BEOWULF : RETURN TO THE SHIEL DLAN DS
Poetry In Motion
released OUT NOW! 2016 | 12 | DVD
Creators James Dormer, Tim Haines, Katie Newman
Cast Kieran Bew, Joanne Whalley, Ed Speleers, Holly Earl
The biggest mystery about Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands is its name. Not just because this 12- part ITV series bears about as much resemblance to the epic poem as it does to Muppet Treasure Island, but because the writers seem to lose interest in Beowulf about 30 minutes into the pilot.
As the series progresses and the politicking of various tribal leaders and their backstabbing relatives comes to the fore, Beowulf increasingly finds himself sent down to the woods for the B- plot of the week – usually hunting some CG beast. He spends the season being bested in fights by old men, women and thieves, and he even outs a bigot! The show has an interesting subtext about “mythical beast apartheid” – and our supposed hero is squarely in the human supremacist corner.
Flawed heroes can be a good thing, but not in a show like Beowulf. It might have Game Of Thrones pretensions but it’s actually closer to the BBC’s more trad Merlin. It needs a properly heroic hero for audiences to cheer on, not some morally grey bootboy.
Oddly, take out Beowulf and you have a half- decent show. The lavish production design, the lush cinematography and the OTT costumes all impress. There are some fantastic battles, and the CG creatures have a surprising amount of character. Sure, the dialogue’s often cheesy, the plotting’s clunky and some of the guest acting is embarrassingly am dram, but by the end Beowulf is nearly, so nearly, beginning to feel like a bona fide epic.
Extras None. Dave Golder
Beowulf’s Dark Ages village was built in an old limestone quarry in County Durham, which used to serve a cement works.
Some trees are extremely attractive.