Tuesday 18th January 2022

Beowulf (12A)
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

I guess you could argue that Beowulf is the closest thing the English have to a mythology. It's a tale of unknown origin, recorded as a poem in the middle ages, following some Norse dudes who kill monsters. In particular, one town is attacked by Grendel, a massive slobbering freak who breaks people and eats them.

"Must maintain eye contact..."
"Must maintain eye contact..."

Enter Beowulf, renowned monster slayer and genuine hard case, who not only needs to take Grendel out, but also his bewitching mother and the rest of her brood. Along the way, he becomes king, marries a queen, makes trades with the demons of the land and... well, not much else to be honest.

Perhaps it's because the story is so old, but the whole thing is actually fairly simple, and the film itself skips years of Beowulf's life and only shows a few days of the rest of it. However, it's not the story that is this film's best feature.

Robert Zemeckis directs Beowulf, and has brought the same pioneering style to it as he used in The Polar Express. Although it is filmed with real actors, everything is painted over to create computer generated characters in a CGI world. The likenesses of Beowulf (played by Ray Winstone, even if he looks nothing like him) and the demon's mother (played by a mostly nude Angelina Jolie) are incredibly photorealistic at times, but unfortunately, the secondary characters are not as well done. Many of them are of the same standard as the characters in Shrek, for example, which cheapens the film slightly, making it seem more like an animated kids film and less realistic.

Zemeckis has also decided to release this one in 3D, as he did with The Polar Express, and it really shows in the direction. There are plenty of shots in the film that are clearly designed to show off the depth of 3D, but must be quite unremarkable on a normal cinema screen. There are even times when the action seems like a computer game, with the camera tracking Beowulf as he runs around fighting a big boss – I felt like I should be playing along at one stage!

For the record, if anyone wants to arrange it for me to play a game like this at the IMAX in 3D, I am on board with that.

There are moments in this film that are simply outstanding and the final, climactic action sequence may just be worth the price of your cinema ticket alone. However, the film is patchy in every aspect. Some dialogue is a bit naff, some of the characters aren't rendered that well, the story is oddly paced and quite simple and overall the impression is that this is just not as good as it could have been.

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Length: 113 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 16th November 2007

Top Five Rating: 70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0% (70.0%)
User Rating: 0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0% (0.0%)

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