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Beowulf & Grendel Blu-ray Review

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by AVForums Nov 13, 2007

  • Movies review

    4
    2,406

    Beowulf & Grendel Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £18.13

    Picture

    Beowulf & Grendel is offered in 2.35:1 at 1080p using the MPEG-4/AVC codec. The print itself is fine, no dirt, marks or scratches can be seen and obviously that's the way it should be for a film only a couple of years old. Contrast bears up well with whites well contained in their borders, the icy flows of Beowulf's journey coming across particularly well as does the vistas in the barren Icelandic wastelands. Dark scenes never lose detail with scenes such as the dimly candle lit hall still offering up all its detail from the foreground to further back into the frame, shadow detail here and on hunting trips to capture Grendel always fine and solid.

    The colours suit the film well and for the period of time that Beowulf & Grendel is set in. A narrow, muted palette is on offer predominantly using the autumnal brownish yellows and sombre greens. These like the whites remain locked within their respective borders with no sign of bleed anywhere.

    Noise and blocking is a little distracting and can be seen on more than a few occasions. On the beach scene as Beowulf lands noise is apparent on the left hand side of the frame as the beach recedes into the distance. Edge enhancement also gets an ugly look in with a fine halo effect encompassing our warriors as they stand out against the bright backgrounds. Also for a high definition feature this also lacks that pop which we have come to expect.
    Beowulf & Grendel Picture

    Sound

    A thunderous PCM 5.1 track is the main offering here. It is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 5.1 and an English ADS service but if you can take advantage of it then opt for the PCM. In the main there is little difference to distinguish the two main tracks, however there are some deep heavy bass work on offer with the PCM which is not emulated but the standard Dolby 5.1 offering. The LFE on the PCM is deep and forceful and although the Dolby track will still test your sub it doesn't have that chest thumping effect on display from the higher quality PCM.

    The score is beautiful, permeated by percussion which whilst in the main will come from the fronts also sneaks its way to your rears and creates a haunting atmosphere which suits the landscape on offer on screen. The multitude of drums used can be clearly identified no matter which speaker they are emanating from. The score is wide and immersive widening the stage at the fronts, and equally opening the surround filed at your seating position.

    Dialogue in the main is crisp and clear but sometimes can get lost a little in those deep tones, the higher tones of sword upon sword ring out well and reverberate within your room with added echoes coming from the mountains up on screen. When our heroes ride into battle the thunder of the horses hooves can be heard from both your fronts and the surrounds. When faced with a tremendous flowing waterfall your sub goes low for what seems like an eternity.
    Beowulf & Grendel Sound

    Extras


    • Commentary with Sturla Gunnarsson, Andrew Berzins, Wendy Ord and Debra Hanson

      First assistant director Wendy Ord and costume designer Debra Hanson join the director and screenwriter who are credited on the cover of disc. This is an enjoyable commentary revealing what a labour of love this picture was to Gunnarsson and Berzins. Gunnarsson himself of Icelandic decent always wanted to film there, to show the landscape off in all it's glory and felt that Beowulf would be ideally suited. Berzins relates some of the deviations from the original text itself and the reasons why whilst Ord and Hanson fill in as needed when discussion relates to their area of expertise. The team work well together, impart a lot of information about the design of the film, its history and the often destruction of their sets and equipment at the hands of the Icelandic weather.

    • Storyboard Sketch. - 2:44mins

      A sequence of storyboards from one scene in the film followed by the actual scene itself is on offer here. I can enjoy these but I feel they are always best served up in split screen mode where one half shows the storyboard, the other the actual scene.

    • Three Trailers

      High definition trailers Beowuf & Grendel, a modern Macbeth and The Other Conquest.



    There's not that much on the disc really. Commentaries are two a penny these days and have to be something special to get noticed or recommended and this one can certainly fall into that category.

    It's a shame that the highly regarded Wrath Of Gods - The Making of Beowulf & Grendel documentary never found its way onto this disc. Covering the production set backs and how the film was almost pulled for going over budget this would have been a worthy addition in the extras section.
    Beowulf & Grendel Extras

    Verdict

    Many here will be off to see the newly released Beowulf at your local cinema. I would imagine that not many have waded through the 3000+ lines of the original poem, so if you're wanting to know what you're letting yourself in for then I can certainly recommend giving this a try beforehand. The scenery is beautiful, Iceland's desert rock wastelands adding depth to this production as few other locations could have.

    Butler produces yet another astonishing performance as the determined friend but battle weary Beowulf who although has to complete his mission for his old trusted friend comes to realise that he hasn't been told the whole story and if he had been he might have made different choices. What he's hunting out there is not creature but a sympathetic being that has feelings and has itself been wronged.

    Wonderful cinematography but a transfer that is let down a little by some noise and other artefacts detracts from this package as a whole. By no means disastrous it just doesn't quite come up to spec for what we've come to expect from newer high definition releases. Still in saying that the story itself is engaging and presented well and as such you might like to pop down to your local store and give this a rent before deciding to buy. Recommended.
    Beowulf & Grendel Verdict

    The Rundown

    Movie

    7

    Picture Quality

    6

    Sound Quality

    8

    Extras

    5

    Overall

    7

    7
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