Beowulf, in IMAX 3D

Light the fireplace, gather your rowdiest friends, sing a tale or two, bring out the warm buttered popcorn, the hot chocolate (Ale for the stronger stomach) and maybe a blanket (we will be traveling through the frigid Norse wilderness). Once you are nice and cozy, bring out Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Crispin Glover, Angelina Jolie (especially Angelina) and have them perform all the scenes from Beowulf in my living room (yes, with the fancy props). This is about as closest I will be able to get to the experience of Beowulf in 3D at the IMAX. There is no way that you can enjoy this movie on a little tiny screen at home (I have a nice 20” TV… sad times!). People who have a 100” HDTV with 7.1-surround sound will be thrilled. Sure you will not feel the monster Grendel drooling on you, nor will you feel the horses kick up dirt from the ground as they sprint across the tundra, though you will see some really amazing 3D work. You can pick out each pore on the skin of each character, see each ripple in glowing ponds, and watch fog creep in through doorways and windows.

Robert Zemeckis is no novice at 3D movies. His most recent works include the likes of Monster House and The Polar Express. Monster House was more on the stylized side, cuter characters, rosy cheeks. Polar Express was just plain scary. I don’t know what is more frightening, watching Tom Hanks walking around looking like a plastic doll, or watching Grendel devour Vikings. This is not the case for Beowulf. The characters are not as stiff and spooky.

Now the big question: Is the plot any good? This is of course based on the interpretation of the viewer. I see it this way. There is no way that you can go wrong with a mythology that has existed for thousands of years. This movie has been retold several times though this is the first time we are seeing it animated. A movie has the disadvantage of having a limited amount of time to tell a story. A legend is normally much shorter, and easier to portray. Therefore, I think this movie is more than adequate of keeping your interest while illustrating the highlights, bringing them to life with great characters and scenery.
The great thing about showing this in an animated form is that there is endless room for creativity. Some of the shots in the movie would be impossible with a real camera. You get to see a great deal of the world this way, and at the same time create effective cuts between scenes. Take a nice journey on an eagle to the next scene instead of the standard boring cut (being teleported all over the place). This kind of editing makes for a more beautiful production and allows you to be part of the bigger picture. Some might argue that film has a nice texture to it, a certain look. Others might think this movie would have done better with a real cast. Such thoughts are outdated. Technology is slowly creeping into the spotlight with feature films.

One thing I found particularly cheesy in this movie was the use of “one liners”. There were not many, and some of them can pass as negative personality traits in certain characters, though the movie could have done well without. You will find Beowulf particularly annoying in certain parts. I guess it comes with the whole proud hero status.
Anthony Hopkins played a very colorful character, though it still had that nice cynical side to him (The Silence of the Lambs). Crispin Glover (Grendel) gargles most of the time and we can’t understand him anyway. My favorite was Angelina Jolie (of course). It’s just that… well, I’m not going to spoil it for you. Go see the movie (in IMAX 3D).


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