Beowulf (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/11/2007

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 118 mins

Hugely enjoyable, smartly written and stunningly animated fantasy epic, even if they haven't quite got the eyes right.

What's it all about?
Directed by Robert Zemeckis using motion-capture animation and adapted from the epic poem by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, Beowulf stars Ray Winstone as the Viking warrior Beowulf, who answers the call of King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins), to rid his kingdom of the hideous monster, Grendel (Crispin Glover). However, once Grendel is slain, Beowulf enters into a mysterious contract with the creature's mother (Angelina Jolie), who promises him the entire kingdom.

Sure enough, Beowulf inherits Hrothgar's throne, but his contract comes back to bite him years later in the form of a terrifying dragon that threatens to destroy the kingdom.

The Good
The script is excellent, throwing up several interesting themes as well as some amusingly bawdy dialogue. The voice cast are good too, particularly Hopkins and Glover, although Malkovich and Jolie adopt baffling accents that are practically impenetrable.

The film was designed to be seen in IMAX 3-D and as such, the effects are fantastic, using sweeping cameras that fully exploit the 3-D landscape. The climactic battle with the dragon, for example, is thrillingly rendered and unlike anything else you'll see this year.

The Great
The film is surprisingly raunchy in places, containing several scenes of almost-nudity, including one heaving cleavage shot that would put the Carry On films to shame. It's also impressively bloodthirsty, notably in a scene where Beowulf bursts out of a sea monster's eye.

The only problem with the film is that the motion-capture animators haven't quite got the eyes right, with the result that all the characters have the same oddly vacant expression. Similarly, while the majority of the characters strongly resemble the actors playing them, Beowulf seems to have been modelled on Sean Bean rather than Ray Winstone.

Worth seeing?
Beowulf is a hugely enjoyable adventure with a decent script, stunning animation and thrilling action scenes. It's also the kind of film the 3-D process has been waiting for - see it in IMAX 3-D if at all possible. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Beowulf (12A)
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Content updated: 20/05/2019 20:30

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