I felt that this production deserved a separate page as it is not quite a 'straight' production and it is not quite a 'fictionalised' production.
First off, this is a 'no-budget' film, not a low-budget, a no-budget. The aim of this movie was to maximise profit for charity. All of the actors, camera men, set designers and constructors provided their services and materials for free in order that 100% of the takings for the production would be a contribution for cancer research. This should not be taken as a justification in itself for anything wanting in the film, and there is quite a bit that is wanting, but there is also much that is superlative. It is never the less a tribute to those who have dedicated their time and those who have given their money to make it happen.
This production has apparently annoyed some born-again-pagans because of its casting and envelope story which serves as an explanation for it. But the film does say that it is 'Based on the Epic Poem', not that it is the epic poem. Scott Wegener's film does not pretend to be a faithful depiction of Beowulf like the movie Outlander does not pretend to be a faithful depiction of Beowulf.
I am not averse to Jayshan Jackson and Damon Lynch III playing Beowulf and both actors turned in weighty performances which did the character justice. Damon made a convincing older version of Jayshan as well. The only caveat that I had was that the Beowulf character was a 2nd generation immigrant in Norse society, and as such would integrate with the society he has been born into even if he percieved himself as an 'outsider'. We know that a 2nd generation African (Septimus Severus) was a garrison commander of Hadrian's wall in the Roman period and all of the evidence we have of him is that he totally integrated himself into the society he found himself in. In terms of clothing and manner, he addopted the Roman form, he 'favoured the purple'. With this in mind, I found that within the story concept, Jayshan and Damon's dreadlocks were out of place and slightly irritating.
I would have preferred not to have the story envelope, not because I felt it didn't work, but that the sets were unconvincing. It would have been better to have made the village from some cheap flex-plywood than the CGI that was used. As a film, BPOTG was never going to be a hollywood blockbuster and the majority of the film was let down by the CGI work, which makes it appear more like a late '80s Time-Team reconstruction, I think that it would have been better not to have relied on it as heavily as it was. In most cases, such as the rendered snow around the coastguards when Beowulf first appears, it was still easy to realise that this was studio-work because of the sound-bounce being picked up by the microphones. It would have been better to leave the rendering off and let the set stand as it was.
Most irritating however is that there are some words in the American volabulary which should be padlocked into a trunk marked "On no account use in European Epics". But then even Hollywood haven't really got a handle on this problem yet. There were quite a few wincing moments in BPOTG.
So much for that which was lacking. This is what I liked...
The story was complete and well rounded. It concentrated on characterisation rather than action to tell the story, which is why this is good in comparison to the appalling Zemeckis movie. It depicted Viking society as it was, rather than knights in shining armour in stone castles (another failing of the Zemeckis effort). It kept as accurate to the poem as a no-budget film would allow and made a good job of it in the process. The dragon design was better thought out than the Zemeckis one too!
In my ratings, this is better than The Zemeckis Beowulf, but not as good as "Beowulf & Grendel". The latter does not have the dragon sequence however, so is not perfect either.
When all is said and done, this production aims to earn $1,000,000 for cancer research and I hope they achieve their aim. I am glad I purchased it.
Purchase it Here