With a filmography that includes Romancing the Stone, the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump and Cast Away, yielding an Academy Award win for Best Director and billions of box office dollars, Robert Zemeckis is without a doubt one of the most notable filmmakers of the last four decades, but his forays into the world of motion capture in the 2000s left a lot to be desired.
The Polar Express may have become a staple of the festive viewing calendar but the dead-eyed characters are still unnerving, and Jim Carrey’s A Christmas Carol was an ambitious experiment that didn’t deliver on its undoubted potential. Ironically, the best-reviewed of his mo-cap trilogy is Beowulf, which was the only one to flop at the box office after earning less than $200 million on a $150 million budget.
Co-written by Pulp Fiction‘s Oscar winner Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman, the adaptation of the Old English poem boasted a phenomenal ensemble cast that disconcertingly saw Ray Winstone’s face plastered onto the buff title hero, with support from Angelina Jolie, Crispin Glover, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Brendan Gleeson, Robin Wright and more.
While it regularly fails to escape the uncanny valley, it’s often a rip-roaring adventure that boasts some impressive visuals and fast-paced action sequences, while Jolie is clearly having a ball chewing on the scenery as Grendel’s mother, even if she was only on the set for two days to film the role. It’s an ambitious misfire, but Beowulf still provides plenty of entertainment value, something Netflix subscribers are able to discover for themselves now that the forgotten 2007 fantasy blockbuster is now available to stream.