Even if we put aside a computer-generated visual style that distills Anthony Hopkins into a doughy moon-faced cartoon and chisels Beowulf's crude eponymous hero out of Ray Winstone, there is still the business of a hero story adapted into a cinematic event that borders on the ridiculous. Stories of brazen heroism, explored in the visceral vernacular of the video game or the graphic novel, are infrequently successful in the cinema. Moviegoers, it seems, are connected by their right to accept what they choose and laugh at the rest.
Beowulf's battles with monsters explode with the grotesque and wet, sticky images of heat and blood, replacing moments in the text where language excites the student. The director, Robert Zemeckis, has his heart in thematic notions that are misdirected in this project, where the line is much too blurred between video game and film, and the level of seriousness is similarly unclear. Zemeckis repeatedly emphasizes the point that there are no heroes in a world where ego and violence make man his own worst enemy, and eventually the arbiter of his own perpetual demise. "We are the monsters now," Beowulf tells his general, Wigluf, as he looks out over a battle late in his reign. Doubting the basis of his legendary status, he never achieves satisfaction. "Nothing is as good as it should have been," he says later to a young and hopeful female companion. As laughable as the film has been to this point, one can't help appreciate a sentiment we can understand.