Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Ray Winstone, Crispin Glover, Angelina Jolie, Robin Wright, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich
Plot: The warrior Beowulf must fight and defeat the monster Grendel who is terrorizing towns, and later, Grendel's mother, who begins killing out of revenge.
Genre: Animation / Action / Adventure
Rating: NC16 for intense sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sexual material and nudity.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“I haven't drunk anything yet, but I will kill your monster.”
Beowulf (pronounced as "bay-wolf") can be described as a colossal disappointment. One of the most anticipated movies of 2007, and nearly three years in the making, Beowulf is all-hype but with little, if any, positive end product.
Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis who gave us memorable pictures such as Forrest Gump (1994), Contact (1997), and Back to the Future (1985) seeks to build upon the technical success of The Polar Express (2004) but ends up with a punctured tyre.
Unlike digital CGI, hand-drawn, or stop-motion animation, Zemeckis and his team of talented animators have pioneered a cutting-edge technique that's able to capture photo-realistically an actor's facial expressions and body movements in animated form. In a way, Beowulf makes cinematic history for being the first feature film to be entirely created using the above-mentioned technique.
The animation is truly stunning and visually captivating. There's a jarring problem though - the eyes of the characters often seem to 'stare into space' rather than effectuating eye contact with one another; it's the main reason there's low chemistry among the characters, and also why we feel the presence of a vacuum between viewer and character.
Nevertheless, Beowulf has the potential to be nominated for Academy Awards for best visual effects, sound, and sound editing categories though. It's unlikely to win any with Zack Snyder's 300 (2007) in the hat as well.
So what really caused the downfall of Beowulf? The filmmakers have simply ignored the very basic fundamental of making a great movie - the screenplay! No great film can survive with a weak script (no matter how impressive the effects are, or how well the director and cast have collaborated).
Beowulf's screenplay is as shallow as a fifth-grader's essay. To compound the misery, it's poorly edited with numerous scenes (especially during quieter moments) showing an obvious lack in pacing.
Beowulf's failure could have been prevented. Alas, the filmmakers are too short-sighted to notice its major shortcomings. For all the slash and burn, plus the wonders of modern movie magic, Beowulf isn't the cinematic knockout that I have hoped for. Watching Beowulf was more of a chore than a pleasure. And if I may add: Zemeckis, work harder on those soulless eyes please!
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