A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this adventure is animated, it's not aimed at kids. Some people may misinterpret the fact that it was created by the same filmmakers responsible for The Polar Express as an automatic thumbs-up for kids. But the considerable violence and sexual innuendo are comparable to the content of popular live-action flick 300. As those familiar with the ancient epic poem the movie is based on know, Beowulf defeats the monstrous Grendel ... but not before Grendel kills a lot of innocent people in disgusting, harrowing ways. The violence includes dismemberment, impalement, bashed heads, people being eaten alive, and more. Animated or not, it can be hard to watch (even more so in 3D, an option that some theaters are offering).
What's the story?
Based on the epic poem, Robert Zemeckis' motion-capture action adventure follows the heroic exploits of Beowulf (Ray WinstoneAnthony Hopkins) get rid of a murderous demon cursing his people. After disposing of the grotesque, pus-oozing Grendel (Crispin Glover) in a (literally) naked battle of hand-to-hand combat, Beowulf learns that the monster has an even more dangerous, shape-shifting mother (Angelina Jolie). Beowulf's hubris as a warrior is evident from his first appearance on screen. But every hero has an Achilles' heel, and Beowulf's is apparently a beautiful woman -- the perfectly cast Jolie -- who promises him wealth and power beyond imagination. Beowulf isn't the first warrior to give into her, and he probably won't be the last, either, since she's seemingly invincible when nude and dripping wet (her feet even take the form of stilettos).
Is it any good?
Once you get past BEOWULF's slightly creepy, ultra-realistic depiction of actors as animated figures, there's no denying that this film is entertaining. Improving on the revolutionary technology he used in The Polar Express, Zemeckis's film is an awe-inspiring achievement in animation. It's also in no way a film for kids, even if that's the first thought that many moviegoers might have when they see animated characters. The action is as bloody as anything Quentin Tarantino could conjure up.
Yet, for all of the movie's sweeping action and impressive technology, there's still something substantially more heart-quickening about flesh-and-blood action. Sure, then audiences wouldn't get to see Grendel squish as many heads and eat as many people (at least not in a PG-13 fashion), but there would've been an extra sense of excitement and not as many unintended laughs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether it's confusing for filmmakers to make and market an animated movie that's so violent and clearly not targeted to kids? Also, does the fact that the animation is so realistic make the violence more upsetting? Why or why not? Why do people tend to react differently to live-action mayhem than they do to similar content that's animated?
- In theaters: November 15, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: February 25, 2008
- Cast: Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone
- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 113 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sexual material and nudity.
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