Based on an Old English epic poem, Beowulf
represents a landmark meeting of pop culture, technology, and good old-fashioned storytelling. Director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump
, The Polar Express
) uses cutting edge motion capture technology to bring this fantasy to life, working with screenwriters Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction
) and Neil Gaiman (DC Comics' Sandman
) to create a rich, complex, and very entertaining meditation on the nature of heroism. To bring his deconstructionist epic to life, Zemeckis recruited a powerful cast, including Anthony Hopkins, Brendan Gleeson, Robin Wright-Penn, and John Malkovich, with Crispin Glover as the monstrous Grendel and Angelina Jolie as his seductive mother. To play the title character, Zemeckis enlisted Emmy Award-winning actor Ray Winstone (The Departed
, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
). A decidedly adult adventure possessing of much gore and mature innuendo, Beowulf
opened at the top of the North American box office, grossing $27.5 million over the November 18, 2007 opening weekend.
Hedonistic, womanizing King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins) has earned the cold shoulder of his beautiful young queen Wealtheow (Robin Wright-Penn), but her disapproving gazes don't deter him from engaging in nightly parties at the kingdom's mead hall Heorot. But their revelry irritates the monstrous demon Grendel (Crispin Glover), who visits the hall enraged, slaughtering and devouring Hrothgar's men. His people paralyzed by fear, Hrothgar calls for a hero, and who should arrive on his shores but Beowulf (Ray Winstone), a macho warrior whose muscles are only matched by his overbearing bravado. Beowulf gravely intones, "I will kill your monster," which he proceeds to attempt barehanded and stripped naked. His over-the-top heroism earns him the keys to the kingdom, but Beowulf's bravery is matched by his vanity, and also his lust. After battling Grendel, Beowulf pursues Grendel's mother, a voluptuous water demon played by an unclothed Angelina Jolie. In lieu of her head, she offers him a night's comfort, and the temptation tests Beowulf's resolve. Years later, what price will be paid for this hero's weakness?