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Published on May 13th, 2008 | by simeon

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Beowulf

The classic Epic poem Beowulf has come to the big screen in a stunning CGI extravaganza under the direction of Director Robert Zemeckis.

For those not familiar with the poem, it is an ancient Danish poem that talks of the heroic exploits of the hero Beowulf, as he battles all manner of bizarre creatures. The poem was told orally from generation to generation and eventually became known to many as the source of much of the early great literature from the western world.

I first became familiar with the tale some twenty years ago during my early years in private school where our headmaster had it as required reading for all of his students in honors level English.
The film stays very close to the poem and tells the tale of King Hrothgar (Sir Anthony Hopkins), a troubled leader whose kingdom is under siege by a hideous creature known as Grendel (Crispin Glover).

During a brutal attack by Grendel which results in the loss of many lives, King Hrothgar promises half the gold in his kingdom to any hero who can rid the land once and for all of the foul creature that has caused so much suffering.

In short order, the heroic Beowulf (Ray Winstone), arrives with is army of warriors to take up the challenge. Beowulf is legendary for his exploits in vanishing monsters, but his boastful nature raises the concerns of Unferth (John Malkovich), who thinks that Beowulf ‘s reputation and ability is far more style than substance.

Eventually Beowulf battles Grendel, and accomplishes his goal but learns that the monster has a Demonic mother that to must be destroyed in order for peace to truly be achieved.
Beowulf sets off the kill the demon (Angelina Jolie), but finds himself unable to match her whiles, and enters into a deal that has far reaching repercussions.

The second half of the film deals with the consequences of Beowulf’s decisions and how having is not nearly as important as wanting, which leads to a spectacular and FX filled final segment.
The film is amazing, and for those lucky enough to see the film in 3D, filled with amazing visual treats.

While the film is in no way suitable for children due to the violence it contains, the story holds up very well centuries later, and provides a solidly entertaining tale of heroism, betrayal, and morality that stands the test of time.

I had concerns that the film would be a slap-dashed effort that was attempting to cash in on the success of “The 300”, but in actuality, I found this film to be far more entertaining and satisfying.
The voice work of the cast is solid, but it is clearly the visuals that drive this film, as well as the dynamic effects made possible by the latest advancements in 3D technology as the film literally bursts out of the screen.

Beowulf will not be for everyone as those unfamiliar with the work on which it is based may find it derivative or predictable, but when you consider this is literally the tale that started it all, you could make an argument, that it set the table for all future tales to follow.

4.5 stars out of 5.


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