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Nov 29, 2007

Fletch's Film Review: Beowulf

I managed to escape having to read Beowulf in high school, but that won't stop me from learning my literature the American way - on the big screen!

It's hard to really praise or denounce the film too much. On one hand, it's a smorgasbord of cinematic magic that gets taken for granted these days - I start to feel old when I think that the sights featured in the film are pretty much commonplace for the kiddies out there in the audience. Despite its flaws (more on those later), the movie is pretty breathtaking to see when you disengage yourself from the story or the fact that a naked facsimile of Angelina Jolie is staring you in the face - the level of detail given, especially for closeups and/or frames without much movement, are photo-realistic. Meaning if you were looking at a still, you'd barely be able to tell that this was created by computers. As fancy as many of the special effects you see in films these days are, to this day, there aren't many that would pass that test.

On the other hand, for an "action" film, there really isn't all that much action, and what little there is is either so over the top as to render it silly, or is made limp by the fact that it becomes really obvious that you're watching computers when the pace speeds up. From all accounts, the effects are much improved over director Robert Zemekis' previous motion-capture film, The Polar Express (which I haven't seen), specifically as it relates to the characters eyes and faces, but every time a horse is on screen, it might as well be My Little Pony that the characters are riding on.

All that said, it's an enjoyable experience, and some of the effects and camera angles (which would be impossible using live action) are worth seeing enough to recommend this. Though you'll glare in wide wonder at how they managed to make Robin Wright Penn both uglier and prettier than she is in real life (at the same time), and you'll wonder what's wrong with the face of the character voiced by John Malkovich, Ray Winstone's Beowulf, Grendel, and (ahem) Grendel's mother are all sights to see (though the challenge of not letting the audience see too much of Beowulf in one particular scene gets to be a bit over the top).

Fletch's Film Rating:

"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

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