Da'ud Bob's Movie Review
May 2017

I'd actually been putting off reviewing this one for a while. I mean, really, even the poster for it was not attractive to me. The fact that it starred Christopher Lambert didn't help. (Don't get me wrong; Mr. Lambert has done a few films that I really liked. It's just that he's been in a lot more that were, to be blunt, pretty bad. So I already had my doubts about this one.) And the fact that one blurb touted it as a "sci-fi update of the famous 8th Century poem" was also, shall I say as charitably as I can, a bit off-putting. But our motto is, "We watch 'em so you don't have to," and I was thinking that I probably ought to get it watched and reviewed and over with and off my list and onto yours. And so it is that this month, Da'ud Bob reviews for you 1999's Beowulf.

Starring, as noted above, Christopher Lambert in the title role as Beowulf,* Rhona Mitra as Kyra, Oliver Cotton as Hrothgar, Götz Otto as Roland, Vincent Hammond as Grendel, Charles Robinson as the Weapons Master, Brent Jefferson Lowe as the Assistant Weapons Master, Will, and Layla Roberts as Grendel's mother, the movie broadly follows the general outlines of the story of Beowulf and his fights against Grendel and Grendel's mother, but adds a number of layers to it that do not appear in the original. In this story, Beowulf is a wanderer who learns about a man-eating creature called Grendel which comes in the night to devour warriors trapped at the "Outpost." The Outpost is ruled by Hrothgar. He has a beautiful and strong daughter, whose husband may have been murdered by the Outpost's master of arms, Roland. There's more to it than that, of course, including the fact that Grendel refuses to fight Hrothgar directly for reasons that don't come out until later, and Beowulf's half-non-human origins.

Good points: The movie is only 95 minutes long. The camera work and cinematography is way above par for this sort of movie.

Bad points: It's a very long 95 minutes. Faceless, eyeless helmets. The giant straight razor guillotine. The ram's horned helm. Auto-reloading crossbow. The post-apocalyptic "Outpost," with movable tower parts and flames of no discernable purpose. The scriptwriting. The ladder elevator. Gas lamps. The costuming. The intercom, with speakers. Armor made from miscellaneous hunks of metal welded together for form a cuirass.

Six breasts. Four gallons of blood. 43 dead bodies. Crossbow fu. Flail fu. Sword fu. Spear fu. Spiked mace fu. Kung fu. Claw fu. Knife fu. Fire fu. Giant straight razor guillotine fu. Arm rolls. Beowulf rolls. Roland rolls. Gratuitous skull mask. Gratuitous dirt. Gratuitous cleavage. (No, really!) Gratuitous candles. Gratuitous succubus. Gratuitous crotch groping. Academy award nominations to Christopher Lambert as Beowulf for being better in this role than I was expecting; and to Götz Otto as Roland for "Fight well, or die badly." A 92 on the Vomit Meter. 1 stars. Da'ud Bob says, "This isn't your grandfather's (or anybody else's, really) Beowulf. Check it out!"

* "Beowulf" is a kenning, "a conventional poetic phrase used for or in addition to the usual name of a person or thing, especially in Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon verse," for "bee wolf," or bear. Beowulf killed a b'ar when he was only three, a feat erroneously attributed by modern historians to a Davy Crockett.

Upcoming movies and miniseries to watch for!

Now playing, but not for long. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. (Formerly titled: Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur) The young Arthur runs the back passages of Londonium with his crew, not knowing his royal lineage until he grabs Excalibur. Instantly confronted by the sword's influence, Arthur is forced to make up his mind. He joins the rebellion and a shadowy young woman named Guinevere, he must learn to understand the magic weapon, deal with his demons and unite the people to defeat the dictator Vortigern, the man who murdered his parents and stole his crown to become king. Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Katie McGrath, Eric Bana, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey.

The fact that they keep pushing back the release date does not bode well for this film. Just sayin'. (Update: I was right. See the review here in July.)

No official website, just a Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/KingArthurMovie/

May 29, 2017 Still Star-Crossed. Television mini-series (7 episodes) on ABC. A period drama that picks up where the famous story of Romeo and Juliet leaves off, charting the treachery, palace intrigue, and ill-fated romances of the Montagues and Capulets in the wake of the young lovers' tragic fate. Based on the book by Melinda Taub. Torrance Coombs, Ebonee Noel, Medalion Rahimi, Carl Chambers.


June 30, 2017 The Little Hours. A young servant fleeing from his master takes refuge at a convent full of emotionally unstable nuns in the Middle Ages. Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza. I don't expect to see this one in wide release, or for it to stay very long in the theaters where it does show.

No official website yet.

July 10, 2017 Will. Television mini-series (10 episodes) on TNT. A drama about the lost years of young William Shakespeare after his arrival to London in 1589 -- when theatre was like rock and roll and a young man with a dream changed the world with his words. It's described as "a contemporary version of Shakespeare's life, played to a modern soundtrack that exposes all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance." Laurie Davidson, Olivia DeJonge, Mattias Inwood, Colm Meaney, William Houston.

Watch the trailer at http://www.tntdrama.com/shows/will.html

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