Saxon violence

Beowulf; Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, John Malkovich, Angelina Jolie, Brendan Gleeson, Robin Wright-Penn; Dir: Robert Zemeckis; Cert: 12A; 1hr 44mLarge scale battles, fire-breathing dragons, a beautiful naked enchantress and lots of spectacular, if somewhat gory, stunts; Beowulf, the epic Anglo-Saxon poem has been given that crowd-pleasing Hollywood treatment which should have the crowds banging on the doors demanding admission.

Andrew Clarke

Beowulf; Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, John Malkovich, Angelina Jolie, Brendan Gleeson, Robin Wright-Penn; Dir: Robert Zemeckis; Cert: 12A; 1hr 44m

Large scale battles, fire-breathing dragons, a beautiful naked enchantress and lots of spectacular, if somewhat gory, stunts; Beowulf, the epic Anglo-Saxon poem has been given that crowd-pleasing Hollywood treatment which should have the crowds banging on the doors demanding admission.

This epic post-production animation will go down in history in much the same way that The Jazz Singer did in 1927 - not because it's the greatest film that's ever been made; it's not by a long chalk - but it is extremely important, simply because it's the first 3-D digital movie that actually works.


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The Jazz Singer broke new ground because it proved that sound and pictures could be seamlessly married together and Beowulf shows that 3-D movies do have a future as a storytelling medium rather than merely as a gimmick.

Beowulf was the first movie conceived as a 3-D movie rather than as a conventional film that had 3-D elements tacked on to exploit the new technology.

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The film has been created using a post-production animation technique pioneered by Zemeckis in the popular Christmas film The Polar Express and, Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly. It's also a close cousin of last summer's Spartan epic 300.

Zemeckis shot the actors live on a sound stage against a visual effects green-screen and then animated them and their surroundings in post-production.

The result is a movie that has a slightly surreal air to it. You can see Anthony Hopkins is Anthony Hopkins and it's certainly John Malkovich as his Christian convert lieutenant and we have ample evidence that it is Angelina Jolie as the alluring and seductive Grendel's mother but there's a life-lessness about the eyes which is rather unsettling. Even more troubling is the fact that Ray Winstone appears to have been turned into Sean Bean.

It looks like Bean on screen and yet as soon as he opens his mouth, we are assailed by Winstone's cocky cockney voice and persona - which, if truth be told, is a little out of place.

But, the essence of the film is the old Anglo-Saxon poem of the noble warrior Beowulf (Winstone) who arrives in the Danish kingdom ruled over by King Hrothgar (Hopkins) to rid him of Grendel, the ogre, who regularly tears his loyal subjects apart and feeds on their innards.

Beowulf successfully slays the ogre and a grateful Hrothgar bequeaths his wife Wealthow (Wright-Penn) and his throne to the young warrior - unaware that Beowulf has been seduced by the alluring Grendel's mother (Jolie) - an enchantress with her own plans for the kingdom.

Whereas Zemeckis is not shy of showing Angelina Jolie golden and naked as she emerges from the inky blackness of her cave-pool, he laughably fights shy of showing anything of Beowulf's groin area. As he strips off to fight Grendel, Beowulf is given the full Austen Powers treatment with people and objects popping up at the last minute to preserve his modesty. It seems that audiences can handle Angelina Jolie's boobs but can't face Beowulf's genitals - if you know what I mean.

This then brings me to the subject of the certificate. I am not usually censorious but I have to say that this film is certainly not suitable either sexually or violence-wise for the under 12s. A 12A certificate allows under 12s to see the movie providing someone over the age of 18 accompanies them. Judging by content alone, this film deserves a 15 certificate.

Ipswich Cineworld is one of only a half dozen cinemas in the country showing a jaw-dropping 3-D version of the new Robert Zemeckis movie. The 3-D version of the film carries a £9 premium ticket price but we have five pairs of tickets to give away to lucky readers. All you have to do is answer the following question: Which seductive actress plays Grendel's mother? Answers on a postcard to Beowulf Competition, EADT, PO Box 355, Ipswich, IP41QL. Competition closes on Thursday November 22.

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