The “film” — an almost perverse moniker for a format that contains few traits of conventional cinema — is probably the best 3-D movie ever. And enlisting veteran writers like Neil Gaiman (Mirrormask) and Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction) to rework the classic story about a warrior who arrives to save a kingdom from a bloodthirsty beast pays off too. Using what Zemeckis calls advanced motion enhancement, the film features real actors like Ray Winstone, Crispin Glover and Angelina Jolie as virtual reference points, and culminates in a wild and action packed climax with Beowulf doing battle with a dragon, which is cool. And while there is still something just a little creepy and hollow in the rendering of real people, the method seems more suited to this mythological tale than it did in the director’s previous effort about a magical train going to Christmas land.
The freedom of environment and of perspective is the real wonder though, as you shift seamlessly from spear to skull; it’s this aspect that truly benefits from the 3-D formatting. It may seem like a strange endorsement to only focus on the 3-D version when most audiences will probably only see this movie in flat format, but that’s the way it goes. If you’re gonna spend the time, money and effort, convince your friend with the car to go to the IMAX, put on the glasses and enjoy. Otherwise… watch at your own peril.