I had the glorious task of watching Beowulf on DVD today. It was the director’s cut and I was looking for new scenes, but if they existed - they escaped my notice. I am guessing some of the battle scenes were a bit more violent, and a few shots simply escaped my eye. None the less, it was great to see the film again and although I preferred it with 3-D glasses; the picture quality was incredible and the film was still very watchable a second time around.
The special features on the DVD included: A Heroes 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 and Previews. I will not go into details on all the special features but will discuss a pair of my favorites. I am not a huge fan of special features; but this set kept me entertained (which is certainly a break from the norm). My love for the film fueled my interest, and I assume those that purchase this DVD will be in the same boat.
A Heroes Journey: The Making Of Beowulf
Love it or hate it, motion capture takes a ton of fucking work; and peculiar work it is. All the neon props and costumes made it look like everyone was acting in the world of Tron. To see the confused looks on the actors faces the day before shooting was hilarious, even when they first started acting in the suits - they seemed embarrassed. Only when the art director showed them concept pictures and “made them up” as costumed characters did their countenances start to change. They realized that they were skeletons for the characters that they could now see, take pride in and ownership of. Tom Hanks shows up in this segment for a quick pop in to say word to Zemeckis, and we also see them pitch Grendel to the man that was born to play him - Crispin Glover.
This segment was my favorite part of the special features. I thought this mini documentary was put together quite well.
The Art Of Beowulf
The art direction on this film was insanely thorough. The concept paintings are delightfully detailed and were very inspirational for the overall look of the film. They created additional miniatures, paintings, props and costumes as points of reference for the actors and animators. With so many talented artists on board, it made me wish they used costumed actors as opposed to motion capture. When possible I always prefer “man i suit” and I certainly think they had the talent here to make Beowulf motion capture, animated or live action. The artistic team behind this film was outstanding and it was a pleasure to see them build a world up from the script.
This film is an over the top, testosterone-fueled adventure tale where demons are slain, legends are born and kings are made by way of the sword. I love this film and think it should be a staple in every home library. It reminds us that: forgotten mistakes can live on to haunt us later in life, it is essential to know your weaknesses, and when fighting a dragon always go for the tender underbelly.
The only thing I would have added to the special features is a Crispin Glover / John Malcovich commentary track; that would be the stuff of legend.