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BEOWULF by Robert Zemeckis

starstarstar *** Spoiler Warning ***

Beowulf (Ray Winstone) is a real medieval hero, loudmouth and womanizer, warrior and slayer of beasts, and he comes to King Hrothgar’s (Anthony Hopkins) halls to kill the monster Grendel that is terrorizing the kingdom. After killing Grendel, he is awarded the King’s golden drinking horn.
But the terror hasn’t ended with Grendel’s death – in the night, almost all of Beowulf’s men are killed, only his best friend Wiglaf (Brendan Gleeson) is spared. After the massacre, Hrothgar tells Beowulf that Grendel was his son – and that it was Grendel’s mother (Angelina Jolie) who killed Beowulf’s men. He also tells him where to find her, and Beowulf and Wiglaf ride to her cave to slay Grendel’s mother. Beowulf enters her lair alone, and she confronts him in the gestalt of a beautiful woman (a virtual representation of a nude Angelina Jolie) and offers him invincibility in exchange for a son.
Angelina Jolie as Grendel's Mother Beowulf is mesmerized by her beauty and accepts, and the deal is sealed with the golden drinking horn.
Returned to the king, Beowulf claims to have killed Grendel’s mother, but King Hrothgar sees through his blatancy and tells Beowulf that the curse that lay upon him is now the Beowulf’s curse. King Hrothgar jumps from the tower of his stronghold into the sea, his body is claimed by Grendel’s mother, and Beowulf is declared the new king. Thanks to the invincibility granted to him, the time of his rulership brings fame, victories and riches to the kingdom – but many years later, the curse catches up on Beowulf. Now it is his son who haunts the kingdom in the shape of a fire-breathing dragon.

Beowulf is based on, but not entirely true to, the ancient English poem Beowulf, and is filmed with the motion capture technology. The characters are CGI but resemble very much the actors they are based on – among them Angelina Jolie, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich and Robin Wright Penn, while the surroundings are digitally created. Sailing ships on the stormswept ocean, dizzying tracking shots of rough northern landscapes, eerie underground lakes, medieval fortresses, steep cliffs and horrific monsters (Grendel, the Dragon) make for a visual feast, and in combination with gory fight and action sequences let you forget the thin plot for much of the 113 minutes running time. And the third monster – a digitally created nude Angelina Jolie – will be responsible for a lot of clicks on the pause button once Beowulf appears on DVD.
But the strength of motion capture and CGI can’t hide it’s weaknesses – despite all the technology and the contingent of top actors who lend their voices, faces and motions to the CGI-cast the “acting” even of the main characters is wooden, while the extras come across like puppets or characters from a computer game.
Another humble step (but not even close to a breakthrough) into the direction of CG-moviemaking, but actors can sleep sound – it will be a long time before CGI-characters will replace their flesh-and-blood counterparts.

Ray Winstone and Anthony Hopkins - Beowulf and King Hrothgar  Angelina Jolie as Grendel's Mother and Ray Winstone as Beowulf 

Beowulf Movie Trailer

One Response to “BEOWULF by Robert Zemeckis”

  1. JoeOE18 Says:

    I think if you’d seen this in 3D (assuming you didn’t) that you would have had a higher opinion of it. I would definitely agree that it’s a 3 star movie, but in 3D all the set pieces and even just scenes of ordinary acting look more impressive – especially some of the climactic action sequences. 3D is not without it’s imperfections, sometimes you could see echoes of the picture and it’s more strain on the brain, but I just thought it was worth pointing out that there is a difference in entertainment value between the 3D and non-3D versions.

    Joseph Ewens… (

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