Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
Watch On
  1. 88
    Zemeckis springs so many pow 3-D surprises you'll think Beowulf is your own private fun house.
  2. Beowulf is a solemnly gorgeous, at times borderline stolid piece of Tolkien-with-a-joystick mythology.
  3. 83
    For the record, it's truly puzzling that this film has been rated PG-13; it's much stronger than that. The monsters of "Beowulf" have haunted human imagination for more than a millennium; the ones in this film will easily provoke a few nightmares.
  4. Reviewed by: Tom Ambrose
    It’s not a reinvention of the wheel, but in 3D this is an astonishing experience that borders on ‘must-see’, and raises the bar for what James Cameron is planning with Avatar. And you’ll be glad to know that the creepy dead eyes thing has been fixed.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    It's got power and depth, and two kings whose greatness is diluted by hubris, and a thrilling dragon fight, and the demon Grendel as a tortured outcast, and a naked monster who looks a lot like Angelina Jolie.
  6. 75
    Highly entertaining - but far from classic.
  7. Zemeckis has converted the epic poem about the warrior who slays the monster Grendel into a species of computer game. He employs the same motion-capture technology that he first used in "The Polar Express," to slightly better effect.
  8. 75
    We are not looking at flesh-and-blood actors but special effects that look uncannily convincing, even though I am reasonably certain that Angelina Jolie does not have spike-heeled feet. That's right: feet, not shoes.
  9. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Beowulf couldn't be less faithful to the original epic poem, and that's actually a good thing for moviegoers. It's a lot more fun than the mythic adventure most of us read in school.
  10. 75
    Regardless of the medium, this is an effectively brutal story of swords, sorcery, demons, and heroes, with an Oedipal hint or two thrown in for flavor.
  11. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Not all of it works - and not all of it works the way the target audience of jacked-up young males might want it to - but the movie is hugely provocative fun, and I'm pretty sure that's on purpose.
  12. Director Robert Zemeckis not only deploys 21st century movie technology at its finest to turn the heroic poem into a vibrant, nerve-tingling piece of pop culture, but his film actually makes sense of Beowulf. In Zemeckis' hands, it's an intriguing look at a hero as a flawed human being.
  13. Reviewed by: Luke Y. Thompson
    Beowulf may ultimately be viewed as a failure, but it’s a fascinating one.
  14. The story works, but I wish they'd teach these avatars to act.
  15. Beowulf deserves to be taken semiseriously; its eye candy is mixed with narrative fiber and dramatic protein. But it begs to be taken frivolously. Effects have grown so exciting in the realm of the third dimension that you just sit there all agog behind your polarizing glasses.
  16. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    The bolder stroke comes from screenwriters Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction) and Neil Gaiman (the graphic novel Sandman), who’ve turned the arthritic legend into sort of an Arthur Miller play in chain mail.
  17. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Could call Zemeckis subtle; but his style Well suits the poem's crude and earthy brawn. Comic-Con geeks and cinephiles alike Will gape at the resplendent imagery (But don ye specs, and see it in 3-D).
  18. 67
    Although this version of Beowulf (the script, ricocheting between thrilling, heroic, and hilarious, is by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary) does take some liberties with certain heretofore undreamed of aspects of parentage, it's as faithful to the extant version as it needs to be.
  19. People's eyes still look as glassy and dull as a taxidermized possum's. But if you're going to Beowulf to experience the sweeping passions that only real eyes can convey, you're missing the point.
  20. Reviewed by: Jason Anderson
    If the arrival of Beowulf is any indication, movie actors will soon all be replaced by lifelike, digitally animated facsimiles. The good news is that some of them might still sound like John Malkovich.
  21. As dazzling a feast for the eyes as the hungriest eyes can take.
  22. 63
    Beowulf is many things, but boring isn't one of them.
  23. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    For all its visual sweep and propulsively violent action, this bloodthirsty rendition of the Old English epic can't overcome the disadvantage of being enacted by digital waxworks rather than flesh-and-blood Danes and demons.
  24. Beowulf is all right as far as it goes, and it goes pretty far for a PG-13 rating: Dismemberment, “300”-style blood globules comin’ atcha, and a digitally futzed and, for all practical purposes, completely naked!!!
  25. Zemeckis, who blazed trails mixing live-action with animation in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," blazes not even a footpath here.
  26. The 3-D is necessary to the film only in so far as it keeps your eyes engaged when your mind starts to wander. Stripped of much of the original poem’s language, its cadences, deep history and context, this film version of Beowulf doesn’t offer much beyond 3-D oohs and ahs, sword clanging and a nicely conceived dragon, which probably explains why Mr. Zemeckis and his collaborators have tried to sex it up with Ms. Jolie, among other comic-book flourishes.
  27. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    I like a good flying, fire-breathing dragon as much as the next fellow. Beowulf's excesses, though, are such that the film ought to carry the subtitle …But This Is Ridiculous.
  28. 50
    First and foremost a showcase for the latest developments in motion-capture and 3-D technology.
  29. As for Beowulf itself, it's all about the visuals, which means that as soon as the novelty of 3-D wears off, the experience has been had.
  30. 50
    Ten years from now, Beowulf may look like the groundbreaking project that helped kill live-action movies, but for the moment, its uncomfortable jokes and fakey rendering of life leave it wedged firmly in the uncanny valley. (Insert your own joke about Jolie's astonishing animated anatomy here.)
  31. 42
    Owing more to the sword-and-sex-play fantasies of 12-year-olds than the traditions of Old English poetry, Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf will allow adolescents to have their cheesecake - and beefcake - and eat it, too.
  32. Reviewed by: Jamie Tipps
    Certainly, modern interpretations should add their own spin to an ancient tale, but in the hands of director Robert Zemeckis, Beowulf becomes... silly.
  33. Beowulf appears so cartoony, in fact, that the academy just put it on the short list of films to be considered for the Oscar in feature animation.
  34. 40
    Ambitious, overbearing and hollow; it goes overboard to impress, yet it never feels truly inventive or imaginative. At best, it achieves a level of clumsy camp.
  35. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    The most interesting thing about Beowulf, alas, is its technology. It's the work of a man who has fallen in love with his toys, but I miss the wicked satirist who made "Used Cars." And the truth is the motion capture in Beowulf comes across as an unsatisfying compromise between animation and live action.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 248 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 85 out of 133
  2. Negative: 27 out of 133
  1. Sep 30, 2011
    "Beowulf" is a epic remake of the original tale of vikings. It lacks the depth or symbolism of the characters, but it certainly does have the"Beowulf" is a epic remake of the original tale of vikings. It lacks the depth or symbolism of the characters, but it certainly does have the glorious gore and blood going on. Full Review »
  2. Dec 16, 2010
    None of the reviewers who gave it over a 30 actually have ever read beowulf, I have and this has almost zero to do with the epic poem. It isNone of the reviewers who gave it over a 30 actually have ever read beowulf, I have and this has almost zero to do with the epic poem. It is just a bad attempt to "hollywoodize" the poem Full Review »
  3. Aug 16, 2013
    Robert Zemeckis made a well animated 3-D epic but nothing that I observe is special. The first half is dull and second half has a bit moreRobert Zemeckis made a well animated 3-D epic but nothing that I observe is special. The first half is dull and second half has a bit more gore and kiddish story of the book and epics is not well used but some fun provides. In voice acting or CGI acting its cool but nothing special. The ending is clueless and characters have no depth or story. The 3-D is good, yeah but could have been used well. The gore and violence is endless and the UNRATED version is worse. Zemeckis makes the real he digs in deep and makes it up to serve the nudity, sex, gore and violence of this dull war epic. Full Review »