You don't need to wait for Angelina Jolie to rise from the vaporous depths naked and dripping liquid gold to know that this "Beowulf" isn't your high school teacher's Old English epic poem. You don't even have to wait for the flying spears and airborne bodies that -- if you watch the movie in one of the hundreds of theaters equipped with 3-D projection -- will look as if they're hurtling directly at your head. You could poke your eye out with one of those things! Which is precisely what I thought when I first saw Ms. Jolie's jutting breasts too.
Ms. Jolie plays the bad girl in "Beowulf," a wicked demon, the mother of all monsters -- here, Grendel, played by Crispin Glover -- who can switch from hag to fab in the wink of a serpentine eye. If you don't remember this evil babe from the poem, it's because she's almost entirely the invention of the screenwriters Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman and the director Robert Zemeckis, who together have plumped her up in words, deeds and curves. These creative interventions aren't especially surprising given the source material and the nature of big-studio adaptations. There's plenty of action in "Beowulf," but even its more vigorous bloodletting pales next to its rich language, exotic setting and mythic grandeur.
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