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Beowulf (1/10):

by Tony Medley

I was going to say that you couldnít pay me to see an animated film. But, upon reflection, thatís exactly what they do; pay me to see animated films. I donít generally go, but when I do go, I get paid. And Iím going to get paid for seeing Beowulf. Unfortunately, what I will be paid is grossly insufficient recompense for having to sit through it without bolting, which would have been understandable if only to preserve my sanity. What would make it worthwhile? Think Alex Rodriquez numbers.

This is yet another in the saga of films that arenít really cartoons, but arenít really real people, either. ďMotion-Capture AnimationĒ was first seen in a full length film in Polar Express (2004). Yeah, it looks like Angelina Jolie up there as the monster Grendelís mother, but it really isnít. And she looks naked, but she really isnít.

The animation isnít used just to camouflage Jolie, it makes Ray Winstone (Beowulf) look like he just stepped out of Goldís Gym, so muscular is he. It also condemns Robin Penn Wright (Wealthow, the wife of the King, Hrothgar, played by Anthony Hopkins, and Beowulf) to look like little more than a plastic doll. In fairness, the credits give all the actors ďvoiceĒ credits. So most of what we see is apparently animation.

Just about everyone struggled having to read the epic poem sometime in their educational careers, but probably nobody knows the story. According to this version Beowulf kills Grendel, shacks up with Jolie, takes over Hrothgarís kingdom and then has to face an even worse monster, who happens to be his son, although thatís not presented in any kind of a heart-tugging manner.

There were titters in my audience at the amateurish manner in which the camera avoided showing male frontal nudity when Beowulf decides to fight Grendel naked. Thereís always something conveniently hiding his groin.

Sitting through this thing for 93 minutes raised a question in my mind, however. What is Anthony Hopkins doing in something as bad as this? Does he really need the payday that badly? For that matter, what are Jolie and John Malkovich doing here? With credits like this, who needs Reefer Madness?

I thought the animation of human beings deplorable. So long as you have the actors, why not have them act in the film? As an added, additional gimmick, the film is in 3-D. I saw it at an IMAXģ screening. Making it bigger and with the 3-D gimmick just made it a bigger disappointment. To add icing to the cake, the glasses one has to wear to see the 3-D effects were less than pleasant to wear. My friend took them off halfway through, which causes the image to be blurry. I should have tried that. Maybe it was better blurry, although my friend said not. It certainly couldnít have been worse. If theyíre going to continue to make 3-D movies, they are going to have to make glasses that are not so uncomfortable.

November 14, 2007