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  Publicity Stills of "Beowulf"
(Courtesy from Warner Bros)

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast : Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, John Malkovich, Brendan Gleeson, Dominic Keating, Alison Lohman, Robin Wright Penn
RunTime: 1 hr 50 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: NC-16 (Violence and Some Nudity)

Official Website: www.beowulfmovie.co.uk

Opening Day: 15 November 2007


In a time of heroes, the mighty warrior Beowulf slays the demon Grendel and incurs the wrath of its monstrous yet seductive mother in a conflict that transforms a king into a legend. Groundbreaking director Robert Zemeckis offers a vision of the Beowulf saga that has never been told before…

Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Shangri-La Entertainment present an ImageMovers Production of a Robert Zemeckis film, “Beowulf,” starring Ray Winstone in the title role and Anthony Hopkins as the corrupt King Hrothgar, as well as John Malkovich, Robin Wright Penn, Brendan Gleeson, Crispin Glover, Alison Lohman and Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother. Neil Gaiman (“Mirrormask,” the graphic novel “Sandman”) & Roger Avary (“Pulp Fiction”) adapted the legend for the screen.

Movie Review:

First things first, the movie’s much-hyped scene of an animated Angelina Jolie surfacing from the water is definitely worth any schoolboy’s ticket price – the sexy image seems so real, we can’t get it out of our minds. Thanks to director Robert Zemeckis’s (What Lies Beneath, Cast Away) vision and the technology of motion capture (which he first tried out in 2004’s The Polar Express and only got lukewarm response), Jolie’s curvaceous figure, high-heeled feet and whipping tail look so real, you’d want to reach out your hand and touch them.

No wonder our friends at the censorship board slapped it with a NC16 rating for violence and some nudity.

Based on an Old English heroic poem of anonymous authorship around AD700, the violence in this animated picture is provided by the protagonist of the movie, Beowulf, who spends a fair bit of time slaying demons. He must battle and defeat Grendel, a grotesque monster which has been terrorizing King Hrothgar’s kingdom. After killing the creature, Beowulf gets into trouble with its evil and seductive mother, and so begins his dreadful curse.

The brutally fierce battle scenes are bound to keep you at the edge of your seats as Beowulf sweats it out to rid the world of evil. Slimy gigantic demons and scaly flying dragons are what you can expect for Beowulf’s enemies, and the bloodily vicious fights may not go down well with those with weak stomachs.

The constantly moody shades of grey and blue do not help to make things cheery either. There is a gloomy air throughout the 110-minute movie, although funny one-liners from Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary’s screenplay do pop up occasionally to amuse the unsuspecting viewer.

There is no doubt that the filmmakers are banking on the big names who have lent their voices to this movie. Besides gravely providing the voices of various characters, actors like Winstone, Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Robin Wright Penn and Alison Lohman also had their motions captured on computers and then recreated with technology into realistic settings. Although there are still a few moments which are far from perfect, the movie is still an overall improvement from Zemeckis’s last holiday movie effort using motion capture technology.

But credit still goes to the many visual effects artists who have managed to capture the life-like expressions of the actors’ real life counterparts in the CGI picture. However, from what we remember, the last time we saw Winstone in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (2006), the English actor didn’t look like Beowulf’s often topless (and in one scene, naked!) hunk with six pecs.

Ah, the wonders of animation indeed.

Movie Rating:

(Besides being entertained by the wham-bham action sequences, you’d be seduced by the wonders of today’s animation technology)

Review by John Li


. 300 (2007)

. Apocalypto (2006)

. The Polar Express (2005)

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