a “superman.” It is typical of the confusion of the postmodern left that it cannot make up its mind. Is Christianity weak and insipid or is it murderous and powerful? Is lust a good thing or is it a sin to be punished even outside of a Christian context? Aren’t men supposed to be “supermen” or are women more powerful? These contradictions make ridiculous the premises of a movie which can’t think straight but, like the pigs in Animal Farm, can only bleat mindless formulations, in this case: “Men bad; women good.”
The movie, at its heart, evinces a secular Puritanism that is radically feminist. Simply put, sex is bad. There is no sex between Hrothgar and his wife Wealtheow; there is no sex between Beowulf and Wealtheow; the sex between Beowulf and his child-mistress reflects poorly on him (though not on her); sex with Grendel’s mother is always good for her and always bad for the man who has it with her. Marriage is a cursed state; a state without men, whether as demon or queen, is morally purifying. This is similar to the 2005 movie in which the witch has voluntary sex with the troll, but slaps and rapes the weak-willed Beowulf.
One of other ways the movie manages to have its cake and eat it too is to show extended scenes of a naked Angelina Jolie and still retain a PG-13 rating. Many reviewers said that this technology is the wave of the future. Perhaps it is, although there were many awkward moments when the movie played like a cartoon, and it was impossible to ascribe the on-screen emotions to anything human.
However, if filmmakers can show male and female nudity with impunity and still retain a PG-13 rating, then you can be sure there will be many more movies like this one, showing the naked form of Angelina Jolie. Watching her is not as disturbing to a Christian as watching the naked Mystique in the third X-Men, but director Zemeckis clearly understands that what is going to sell the movie is not the cheesy 3D action but the opportunity to see a PhotoShopped Jolie naked as a doll. Her character is mesmerizing because she seems less than human and more than animation. She’s a walking, talking soft-core porn illustration of a beautiful woman.
Technically, the movie is full of amateurish attempts to produce scenes of horrifying gore. It is as if Zemeckis asked the opinion of a room full of 13 year old boys what was the grossest kind of violence to depict, and they responded “Stab things in the eye!” There are at least three times when Beowulf stabs creatures in the eye, and actually comes through one of those times. This allows Zemeckis to drip 3D gore onto the audience, but because it is so over the top, the audience can’t relate the experience to anything imaginable and is unaffected. The better moments are those such as the rain falling, but even that is made ludicrous by the fact that the audience can see 3D rain falling on itself, but the character’s helmet remains perfectly dry!
The character of Grendel is poorly conceived. He is neither horrifying nor disgusting, but comes across as a bad artist’s attempt to depict both. The only interesting aspect of Grendel in the movie is when he converses in Old English with his mother and shows his childish, i.e. victimized, nature. Once again, Man is the evil, and the evil is Victim. We saw all that in the 2005 movie and tire of having to see the same, dull, ideological sermon over and over again.
This year’s version of Beowulf is anti-Christian, misanthropic, full of nudity, but otherwise childish in its conceptions. As always, read the book to learn that:
out of his mercy this man hath sent
to Danes of the West, as I ween indeed,
against horror of Grendel.
And to know that:
God is able
this deadly foe from his deeds to turn!
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.