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‘Beowulf’ best read

 

While utilizing cutting edge technology to capture a relatively new type of filmed entertainment (motion capture combined with computer generated animation), it seems lost in its own technological tour de force and loses some emotional impact.

Starring Ray Winstone as the title character, Beowulf tells the story of a monster named Grendel (Crispin Glover), who terrorizes a small village in Denmark, leaving its residents in a constant state of fear. A call is sent out for any hero who can slay Grendel. Many try but fail. Beowulf shows up with his crew of Danish warriors to fight Grendel. Through the course of his adventure he faces monsters, demons, dragons and his own internal fears.

Beowulf originated as an anonymous epic poem written somewhere between the 7th and 12th century but the story had been told for centuries before that as an oral tradition. Now, 1300 years later, it has come to the big screen, and in 3-D digital projection.

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The story of Beowulf is of epic tradition. As with many ancient stories, pride was his downfall, but few did it like Beowulf did. With many of the themes lifted from the Bible- a heroic man’s journey, the fight between good and evil and the price of glory, Beowulf is the foundation for all our modern heroes, from Conan to Superman to the Incredible Hulk. Its legend makes it one of the best stories out there. I advise you to read the original story at some point, if you haven’t already. That being said, This movie does not live up to its epic potential. It has an animation style that captures the faces of the actors so they look real(ish), but it is all computer generated. The motion capture animation process looks great here and there, but overall it is disappointing. Some shots look absolutely real. Others look surreal and out of place. And because of the medieval setting, it realy looks like another animated classic, “Shrek.”

Director Robert Zemekis uses numerous long, swooping pull-back pans and other camera moves that are just boring and can be nauseating in 3-D. This reporter was rather disappointed that the new animation process was so uneven. The 3D technology is great when it works as designed (but didn’t always work as it was designed).

One plus about the movie is that Angelina Jolie, as the evil water demon mother of Grendel, emerges from a lake wearing nothing but golden water that slowly drips away as she speaks. She is beautiful and this animation didn’t cloud that at all. She is the perfect choice for the alluring seductress that the role required. A climactic battle with a dragon is visually spellbinding and stands out as one of the best parts of a movie that should have had more scenes of equal imagination and excitement.

The only other good thing about the film was that an Anglo-Saxon poem was turned into a great song. “A Hero Comes Home” was based on the poem and written as a song by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri.

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Despite the few good attributes, it would probably be better to stay home and read the epic poem Beowulf, rather than see “Beowulf meets Shrek” in theaters. I give this movie 2 out of 5 stars.

CHARLY SHELTON

, who has reviewed films for six years, can be reached at luckyday@tmail.com.Beowulf is one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, but it doesn’t live up to the hype.


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