A hot-blooded and incredibly lurid splash-page of medieval fantasy imagery and slick filmmaking. This one genuinely took me by surprise by how wet (bloody) and wild it was willing to get. Zemeckis’ knack for fluid camerawork and VFX gymnastics is on full display, making even the film’s limited square-footing (half of it takes place in a castle) feel epic and raucous. There’s a lot of imagination here. The design of Grendel, brilliantly performed by Crispin Glover, is especially traumatic and Zemeckis’ horndog tendencies go a long way to keep things lively and eye-popping. The butt-naked fight scene (complete with Austin Powers-esque mise-en-scene cock blocking) is a silly riot, and the drooling reveal of Angelina Jolie’s golden goddess pin-up bod is just so brazen and leering that you can’t help but applaud it. These are images I’m not likely to forget any time soon.
If Beowulf was rendered in live-action I don’t doubt it would have a more dedicated following by now as the mo-cap remains a bit of a hurdle to get over – the dead-eyes of Polar Express are still a problem – but the overall bombast of this soon dragged me in. Zemeckis is a terrific visual storyteller and he never lets the thumping pulse of this thing slow down or the gleeful brutality subside. It’s entertaining as hell. Honestly I’m kind of shocked this exists.
Watched on blu-ray