Beowulf reviewed ... in verse.

Reviews of the latest films.
Nov. 16 2007 11:12 AM

Beowulf

A review in verse.

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Lo! Let this humble scribe unlock her word-hoard
To tell of great Zemeckis, he of Gump
And Contact, Back to th' Future, Cast Away.
He, stone-romancer, framer of Roger Rabbit,
Hollywood myth-molder, box-office bard.

Ray Winstone as Beowulf.
Ray Winstone as Beowulf.
Dana Stevens Dana Stevens

Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic.

Far had he fallen with Polar Express, An animated washout whose technique Obscured its content, thanks to CGI. The Z-man's new technique, performance capture, Looked creepy in those days. The critics snarled.

But brave Zemeckis takes them on again
With Beowulf, a 3-D spectacle
Like none before. The Anglo-Saxon poem,
Dreaded by school kids since the world was young,
His manly grip reshapes to graphic novel.

It all begins in Hrothgar's hallowed halls.
By Anthony Hopkins played, this Danish king
Partakes of mead and merriment one night
Alongside fair Wealthow, his noble queen
(Robin Wright Penn, snatched from the bed of Sean).

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But havoc's in the works: A foul beast,
Grendel by name, by Crispin Glover voiced,
Bestrides the mead hall, butchering at will,
Head-crunching, hurling, ripping limb from limb,
Then flees with quarry to his mountain lair.

Saddened, King Hrothgar summons Beowulf,
A foreign hero, to defend the Danes.
Ray Winstone, chubby star of Sexy Beast,
Now digitally remade as a hunk,
Gives flesh to this 6-foot-6 superman.

After a splendid battle—in which, nude,
His manhood hidden Austin Powers-style
'Neath sconce and scabbard painstakingly placed,
The hero slays the monster—Grendel flees,
To die beside his mother in their den.

And what a mother! Naked, drenched in gold,
With nipples airbrushed to avoid an R
And feet tricked out with built-in high-heeled shoes,
Brad Pitt's hell-bride emerges from the bog
To take revenge on he who slew her son.

Thus bows the movie's second, lesser half,
When grief and guilt—that psychobabble stuff—
Displace the gleeful carnage of the first.
Instead of killing Grendel's sultry dam,
Dense Beowulf lies with her, then lets her live.

Two score and 10 years onward, now a king,
The 'Wulf will face the wages of his sin.
A golden dragon ravages the land,
Of origin unknown—just take a guess!—
And Beowulf must fight him, die, or both.

Despite the second hour's bogging down
In royal squabbling and dull self-reproach,
This final battle thrills and charms at once.
The airborne chase is monumental fun,
The hero's prowess whopping. None alive

Could call Zemeckis subtle; but his style
Well suits the poem's crude and earthy brawn.
Comic-Con geeks and cinephiles alike
Will gape at the resplendent imagery
(But don ye specs, and see it in 3-D).

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