(out of 5)

It’s no easy task making something entertaining out of the English language’s earliest known narrative work, so don’t be too harsh on Robert Zemeckis if he didn’t make a complete winner out of it. In this adaptation of the Scandinavian myth that predates all known literature, a village is besieged by the monster Grendel, who attacks and kills people every night while the king () makes merry in his hall. Handsome hunk Beowulf () comes from afar and kills the beast, then sets after its sexy dragon mother () and comes back claiming to have killed her too. Whether or not he did is the reality that catches up with him years later, when he is an old man who has been reigning as king of the land with his predecessor’s beautiful wife (). Although the film used real actors on real sets, it’s all been overlayed with computer animation much like Zemeckis’s previous effort The Polar Express, with many of the actors appearing as themselves (though Winstone definitely doesn’t).  Screenwriters Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary should be credited with doing just enough tweaking to make the tale entertaining to modern audiences without pandering to current sensibilities, but the overall effect is hollow—the main character is never more than a symbol of storytelling, and his quest never becomes a matter of emotional necessity. Still, the animation is gorgeous and the climactic dragon chase is terrific.

Paramount Pictures, Shangri-La Entertainment, ImageMovers

USA, 2007

Directed by

Screenplay by , , based on the epic poem by 

Cinematography by 

Produced by , , Robert Zemeckis

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by


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