Return To The Shieldlands in “Beowulf” (1X01) (Non-Spoiler Review)
Premieres January 23rd 10pm ET/PT
Starring: Kieran Bew, William Hurt, Joanne Whalley, Ed Speleers, Laura Donnelly and David Ajala
Between the title and the intro line, I think you may have a good idea what to expect from this upcoming mini-series. The pilot episode of Beowulf gives us a slight insight into a world long forgotten, where men live as warriors, by the sword and things such as trolls and giants weren’t just things of fantasy that exist in stories that we tell children.
Like it says in headline, I’m going to give you my thoughts without ruining a show that many of you may be eagerly anticipating, so here goes.
Based in Scandinavia, we follow Beowulf as he returns to his homeland Herot, to pay his respects to Hrothgar, the former King and someone who Beowulf looked up to. But it’s not much of a homecoming for him, as he is quickly pushed into a world of resentment, jealousy, and false accusations. Tension between Hrothgar’s son Slean and Beowulf swiftly become apparent and I would assume that this will play an ongoing part in the storyline. Add some monsters and sword play into the mix and you get an idea of what to expect.
What we have is a solid, if unspectacular, cast. The biggest of these is the familiar journeyman William Hurt (Lost In Space, A.I, Mr. Brooks) as King Hrothgar. Alongside Ed Speleers (Eragon, Downton Abbey, Wolf Hall) as his son Slean. Added to this are Kieran Bew (Da Vinci’s Demons) as the mighty Beowulf and Joanne Whalley (The Borgias, Gossip Girl, Navy Seals) as Queen Rheda, who are more known for their roles on TV series.
I’m glad that I mentioned Da Vinci’s Demons above as, for me, this has a very similar feel to that show. The set designs and the costumes are impressive and they have certainly seemed to put a lot of detail into these aspects, plus the score helps create an atmosphere that aids in transporting you back into the past (for me the music helps set the tone, be it a show or film).
The monsters that I mentioned previously are a downside for me, the Barghest we see in the pilot was particularly unconvincing. I can’t help but think that the cgi could’ve been used a little less in places and I’m certain it could be done to a higher standard even if this is a TV mini-series. Some of the dialogue was also very slow and failed to spark any interest in the characters or story.
I know that it’s the early days for Beowulf, not every show can grip or excite you straight from the word go, but there has to be something that makes you want to continue watching. I wanted and expected more action to be honest, especially after what we saw in the opening few minutes. It could be that the next episode will thrill, excite and amaze, I truly hope that it does for the people who want to watch it, but for me there are other things at the moment that I simply want to see more. So farewell Beowulf, each to his own adventure.