BEOWULF (Cert 12, 109 mins, Warner Home Video, Action/Drama, also available to buy DVD £17.99/two-disc DVD £22.99/Blu-ray £26.99)
Starring: Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Crispin Glover, Robin Wright Penn, Brendan Gleeson, Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich.
ROBERT Zemeckis's computer animated adventure re-imagines the oldest surviving poem in the English language. In Denmark AD507, the sins of corrupt King Hrothgar (Hopkins) condemn his people to brutality at the hands of savage beast Grendel (Glover).
After a particularly vicious attack, Hrothgar sends word that he will give half his gold to any man who can slay the hideous creature. Soon after, valiant warrior Beowulf (Winstone) arrives by long boat. Aided by his loyal sidekick Wiglaf (Gleeson), Beowulf wrestles with Grendel and rips the beasts' claw from its socket, fatally wounding his prey.
The ogre dies and Grendel's mother (Jolie) vows revenge, exploiting Beowulf's lust for power to effectively seal the kingdom's fate.
Utilising the same sophisticated motion capture technology as The Polar Express, Beowulf is a smorgasbord for the senses, boasting dazzling fight sequences, lusty serving wenches and mythical, demonic creatures. The animators push the state-of-the-art technology to the limit, including a vertiginous aerial battle with a fire-breathing dragon.
Dazzling as the visuals may be, the technology still cannot replicate realistic eye movement. Close-up, the characters look like dolls, with lifeless, glassy orbs replacing the windows to their souls.
Winstone's Cock-er-ney growl is horribly misplaced next to the rest of the cast, many of whom attempt a Nordic twang, including John Malkovich as the king's snide adviser Unferth.
The story sags badly in the middle section and the tone errs towards the unintentionally camp or unnecessarily risque, including carefully positioned swords sparing the naked hero's blushes in an Austin Powers style.
DVD extras: none stated; two-disc DVD/Blu-ray: Reading Between The Lines: The Making Of Beowulf featurette, The Origins Of Beowulf featurette, Beowulf's Beast Of Burden featurette, Art Of Beowulf featurette, deleted scenes.
GOOD LUCK CHUCK (Fruity Edition) (Cert 15, 97 mins, Lions Gate Home Entertainment (UK) Ltd, Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
Starring: Dane Cook, Jessica Alba, Dan Fogler, Michael Teigen, Chiara Zanni, Michelle Harrison, Ben Ayres.
DURING the wedding of an ex-girlfriend, dentist Charlie Logan (Cook) is shocked when the bride personally thanks him for being her lucky charm. It transpires that Charlie has a reputation: any girl who sleeps with him will fall madly in love with the next man she meets.
Soon, women are sending Charlie's answering machine into meltdown for a date, followed by a quick romp between the sheets. The dentist gladly obliges, convinced he is performing a public service. The plan hits a snag when Charlie falls in love with accident-prone Cam (Alba), who works at the local sealife centre.
Love blossoms, but Charlie cannot consummate the relationship because, as his best friend, breast-obsessed plastic surgeon Stu (Fogler), reminds him, ‘You shake the sheets with Cam, she's going to marry the next man she meets.’
Mark Helfrich's misguided romantic comedy uses the ultimate male sexual fantasy (a hero granted carte blanche to sleep with as many women as he likes, no strings attached) as the catalyst for an unconvincing tale of boy meets penguin-obsessed girl.
Unfortunately, Good Luck Chuck has neither the emotional warmth nor the charm to engage with us, or to convince us to care about the intertwined fates of Charlie and Cam. Characters are brash and unlikeable, and so thinly sketched they are almost translucent.
Cook may have the looks but his bed-hopping bachelor quickly gets on our nerves and there is no sexual chemistry with Alba, showing an aptness for pratfalls and flashing her underwear. Fogler's best friend is almost grotesque, leering over his topless female clients. Give Good Luck Chuck the elbow.
DVD extras: Cast and crew commentary, Kama Sutra featurette, Polymastia - Multiple Mammaries featurette, All About Penguins featurette, Good Luck Chuckles featurette, Frank The Penguin Actor featurette, Eleanor Skepple featurette, Real Life Good Luck Chuck featurette, music montages, alternative scenes, deleted and extended scenes, gag reels, ad-libs, Easter Eggs.