Scandinavian warrior Beowulf (Winstone) visits neighboring Denmark and is hailed a hero when he defeats Grendel (Glover), a ferocious monster that has terrorized the local people. However, Beowulf is confronted by a deadlier force when Grendel's mother (Jolie), who is devastated by her son's violent demise, sets out to avenge his death. (Stacey Pendry)
Special features include the following featurettes: A Hero's Journey: The Making Of Beowulf (24 minutes), Beasts Of Burden—Designing The Creatures Of Beowulf (seven minutes), The Origins Of Beowulf (five minutes), Creating The Ultimate Beowulf (two minutes), and The Art Of Beowulf (five minutes); six deleted scenes; the original theatrical trailer; and previews. There is also a ten-part featurette The Journey Continues (21 minutes), A Conversation With Robert Zemeckis (six minutes), and five additional deleted/alternate scenes.
The computer-animated, anamorphically enhanced 2.31:1 DVD shows very good resolution, with sharp details that help add a level of realism to the picture. Contrast is balanced nicely, and colors are bold and vibrant. Black levels are deep, and shadow delineation is nicely rendered. Pixel breakup can be recognized from time to time, and edges can look too sharp and digitized. Edge enhancement is minor, but recognizable, over higher contrast transitions. The H.264 AVC-encoded HD DVD shows a good sense of dimensionality with very good resolution. Shadow delineation is nicely rendered as well, helping create a believably realistic image. This is a superb presentation. (Danny Richelieu)
The Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack features very good fidelity with broad dynamic range. Even the most subtle effects are delivered nicely, and are especially noticeable because of the very low noise floor. Voices sound full and natural, with very good articulation. Phantom imaging is generally mixed into the soundfield well, although sidewall imaging can be limited. Deep bass is prevalent throughout the presentation, with a good use of the LFE channel for creating a solid base and the full-range channels for expanding the reach. While not perfect, this is an excellent soundtrack. While the HD DVD's Dolby Digital Plus encoding does sound very impressive, it does not have the kind of dynamic range that is audible in the best encodings on either HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc. Subtle clipping distortion can be heard on rare occasion as well. Deep bass is tight and controlled, and the mix is very lively. (Danny Richelieu)