I was really impressed by this film. It sensationalizes certain aspects of the story but even those are part of historical accuracy since the whole point of the Beowulf story is about the legitimacy of our heroes and legends. The computer animation is generally phenomenal, though there are one or two shots where something feels a little artificial (like Angelina Jolie’s face from a couple angles). But most of the time the animation is stunning: the water droplets dripping off Beowulf’s chest when he climbs out of the water looks photographically real. Amazing. The key for me, however, is not mere realism but how well the characters act and provoke emotion from the audience, and in this regard, the acting and animation worked extremely well. The tormented monster Grendel is truly a hideous creation, but somehow still conveys human-like emotion and evokes sympathy.
The story is quite authentic. It tells of the hero Beowulf coming to the Danish king to rescue his kingdom from the dreaded monster Grendel. Beowulf boasts of his prowess but there are some questions as to his legitmacy. Is he a real hero or a fraud? But after he kills Grendel, all are convinced. But then Grendel’s mother, a demon-thing, attacks the town in revenge, and it’s up to Beowulf to deal with her. So far the story’s simple, but then it becomes complicated, as we learn there are secrets hiding: Grendel is the old king’s son, a hideous creation, the spawn of human and demon coupling. Grendel’s mother transforms herself into a beauty and seduces Beowulf, and he falls into the same trap as the old king. We then cut to many years later with Beowful now the old king and history repeating itself as his own son, a new monster, is attacking the village. This time Beowulf, after decades of hero worship and feeling guilty because he knows he is no hero, must save the kingdom again. This story is an incredible one, especially for such an ancient tale, and this version of it brings its lessons and message to a modern audience where hopefully people will see how vital and current those teachings are. Who are our heroes and why? What does being a hero feel like? How must today’s celebrities, today’s “legends” feel about their role? Are they frauds or merely playing their part? Lots of fascinating questions.