Paramount Pictures

Mark Haddon

'Funny, exciting, earthy, saucy and visually remarkable, this modern interpretation of an old text is enjoyable and fascinating cinema. Though it must be pointed out that what you make of Beowulf may depend on how you experience it.'

Daniel Etherington, Channel 4 Film



When entering the cinema to watch Beowulf (rated 12A in the UK), I was expecting a child-friendly dramatisation of the (relatively) famous story of Beowulf and the fight against the monster Grendel and his mother, with computer-generated performances from Angelina Jolie, Ray Winstone and Anthony Hopkins. However, what I actually experienced was a phenomenal CGI blood-and-gore-fest which certainly did not justify the 12A rating that the film received.

The problem was not so much the content of the film, although the mention of wenches and seductive nature of Grendel's mother could be questionable to warrant this rating. The issue mainly lies with the fact that the quality of the Computer Generated Imagery is extremely realistic - especially in REAL D which was the format in which I watched the film. Wearing the trademark glasses with polarising lenses makes the action happen right in front of your face, including not only the point of a spear at the tip of your nose, but blood and gore literally flying all over the cinema.

To be honest, this would have been fine, and the film a shrine to the modern CGI wizardry we've come to expect if not for the group of children (vaguely around the age of 12) sitting on the front row. Clearly shocked by the content of the film, their only escape from the graphic realism was to run around and shout through the majority of the film; it's rather unbelievable that the BBFC had not considered that this would happen with what is, quite frankly, a pretty nasty story which is stunningly presented with its digitally-enhanced live action realism.

The BBFC states 'There is very little human-to-human violence, although at one point a man is torn apart by a monster (shown only in silhouette) and we briefly see his body being flung onto the floor. The fighting and violence is very similar to that found in parts of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy...' My issue with this is that, what you do see (especially compared to Lord of the Rings) is in excellent, pin-point clarity (thanks to digital projection) which the 3D presentation does everything in its power to amplify to make even more clear and obvious what is going on.

Don't get me wrong - I didn't dislike the film. Although slightly more shocking than I intially thought it would be, the digital production was very life-like, the pace of the film was good and the overall presentation extremely convincing. What concerns me somewhat is that this could be deemed suitable for children (albeit with parental accompaniment), which even Jolie (Grendel's mother) describes as 'remarkable' in an interview with the BBC.



Reviewed on 05/01/2008 by Sam


Reviewed item details

BBC: Beowulf violence 'shocked' Jolie:

BBFC Watch, UK film censor news 'Supporting the hype for Beowulf':

IMDB (From which pictures were sourced):

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On general release.



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