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*** Official BEOWULF Review Thread


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#1 of 12 Jose Martinez

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Posted November 15 2007 - 09:49 PM

I just watched the midnight showing of Beowulf in IMAX 3D and I have to say: WOW!!!!

I had a lot of reservations about this film, particularly the motion capture animation. All the trailers looked unimpressive. After seeing it in IMAX 3D, if it looks this good I can just imagine how James Cameron's Avatar will look a couple of years from now. There may be complaints how the females look more fake or stiff than the males in the movie but I believe it may have been intentional. You can see the wrinkles and roughness of the male faces while the females were all smooth and somewhat flat. However, that may be the only issue I noticed. The eyes were perfect BTW.

The action was terrific and just plain awesome to look at, especially the final battle scenes. Angelina Jolie just looked absolutely fabulous nekkid! Ray Winstone didn't look anything like himself but his portrayal of Beowulf is amazing. All the other actors did a splendid job.

The story was straightforward and not complicated. It had its humor and overall a great fantasy film.

My favorite fantasy/animated film of the year.

***** / *****
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#2 of 12 Robert Crawford

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Posted November 15 2007 - 11:48 PM

This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Beowulf". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.



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#3 of 12 Chuck Mayer

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Posted November 16 2007 - 12:47 AM

Technologically, I was quite impressed. I wear glasses, and it took some time for my pair plus the RealD pair to find the space on my (admittedly large) nose and be comfortable. The dimensionality is rarely showy (but it is a few times), but really adds to certain scenes.

In terms of the uncanny valley, I honestly found myself on the other side a few times (mostly with Beowulf himself). On the big screen, the animation quality is astounding. Getting beyond the character models, the backgrounds and atmosphere work was incredible. And Grendel was a truly, truly nasty piece of work (visually, he was just disgusting).

Onto actual movie stuff, Zemeckis is up to his usual tricks, but he's a master. The acting was exceptional, especially Ray Winstone. The story was good, but zipped along quickly through some points that I would have liked it to linger upon. Still, a pretty good film, outside of the technology.

Are we seeing a glimpse of the future here? I think we are, both in terms of artificial actors and 3D presentations. There is still a ways to go on making each a valid form of cinema, but Beowulf makes some mighty strides. If you love movies, you should check out a RealD screening (or an IMAX 3D screening). It's that impressive. If you wait to experience this with Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, you might be missing out Posted Image

8/10,
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#4 of 12 Chris Atkins

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Posted November 16 2007 - 02:46 PM

Agree with Chuck. Very impressive visually (you must see this in 3D) and the story element really picks up about halfway through.

7.5/10

#5 of 12 Alphonse Brown

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Posted November 17 2007 - 05:24 AM

I really enjoyed this film! Zemeckis outdid himself here with all of the current technology at his disposal to create vivid visual landscapes, action scenes (especially loved Beowulf's story about the sea monster he slayed (reminded me of a scene out of the videogame "God of War")), actor capturing, and the brilliant, old-fashioned, bombastic score by Alan Silvestri.

Definitely one of the best films of the year!
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#6 of 12 Brett_M

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Posted November 17 2007 - 06:26 AM

Saw it this morning in REALD. In a word, awesome. I said "wow" for about the first 20 minutes. Great voice performances on top of visual splendor.

As an aside, I couldn't help thinking "Smaug is going to look incredible."

See it ASAP.

****/*****
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#7 of 12 Kirk Tsai

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Posted November 17 2007 - 10:25 AM

No 3D for me, but still enjoyed it a lot. I could see how many of the shots were designed to have greater impact for the 3D presentations. The first, long pulling back of the artificial camera is one such example. However, even without 3D, they still gave the picture great depth and fit with the pace of the film. The shot I mentioned is very memorable in the context of the film because of what Zemeckis does with it.

Regarding the acting, I don't think it was all there yet, but perhaps not through the fault of the actors. Beowulf was a vivd portrayal, but Malkovich's character seems to be far less expressive than Malkovich the actor would have provided. His voice work isn't the problem, but the face of the digital figure. Maybe there still aren't enough little sensor balls on the actor's face to fully capture his performance. This is a separate issue from the rendering of the characters, which as Jose pointed out, seemed to give females little detail. The exception is Jolie; her first closeups were perhaps the most lifelike shots that the film has.

Agree with Alphonse on Silvestri's score. The thundering music over the studio credits is a thrill compared to most of the droning that counts as opening cues, e.g., see American Gangster. The action scenes were really quite good; the dragon battle might be the best one so far, even though there's been quite a few in recent years. Beowulf's introspection during the second half of the film moved me.

#8 of 12 Patrick Sun

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Posted November 17 2007 - 02:00 PM

While I enjoyed the immense undertaking of the CGI effort to create this film, I felt the story wasn't all that interesting in the 3rd act, in fact, I would say that it pretty much limps to the finish, even though there is a good action sequence at the end, it didn't much resonate with me, leaving me with a "eh" reaction to the film on the whole. I can't say the characters were developed all that well, which contributed to my non-empathetic response to the overall film.

