Do yourself a favor. Go to the really big movie theater. Put on the grey sunglasses. And see Beowulf as the bards of old would have wanted: on an IMAX screen in 3-D.
Beowulf is so rich in craft and detail that you would think it took a million people a million years to make it. (Maybe it did.) Not only that, but it’s the least dead fish eye-iest of all the motion capture CGI movies. (Feel free to quote that in the ads: “Least Dead Fish Eye-iest!” — Matt Selman, Time.com.)
The animation is microscopically detailed, not just in the fantasy set pieces, like the flight of the world’s most expensive golden dragon, but in the intimate character details, like John Malkovich’s messed-up mustache. Some of the oddest images are the most searing, like that of Grendel’s empty, ripped-out arm-socket, with its deep black star crack in the center.
The little I remember about Beowulf the poem, which is nothing, since I never read it, is that it was incredibly boring. Not this. You feel for these Danes. When Beowulf gets everything he ever wanted, the emptiness of it is crushing. Crispin Glover voices a sorrowful portrait of the mad and accursed bastard creature, Grendel, whimpering only in lonely, high-octave Olde English. (That is, Crispin Glover’s regular voice.)
But you need to see Beowulf in 3-D. Here’s how good the technology is. There’s a scene where Beowulf fights Grendel in the nude, so his crotchal-area is conveniently blocked by various convenient objects (this is a PG-13 saga). But the 3-D is so immersive, I found myself trying to peek AROUND the 3-D crotch-blocking objects, straining to get a peek at his Nordic package. That’s right. IMAX 3-D made me gay. (Please do not use that quote in the ads. Oh, all right. You can use it.)