Set against the coming of Christianity, this is the story of the last hero: in 507, a monstrous troll wreaks havoc in the mead hall of the Danish king, Hrothgar. He offers rewards for the death of Grendel, so Beowulf, a great and boastful Geat warrior, arrives with his thanes. Beowulf sets aside his armor and awaits the monster; a fierce battle ensues that leads to Beowolf's entering the watery lair of Grendel's mother, where a devil's bargain awaits. Beowulf returns to Herot, the castle, and becomes king. Jump ahead many years, and the sins of the father are visited upon Beowulf and his kingdom. The hero must face his weakness and be heroic once again. Is the age of demons over? Written by
Don't waste your money on the 2-D version, this has 3-D written all over it!
I have never had the experience of seeing a 3-D movie before on the cinema, the only experience I have had with a 3-d film, only courtesy of some 3-d glasses coming free with a DVD, was Spy Kids 3-D, a movie while mildly entertaining isn't exactly the best film every to display the greatness of 3-d. So Beowulf today was my first 3-d experience, I went in expecting something good because of the 3-d, but I didn't expect the movie itself to be superb. Part of my reasoning behind this was because of the one and only experience I had had with Zemeckis and his new way of making movies. That movie was unfortunately the Polar Express, a supposedly happy tail that actually freaked me out more than most horror movies! So what an absolute delight to say that Beowulf not only works because of it being in 3-D (more on that brilliant factor later) but also the movie is a genuinely brilliant movie anyway. The motion capture isn't remotely creepy this time round and actually it seemed to make sense in some bizarre way as to why they did the movie like this. The actors surprised me big time, Ray Winstone delivering actually one of his best performances in a long while, Angelina Jolie playing the slinky seductress to perfection and Anthony Hopkins being a joy to watch on screen. Beowulf is an action packed, well written and entertaining piece of popcorn cinema. Just watch the dragon sequence near the end, every single person in my cinema was on the edges of their seat and looked in awe. The action sequences just amaze, and the dialogue sequences surprisingly really work as well. Unfortunately however if you see this movie in 2-D then you will not be experiencing Beowulf in my eyes, take off the 3-D this is a 9/10 movie, with the 3-D it gets the 10/10 rating with a blink of an eye.
As I've previously said the acting in the movie really caught me off guard. Ray Winston obviously is not the first actor who comes to mind when playing an ancient warrior. However when you see the movie and see the performance you understand why Winstone was cast. Sure his cockney acting at first seems a bit bizarre coming from the character, but after a while you see the subtlety of the performance and come the final half hour you realise he's quite possibly the best thing in the movie. He delivers a heartfelt and genuinely brilliant performance. Anthony Hopkins not only looks real in the movie, but he too delivers a performance truly worthy of Anthony Hopkins. Sometimes Hopkins can do a role for a sake of a role (see Mission Impossible 2), but here he seems to be having a blast as Hrothgar and he has some superb moments in the movie. Angelina Jolie plays the most interesting character of the movie, Grendell's Mother, alas she appears very briefly. But her few scenes stick firmly in memory, and her entry scene is one of the most beautifully pieces of cinema I have seen when watched in 3-D. Crispin Glover too has brief screen time as Grendell, but he delivers a heartfelt performance, in fact I felt genuine sympathy with Grendell. Glover might not be recognisable, but his performance shines through in the early scenes. John Malkovich and Robin Wright Penn too deserve considerably praise, as does a brilliant cast Brendan Gleeson.
So as I've said the 3-D really makes the movie have a cherry on top of an already beautiful cake. After they filmmaker get over the gimmick of chucking things at the screen the 3-D is used less prominently, until any action sequences, and when the action sequences begin I doubt you will draw a single breath. Grendell's attack on a beer hall is the opening action sequence, and it is surprisingly violent for a 12a and also amazing to behold. But its the dragon sequence and late battle sequence that stick firmly in mind. I shall not spoil them, but those sequences really did make me wish that every action movie ever made from now will be in 3-D. The problem with the 3-D being so good is that the 2-D version seems like a cash in, in fact the movie relies so much on the 3-D at times that I doubt the 2-D version is worth watching. Swords pointed at screens, the camera pans through trees, the multi layered effect it gives off, in 2-d it just won't work as well, so my advice is to find a cinema that does play it in 3-d, you'll get much more for your money if you do. The storyline and film making is also extremely effective. The subtle dialogue scenes, especially the stuff between Winstone and Jolie really are some of the highlights. Also the relationship between Beowulf and his queen is touching.
So are their any faults? As I've mentioned the 2-D version just won't be as good, but also the movie doesn't seem like it'll be that good at the start. In fact at the beginning, for five minutes, I was expecting to be bitterly disappointed. Thankfully that little slouch at the beginning is livened up with the arrival of Grendell, and from that point onwards you will adore the movie. This is Zemeckis' best movie since Back to the Future and definitely one of my favourite films of the year. Go and watch in 3-D and pray that more movies will be made like this in the near future.
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