The Austin Power-ish nude sequence was played too cute in a sequence that could have been much more powerful and ferocious, the viewer is asked to spend a little too much attention on what "clever" things would pop up to hide Beowulf's nakedness.

The dead eyes from The Polar Express is almost a thing of the past in this film, although I did see the RealD 3-D presentation, the dead eyes crop up here and there, like for John Malkovich's character (in one early sequence, I thought he was a blind man because that's how his eyes reacted) and also Anthony Hopkins' character (the eyes slip into a quasi-buffoonish look to them, like they weren't quite anchored to anything in the scene). The 2-D presentation is easier to take in all the details as the 3-D tends to obscure the fine rendering of each frame and things look a little blurry for the 3-D effect to take effect. I wouldn't advise skipping the 3-D presentation because it's pretty nifty, but it causes the film to have a slightly darker tone to it, while the 2-D version is a smidge brighter and provides more details to the CGI rendering.

I give it 2.75 stars, or a grade of B-.
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#9 of 12 Matthew_Def

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Posted November 19 2007 - 05:49 AM

I saw it IMAX 3D and absolutely loved it. Visually, of course, I thought it was great, gorgeous. I felt only a few moments of the dead eyes, most othertimes I could feel the soul. The eyes were very detailed and had the right amount of shine and translucency and having the actors actual eye movements greatly helped. The dead eyes may come down to the lighting they chose or possibly manipulation of the performace. The close-ups were stunning, I wish they held some shots a little longer, but I'll just pause the DVD.

I found the changes to the poem intriguing. They shed a point of view on the poem that worked very well. The connections all made sense and I love that Beowulf is an embellisher. Still he was a great hero, and did the right thing in the end.

Above all, I think the characters is what made me love the film so much. Beowulf's depth was touching to an extent, but the way people reacted to him, Wiglaf for instance really made me feel for him. Wealtheow was so sympathetic, I didn't expect that and Penn is mostly the reason I felt that way. Unferth was a great foil for Beowulf and humoursly performed. Hrothgar was so mad in a irresistable way. I wish we spent more time with Grendel, Glover was great but it was hard to really judge him, hopefully on subsequent viewings I'll appreciate him more. Jolie as Grendel's Mother was surprsing, a great performace. Sexy too. Wiglaf was the most likeable character, I'd like to believe he wasn't tempted.

Any complaints come down to a bit too much sex humour, but I will not complain about that wench's whoppers jiggling about. I also felt the story and characters could've been fleshed out a little more. There was a good number of quiet scenes, but more could've only helped.

Still have a lot more thoughts, but I want to see it again and think on it more.

#10 of 12 Chad R

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Posted November 19 2007 - 08:22 AM

Okay, I saw it last night in Digital 3-D. although not in the large IMAX format, the presentation was still pretty impressive. It has all the earmarks of a great big adventure story. Spectacle, check. Clearly choreographed action, check. Wonderful desgn, absolutely. Big themes of honor, sacrifice, selfish vs. selflessness; in spades.

So, why did I just no care about anythnig going on?

It was the animation. I just don't know why motion capture has transfixed Zemeckis the way it has. Although it was leaps and bounds ahead of Polar Express and its lifeless mannequins, it still has not reached a point where the animation can seize my imagination.

It seems like the character animation is stuck between two worlds. The animators feel constrained by the actors, and the actors don't know what to do in the realm of animation.

It's very telling that the most believalbe, emotive character in the film was Grendel. I think that's because the animators weren't forced to make him look like an actor and abide by his performance. They could take the root of that actor's motion capture and build on it.

If Zemeckis likes the 9-5 schedule of filmmaking (being able to shoot entirely on a soundstage and not location), then he should study 300. That film had real actors in fake envrionments that blended more seamlessly than him making his actors animated. The physics of the world in 300 added that layer of reality Beowulf didn't acheive.

I was also amazed that during the Grendel battle he stooped to doing an Austin Powers gag and having foreground objects cover Beowulf's danglies not once, not twice, but three times. If you have the animated world, and you want to do nudity, then just have it obscured by shadow.

#11 of 12 Shawn.F

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Posted November 20 2007 - 11:34 PM

I was impressed by the animation and some of the 3-D effects, but overall I thought this was a major chore to sit through. I know I might be in the minority on this one, but Robert Zemeckis seems far more interested these days in the technical aspect of filmmaking than he is actual storytelling and characters, two things we all know he is more than capable of presenting. A major disappointment.

#12 of 12 Robert Crawford

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Posted November 21 2007 - 12:14 AM

I watched this film at 8:30 a.m. due to a promotion a recently opened IMAX theater was running with 24 hours of "Beowulf". I wasn't disappointed and loved everything about the film. I don't understand the criticism about the story-telling, but maybe it's just me because I was into this film as I remembered reading "Beowulf" in school many, many years ago. Sure, it's quite different than the story I read, but I was thoroughly entertained by this latest film version of "Beowulf".






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