Following in the steps of the revised "Nightmare Before Christmas 3D" and this years "Meet the Robinson's" "Beowulf" hits audiences over the head with its use of the new 'digital 3D' format that is being rapidly adopted by film studios as part of their continued efforts to lure audiences away from their TV's at home and back into movie theaters to see the spectacle of the show.
"Beowulf", is a silly barbarian adventure movie with enough 3D visual sweeteners in it feels like your eyes may rot out while watching. The 3D gimmick acts as sugar cereal for your brain, and fills the otherwise ho-hum swords and sorcery ride with enough gooey eye candy that its shortcomings are easily ignored.
Using the same approach as seen in the "Polar Express" and "Monster House", director Robert Zemeckis uses live actors performing their roles in motion-capture suits to create pseudo realistic looking people. And while this is an interesting approach, the computer generated look still gives people an awkward rubbery appearance and for most of "Beowulf" it feels like you are watching the cut scenes from a videogame.
For those who may have nodded off in high school English class, "Beowulf" is an old English epic poem, penned by an unknown author and has been translated into a screenplay by comics legend Neil Gaiman and "Pulp Fiction" collaborator Roger Avary. The pair delivers a script that does a good job of hacking through the dense forest of words that have stumped students for ages. And watching the film reminds us of "Beowulf's" obvious influence on fantasy storytelling. However as the movie is released after so many recent similar stories which were clearly inspired by it, such as the "Lord of the Rings" and "Eragon", and "Narnia", "Beowulf's" story is predictable and offers few surprises.
The casting includes some easily recognizable voices such as Anthony Hopkins as the elder king, however itís Crispin Glovers' sympathetic performance as the creepy monster known as Grendel that makes you feel sad for the tortured character while being repulsed by it at the same time. And it doesn't matter how many rendered tentacles she has, when Grendels' mother is attached to the motion captured form of Angelina Jolie, it's easy to see why even the mightiest warrior such as "Beowulf" will lose focus and indulge in the 'sins of the father' began by the retiring king.
Regardless of its technical sophistication, "Beowulf" can't resist throwing in some in your face old-school 3D movie crowd pleaser scenes such as swords and spears poking out of the screens. Sure the shots are hokey, but they work and as the movie is pumped up with enough visual steroids it sells the digital 3D.
Planning to check "Beowulf" out in IMAX 3D next, for Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2007 - Purple - Air Date: 11/21/07
USA - 2007