1/30/16

BEOWULF (1999) - REVIEW


Long before Robert Zemeckis motion-captured the heck out of Beowulf, Christopher Lambert starred in this low budget sci-fi version of the story and the good news is that it was, indeed, about as good as it sounds.

And by that I mean both terrible and extremely amusing.

The 1999 film sets itself up as some kind of epic but it quickly runs out of budget after a mere one minor battle and 90% of the action then takes place inside a poorly-lit castle where, we're told, Beowulf must battle the beast Grendel and his vengeful mother. Unfortunately, the creature only seems to show up at night and the movie doesn't seem to have anything planned for the daytime scenes so expect a ridiculous amount of dull conversations about nothing and people inexplicably eating in current-day foil take-out boxes. Also, since the film finds itself visibly desperate for anything watchable about 20 minutes in it soon resorts to gratuitous cleavage and sex scenes, cheap comic-relief and slasher movie-style fake suspense, all to the sound of an ungodly techno-jazz-rock soundtrack which'll make you want to throw your TV speakers out the window.

Beowulf is one of those delicious bad movies that's clearly misguided on every level and wouldn't be at all watchable if it wasn't so darn amusing. Poor old Christopher Lambert looks like he's basically killing time until the film ends, clearly tired of delivering some truly awful lines throughout. Same goes for love interest Rhona Mitra who is stuck wearing a skimpy outfit and spurning out unnecessary exposition. To say the costumes and props are not very good would be a massive understatement: some helmets have no eye holes, others look like cardboard RoboCop heads and there's no rhyme or reason to the weapons the characters use. The special effects are equally bad, especially when it comes to the monsters which look like unfinished CGI mud, and I think the stuntmen believed they were acting in a gymnastics picture because Beowulf executes a somersault every other shot.

Beowulf may be a turkey of Dungeons & Dragons proportions with more than its share of dull moments but, as a whole, it proves itself to be one underrated bad movie. There's nothing redeeming about it except that it's tons of fun to poke fun at so if that's what you're looking for then you're in for a treat. Otherwise, you might want to stick with some other Beowulf adaptation.

Any other will do.

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