Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Thumb Up: Beowulf 3D

Voices: Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie

It was slim pickings when I looked in the paper to see what movies were of interest. I settled on Beowulf 3D — because I read the original Old English heroic epic poem exactly 15 years ago in my first semester of college, it was showing in 3D, and it was playing within the time frame I could go.

The most important thing I can tell you about Beowulf 3D is that this is not live action. It is "motion capture" similar to The Polar Express. I was expecting actual actors and scenery so that bugged me for the first third of the film. I felt like I'd been duped, but the awesome graphics eventually won me over.

What I Liked
• Incredible animation with exciting action sequences.
• Level of detail — check out the facial features on close-ups especially the skin around the eyes.
• The character of Beowulf's naked form is drawn right out of Advocate Men (link NSFW). Too bad the director (Robert Zemeckis) pulled an Austin Powers where something always manages to obstruct the most important view of all. We do get a butt shot, though.
• The 3D glasses were polarized, not red/blue, and were comfortable and didn't cause a headache.
• Even regular scenes were enhanced with the 3D effect. There were the gratuitous 3D gimmicks, such as arrows flying at the audience, but I think the 3D made the viewing experience better.
• The fantasy of what can happen to noisy neighbors when they move in next to the wrong people.

What I Didn't Like
• That I didn't know ahead of time that it's CGI.
• The story line is a little thin, but as I remember, so is the original poem. Despite this, I was never bored as there was always plenty going on.
• Grendel, the monster, was not rendered how I would envision a dragon.
• Angelina Jolie's avatar was not prominently featured.

I read that the movie was full of violence, nudity, and sex. There is video-game style violence, no frontal nudity, and no sex.

If you're into fantasy, medieval-type stories, then this gets my thumb way up. If not, but you like lots of action as a means of escape, it gets my thumb up. If you like deep plots with lots of character development, skip it.

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