Theatrical Trailer-1.78:1, Dolby Digital 2.0
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1999|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Graham Baker|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The most important point to remember about Beowulf is that for all intents and purposes, there really is no plot. The story is set at an indeterminate point in the future where the Earth has been laid to waste, and the motif was meant to resemble a mixture of the Middle Ages and the post-nuclear world. The only part of this film that reminds us of the fact that we are looking at a time closer to 2500 AD than 1500 AD is the presence of loudspeakers within the castle where most of the action takes place. Beowulf (Christopher Lambert) is a claymore-swinging knight who repeatedly hints that he is immortal and has been walking the earth for a long, long time. During his travels in the earliest parts of the film, he happens across a damsel in distress that some angry villagers have decided to tie to a board and cut in half with a rather crude-looking oversized guillotine. Beowulf rescues this poor woman, and takes her off to his castle, where a rather fake and stupid looking CGI creature has been woodenly munching its way through the populace. Between this creature and its humanoid mother, Kyra (Rhona Mitra), enough stupid dialogue and photography is shared to kill off at least half of a sane audience. Beowulf woodenly and annoyingly hunts the monster down. As far as I am concerned there are two types of extremely bad movie. The first type is the much-loved type in which the film in question is so utterly bad that it becomes good, at least in terms of entertainment value. Beowulf firmly belongs in the other kind of crappy film: the kind where it is so abominably bad that it isn't even worthy of a VHS cassette.
This film takes me by the hand and leads me towards the conclusion that once you've made an absolute stinker of a film (and I mean one of the second kind) such as Mortal Kombat, you should never be allowed to make another movie for as long as you live. Think of all the agony the human race could be spared if we had such laws in place: Roland Emmerich would never have been allowed to make Godzilla or Independence Day, and the people responsible for Beowulf would not be allowed to do it ever again. We must petition the government of at least every first-world nation to make this law come to fruition; together, you and I can strike a blow against the ability of film studios to tarnish their own catalogues with trash like this!
Now, while I am complimenting the transfer itself, you would think that these things would add up to a watchable film and an entertaining visual experience, right? Well, to put the real problem with the visual aspects of this film in a nutshell, the cinematography and the special effects are utter crap. The camera angles used in many shots are just plain nonsensical, and the subjects of many of the shots, especially the CGI portions, are not all that much to rave about, either. The colour saturation was deliberately muted in the scenery, presumably to give this portrayal of the future a certain Mad Max-esque quality, but it was also quite strangely vibrant in such things as the actors. One telltale sign of a crap cinematographer that can be found in this film is the way in which Christopher Lambert's white hair glows like a flashlight in one nighttime sequence.
There were no MPEG artefacts at any point in the transfer, which is surprising when you consider the stress that some of the aforementioned shots would have placed upon the compression. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor aliasing in some sequences, as well as the odd frame here and there that appeared to be off center with the rest of the film. Film artefacts consisted of some small white marks on the negative, but these were very minor and rare. The artefacts are nowhere near as detrimental to the film as the film itself.
The score music is credited to "Ben Watkins for Juno Reactor", while the credits also make mention of a music supervisor by the name of Patricia Joseph. This would imply that someone was standing over the composer in order to make sure that their output complimented the film and remained completely listenable, right? Wrong. The music is about as good as the film it accompanies, and will make you want to grind Ben's and Patricia's fingers into an electric pencil sharpener. In that respect, it was slightly more entertaining than the darn-awful boring excuse for a movie that they were playing at me. In a nutshell, this is a great contender for the title of Numero Uno in "worst film score ever captured on celluloid".
The surround presence was basically your standard B-grade soundfield, with the surround channels receiving a great deal of use to support the action sequences before the mix reverted to mono for the absolutely awful dialogue. Lots of fake-sounding special effects during such incredulous and utterly ridiculous moments as Christopher Lambert's pointless back-flipping made their way into the rear channels, as did some sword-swinging sounds. The subwoofer made a lot of rumbles and crashes that were mostly in sync with the onscreen action, but the bass channel is so ridiculously overemphasized in the film itself that it soon becomes more of a distraction than anything else. Funnily enough, there was very little to distinguish the Dolby Surround English soundtrack and its Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish besides the very slightly more discreet placement of sounds within the field in the case of the Spanish dub. Both soundtracks sounded a lot like remixes of Dolby Stereo source material.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is very ordinary.
This is one of the few films where I am happy that there are no extras.
|DVD||Grundig GDV-100D/Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsong CS-823AMF (80cm)/Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|