(1hr 54mins) Starring: Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie. Director: Robert Zemeckis.
UTILISING the same sophisticated motion capture technology as The Polar Express, Robert Zemeckis’s computer animated re-imagining of the oldest surviving poem in the English language boasts dazzling fight sequences, lusty serving wenches and mythic creatures.
Jaws drop at this digitally enhanced live-action adventure, and that’s before the eponymous warrior sheds his clothes to fight the man-eating Grendel, or Angelina Jolie’s nymph-like form emerges naked and dripping wet to seduce the brawny hero.
Screenwriters Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary adapt the Anglo-Saxon poem into a three-act adventure, book-ended by terrific set pieces. Unfortunately, the story sags badly in the middle section and the tone errs towards the unintentionally camp or unnecessarily risque.
Rolling back the mists of time to Denmark AD507, the film settles in the realm of corrupt King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins), whose sins have condemned his people to brutality at the hands of savage beast Grendel (Crispin Glover). A great warrior (Ray Winstone) arrives by long boat on Danish shores. Aided by his loyal sidekick Wiglaf (Brendan Gleeson), Beowulf wrestles with Grendel and wounds the beast. The ogre flees and its mother (Angelina Jolie) swears revenge, forging a pact with her son’s attacker that seals the kingdom’s fate.
Beowulf is violent and gory with disturbing scenes of characters being torn limb from limb, fully warranting the 12A classification. As well as the traditional two-dimensional animation, Dolby 3D Digital prints of Beowulf will screen at selected multiplexes and large format cinemas will present Zemeckis’ eye-popping feature in IMAX 3D. The results are jaw dropping.