Classic Intel: Beowulf - Online Review

'Jolie's appearance makes plain another problem, namely the fact that it isn't the only attempt director Robert Zemeckis makes to sex things up a little. But sex what up exactly? The inside of a hard drive?'

Beowulf is a difficult film to form a final opinion on because, despite some nice camera work, the vocal inflections of Ray Winstone and the occasionally well-directed action, it is also a film where the main artistic decision surrounding it is fundamentally broken.

Five years after its release, the motion capture used to transport Winstone et al to the mystical Norse world looks fairly dated but, more than that, it looks like a decision that needn't have been made in the first place. Why do we want to see smooth skinned recreations of Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright, John Malkovich and others when we could have seen the real thing? Wouldn't the money spent on the motion-capture process be better spent investing in some physical sets to put the real actors in to? In films like Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, The Polar Express and others, the use of motion capture is understandable. Here it is completely baffling - there's little-to-nothing that couldn't have been achieved with a physical actor and minor CGI fiddling.

The smooth-skinned, dead-eyed recreations prove difficult to relate to as a member of the audience but they also seem to present a similar problem to the actors. Line readings consistently include odd pauses; watch for Winstone's 'they were great... warriors', you wonder if it went through his head to say something different. 'Stick puppets', perhaps. Malkovich too has a typically Malkovichian accent - wavering and non-distinct although there seems, bizarrely, to be some Welsh in there - but amplifies it to the power of ten.

The problems with the motion capture continue; some shots have clearly had more attention lavished on them than others. Angelina Jolie, for example, late on, looks clearly more polished than anything in the film to that point. And Jolie's appearance makes plain another problem, namely the fact that it isn't the only attempt director Robert Zemeckis makes to sex things up a little. But sex what up exactly? The inside of a hard drive? And only to a 12A rating anyway? What was the point? The question remains, unanswered.




Beowulf was showing on LOVEFiLM Instant.

Look further...

'for the limitations of CGI, Zemeckis and crew have managed to fashion a satisfying tale with all sorts of solid elements' - Film School Rejects, B

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