once you have acclimatised yourself to the animation style, it tells a cracking good story, and the screenplay by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary conjures a secret history of vulnerability and human weakness behind the legend.
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.
I can't speak for the standard-issue version, but the souped-up extravaganza is one of those experiences that remind you of the magic that movies are capable of conjuring.
It's more dazzle than disaster, but the technical ambitions of Beowulf work too sporadically to be completely effective, while the screenplay adaptation of the classic story suffers from serious bouts of corn poison.
To the shock of cynics in the audience waiting for this film fantasy to be lame, Beowulf turns out to be exciting, fun and occasionally breathtaking. No question it's a popcorn flick, but it's cheesy only when it chooses to be.
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.
Zemeckis has found the dark psychological underpinnings of this Dark Ages tale, and his version of it will endure even as the technology he used to tell it is replaced by something even more stunning.
Heads roll, arteries gush and spleens spill across the IMAX screen in Beowulf, just as you'd expect in a screen adaptation of the oldest surviving epic poem in the English language.