Plot: A great warrior named Beowulf (Ray Winstone) comes to a land in need of a hero. He attempts to battle a beast known as Grendel (Crispin Glover), but then Beowulf realizes the monster has a seductive mother (Angelina Jolie) who is even more evil.
Who’s it for: If you love stories of warriors and the monsters they must conquer, then “Beowulf” is for you. But keep in mind, it’s bloody, violent and pretty sexual for the PG-13 rating. And I can’t stress this enough, SEE THE FILM IN 3-D!
Expectations: I wasn’t one of the students forced to read “Beowulf” in school, so I wasn’t familiar with the tale. The action sequences looked great in the preview, but I was also excited about “Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within,” which was the first animated film to mirror live-action principles.
Ray Winstone as Beowulf: Yes, he’s just the voice, but with this animation, sometimes it’s hard to tell that isn’t Winstone on the screen. Beowulf is boastful about past heroics, and his lust gets the best of him, but anytime he pulls out a sword it turns into a fun ride.
Anthony Hopkins as King Hrothgar: It’s good to see Hopkins tap into his crazy side. The wine-guzzling king has a dark secret, but it seems there needed to be more time taken with this side story.
Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother: For some, seeing Jolie naked is going to be worth the price of admission, even if she is animated. I think we can all agree Jolie is perfectly cast as an evil seductress.
Talking: “I’m Beowulf, and I’m here to kill your monster.” You’d expect lines like this, but there needed to be a little more focus on story. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the amount of laughs John Malkovich receives as Unferth.
Sights and sounds: Outstanding. Earlier this year I thought “Meet the Robinsons” was the best 3-D technology I had ever seen, and now that crown goes to “Beowulf.” The creature Grendel is hideous looking and tiny details like noise hairs make this outstanding to look at.
Best Scene: It’s always great when a film saves the best for last. Beowulf comes full circle in his quest to save the kingdom. Though the boastful tale of Beowulf in a swim race is very entertaining as well.
Ending: Didn’t you just hear me? It’s the end. The lengths Beowulf is willing to go to get a couple extra inches of reach should sit with you well after the film is over.
Random Thoughts: Was all the laughter intentional? Beowulf fighting in the buff comes out like an elaborate SNL sketch. Plus, I think “Beowulf” proves that stories such as “Star Wars” can be told for years to come whether Harrison Ford and the rest of the gang are involved or not.
Rewatchability: Absolutely, and it would be interesting to watch without the 3-D just to see if it still captivates.
Animation has come a long way and “Beowulf” is capitalizing on this amazingly. This is not the future of films, but it is a future, especially for the action genre. The story doesn’t dive very deep; Beowulf is a cocky warrior who gets in over his head then seeks redemption, but the battles are where it is at. There are moments you’re convinced it’s real. It’s still difficult to get heartfelt emotion out of animation when trying to make it look like real life, but director Robert Zemeckis has crafted one of the great action/adventures of the year.
Overall Grade: 8