About the Movie "Beowulf"

by Brenton Shields

"Beowulf" is a 2007 animated film directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is loosely based on the Old English poem of the same name featuring the hero Beowulf, who slays the monster Grendel, Grendel's mother and another monster. The film uses performance motion capture techniques to create realistic facial animations for its characters. It was received to above average reviews but made only $46 million more than its production budget.


Beowulf is a proud warrior brought in by King Hrothgar of Denmark to slay a legendary, cave-dwelling monster known as Grendel that has been terrorizing a local village. Beowulf mortally wounds the monster but, in a departure from the poem on which the story is loosely based, succumbs to his seductress mother, who offers him kingship in return for bearing her a new son.

Cast and Crew

Ray Winstone portrayed the titular Beowulf in the film. Anthony Hopkins provided the voice and performance capture for King Hrothgar, while Robin Wright Penn portrayed Queen Wealtheow. Crispin Glover and Angelina Jolie play Grendel and his mother, respectively. "Beowulf" was directed by Robert Zemeckis from a screenplay by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. Robert Zemeckis, Steve Bing, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey produced the film.

Visual Effects

Sony Pictures Imageworks was responsible for the film's digital animation. "Beowulf" used motion capture technology to digitally integrate the actors' movements and facial motions into highly accurate 3D computer models. More than 450 graphic designers were hired to work on the project, the largest team ever assembled for a single Imageworks film. The production borrowed techniques previously used for characters such as Sandman from "Spider-Man 3" and Johnny Blaze from "Ghost Rider" to create the completed movie. In turn, "Beowulf" informed the techniques of James Cameron's "Avatar."

Reception and Box Office

"Beowulf" received above-average reception from film critics upon its release with an average critical rating of 6.5 out of 10 on review site Rotten Tomatoes. It was praised for its visuals and performances but criticized for its weak script. The film opened at number one in the United States and Canada over its opening weekend. It finished with a total gross of $196,394.