Saturday, November 17, 2007

Beowulf, sweet Beowulf. The movie version.

With more anticipation than skepticism, I hurried to the theater to see Beowulf 3-D last night.

And left with my 3-D goggles in a twist.

Fabulous cast. Tons of work. Staggering effects. Most of it lost on me. Apparently, I am one of those unfortunate people who don't visually register this form of 3-D well. The background kept popping out at me, while the characters (who were supposed to do the popping) stayed flat and in the background. Aghhhhh. I had heard this was eye-popping and fantastic "motion capture" technology. There was so much motion, my eyes never really adjusted and I was torn between watching with the 3-D glasses and taking them off and watching the fuzzy version.

Also. . . the characters, while sometimes interesting, look plasticized. GI Joe and Barbie in costume. They show only a fraction of the true range of emotion and character they need to show to make this any more than just a commercial for Hollywood's fx makers. And a poor commercial at that. I should definitely have gone for the regular, flat-screen version. But, I listened to the reviewers and the hype instead of my own good sense. $8.50 (the matinee price!!) wasted.

The animation/motion capture stuff distracted from the story and the main theme of the movie: "Pride goeth before a fall." And frankly, it was hard to watch studly Beowulf make such lousy choices and commit himself to a course we knew to be disastrous. Even worse, we didn't get to actually SEE the fall. Or even the consequences of it. A love story was referred to but otherwise omitted. It was as if they chopped out at least half an hour of scenes and plot to just hurry up with the ironic ending.

Sigh. I so wanted to love this movie. And I've seen 3-D that truly did have me dodging in my seat. . . at an IMAX theater. So I don't think it was just me. No one in my party-of-four had a good viewing experience. Someone suggested we might have fared better if we sat closer to the screen (we were mid-theater). Don't know. Don't intend to find out.

With such a stellar cast, it should have been wonderful. All that talent wasted.

And Ray Winstone who played Big B. . . I would have really loved to see him naked in the real. Instead, he looks waxy and unnatural most of the time. (This pic is as good as it gets. In fact, I don't recall him looking quite this good. But then, things WERE moving pretty fast.) And the longing looks between the lovers just made them look like they had bad astigmatism and were trying hard to focus. And poor Brendan Gleeson. . . he looked like an overgrown Hobbit. Brendan, of behalf of American Womanhood: we still love you!

At home, in bed, later, I began playing it in my head as a real live-action movie and it was so much better. I guess they have to try new things, but I'm at a loss to explain how they can possibly think this would be better than ordinary (magnificent) actors up on a screen and some killer special effects.

Shrug. Can somebody explain that to me? And if you go to see it. . . let me know what you think! Oh, and Angelina. . . was cool. . . very unreal. . . terrific femme fatale. Her character was the ONE that didn't suffer from being made into a cartoon. Was it my imagination that they actually ADDED weight to her bottom half to make her more sinuous and curvy? It may be the first time in the history of cinema that they actually enlarged a woman's bottom half!! And hey, was she wearing stilettos in that first scene? I could have sworn I saw stiletto heels!


Kathleen Eagle said...

Thanks for the warning, Betina! I'm fascinated by everything I've read about the way Gaiman handled the story, but I'm not at all attracted to the "look," which, from the trailers, is just as you say--plastic people. To me that's not even good cartooning. Just as you said: "I'm at a loss to explain how they can possibly think this would be better than ordinary (magnificent) actors up on a screen and some killer special effects."

I go way back to high school and college with Beowulf, of course, and and I love the idea of making these classics irresistible to students by putting them into their preferred form. We grew up with sweeping historical costume epics on the big screen, which, which great liberties were taken with the history, at least gave us the interest by planting the images. This is a good thing. If I were teaching English, I would be telling the kids, "Go, go go!"

But the digitizing just doesn't get it for this old gal.

We're off to see "American Gangster" today. Figure you can't go wrong with Denzel Washington AND Russell Crowe. Will report back.

Michele Hauf said...

I read about the stilettos and had a good laugh. Well, you know, maybe she invented them way back then?

Anyway, I've been avoiding this movie because I just don't get anything out of CGI people. I can do CGI animals, but the people just look so fake to me. And why not make it live-action?

Interesting about the 3D not working for you. I wonder if the movie was not originally intended for 3D and was just 'enhanced' as was the one I saw recently. I was eager to see The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D, so splurged the extra $2 a ticket to get in ($22 total for me and daughter) and was very dissappointed. Nothing really jumping out at me. THe 3D just sort of gave the film 'depth', but that was it. And it gave me a headache after a while. Sigh...

Kimberly Van Meter said...

Me and the hubby went to see Beowulf for his birthday and if pressed to give it a grade we gave it a B- after great discussion. We wavered on a C+ but ultimately, we gave it the higher grade simply because the graphics were stunning (although the 3D was really an overshoot in our opinions) and Angelina Jolie's accent was spot-on amazing as Grendel's mother. Amazing stuff. But, with that said, honestly, we think this would've been a freaking AWESOME movie shot without all that CGI hooha. Beowulf is one of my fav stories and they really could've done it more justice.
And I really hated spending the extra $2. We went to the matinee as well and ended up paying the same as regular price. :-(

Debra Dixon said...

I just can't get into the visual look. When I first heard the movie hyped way back when, I thought, 'How cool!' Then the trailers totally drained any desire I had to see it, but there is always that nagging voice that says, Take a chance. Maybe you'll like it.

So, I'm glad that Betina has pre-screened this for me! I can save some moola and silence the little voice. For now. (g)

Helen Brenna said...

Wow, I am so out of it. Must be the looming book deadline.

I had no idea this was 3D. My son went over the weekend and said he liked it.

I guess I'll take the Gerard Butler version, eh?

MsHellion said...

I was excited about this movie...until the trailer. The plastic people bother me. It's really cool how far CGI has come, but seriously...some things you simply can't replace. That's like replacing, well, a date Gerard Butler with a blow up doll that "looks just like him" and saying it's the same thing. No, really, it's different.

Betina Krahn said...

LOL, Mshellion! What an apt image. . . replacing Gerard Butler with a blow up doll that looks just like him! The same kind of disappointment, for sure!

I wonder why the push in HOllywood for this kind of "virtual actor" thing. Do you think they're sick of paying the stars a bundle and having to put up with their demands and antics. . . so they're trying to find a way to simply eliminate them from movies?

When the process is good enough, they can take any old person, use them to map the action and then draw in a face they make popular themselves. . . viola!. . . movies without those pesky stars. Hey, that might make a really good book plot. Handsome and beautiful young wannabees disappear. . . show up later on the silver screen as "created" characters that are owned by the effects lab that created them. And you don't have to worry about illnesses and damage to the "stars". . . special effects and stunts would be no problem. . .

Anybody game to write that book?

Susan Kay Law said...

Helen, can you ask you son if it would be appropriate for a 10 year old? S#3 wants to go with the DH, but I thought I'd better check first.

The DH is a horrible judge of what's approriate for a kid. I stopped him seconds before they went out the door to see SUPERBAD. (Hey, they're teenagers . . . of course it's fine for a kid!)