Beowulf (PG-13)

Action/Adventure 113 November 16, 2007
By Luke Y. Thompson
Think you already know the epic tale? Not this version, you don't. Having apparently decided that the Christian monks who transcribed the oldest known version of Beowulf were clearly uptight puritans, screenwriters Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman have set things straight by incorporating Arthurian legend into the mix and turning Grendel's mother (Angelina Jolie) into a sultry sorceress rather than a violent hag. It's an interesting notion, but the result is that what used to be the heroic tale of a creature killer is now basically the story of an asshole jock who knocks up the slutty cheerleader, gets syphilis, and spreads it around. Thanks to performance-capture animation, pudgy Brit Ray Winstone plays Beowulf with a Schwarzenegger physique, and he seems to have adopted the Governator’s one-note acting style, too. The movie is worth seeing nonetheless, not just for the amazing final dragon battle and the scene in which a naked Jolie gives Beowulf's sword a hand job but also for the sheer bile and mean-spiritedness that pervade — which seems especially odd coming from director Robert Zemeckis, who brought us Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump. Beowulf may ultimately be viewed as a failure, but it's a fascinating one. And if you've ever doubted that the MPAA's ratings were a total joke, this movie clinches it: naked women, massive bloodletting, disembowelment, dismemberment, burning flesh, all in 3-D IMAX and rated ... PG-13?
Robert Zemeckis Brendan Gleeson, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Robin Wright-Penn, Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Crispin Glover, Alison Lohman, Charlotte Salt, Nick Jameson Roger Avary, Neil Gaiman Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis Paramount Pictures

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