(Review originally written at 29 April 2008)

Motion capture movie making is of course still in its very early stages. It shows some potentials for the future of film-making but it's not really good enough at this moment to make a great and convincing movie with. Still the most convincing computer animated movie was "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" and that movie proved to be so costly that the studio went bankrupt soon after the movie its release. Who knows, maybe in 10 years from now it will be perfected and people will be able to make this type of movies faster and cheaper and above all also better. I'm actually looking forward to the day they start making movies with the likenesses of already deceased actors, complete with voice impersonating techniques. Wishful futuristic thinking or the future of film-making? Who knows, time will tell, although I'm sure that there always be need and demand for actors and 'normal' film-making, so all those crew and actors wont ever have to go back to school to learn a different profession.

"Beowulf" is already a big step up from Robert Zemeckis his previous motion capture movie attempt "The Polar Express" but still it also suffers from the same problems. It still remains hard to bring the right emotions to the screen on the character's faces and their skins look way too smooth and perfect to consider the look a full 100% realistic. And overall the movie really makes you think at times why did they have to make this movie completely computer animated? Couldn't they had done basically just as good with live action movie making techniques with live real actors in front of the camera?

Overall the look of the movie is good but at times it still feels as if you're watching a cut scene of a Playstation game. Especially during some of the action sequences. Of course the beauty of computer animated movies is that you can go just as far and over-the-top with its action as you want to, since there are no limitations to its possibilities. Notmally I'm not a big fan off silly over-the-top action in animated movies but in this case it didn't bothered me since it seemed to suit the story and the character of Beowulf right.

It also makes this movie more or less look like a 'children's' movie, which "Beowulf" definitely is not. While it looks seem to be made for the younger ones, the story is definitely one for adults. And also the movie features quite an amount of graphic violence.

But of course a movie is not all about its looks. The story of Beowulf seems like a pretty entertaining and strong story on its own. However this movie gives you the feeling that it isn't giving you halve of its story. At times the movie makes to big leaps into time, which makes you wonder what happened in between. It was as if they ran out of time or money or both halve way through the production of the movie, which forced them to cut a large portion of its story. It therefor isn't the most coherent movie to watch but this only becomes more of a problem in its last part. The most part of the movie and its story does entertain but it also knows to build some more depth and brings some layers into the story, that focuses on the nature of mankind. It doesn't all work out and not as effective as it could had but the right intentions for it are definitely there.

Some of the possibilities of motion capture movie making already shows in the look of its characters. Ray Winstone is a far from muscular or heroic looking actor but thanks to the wonders of technique he looks like the perfect super human with amazing strength. On the other hand some actors look the same way as they do in real life, such as Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Brendan Gleeson and Angelina Jolie, which again in a different way also shows the possibilities of computer animated movies.

Still I hope that Robert Zemeckis will also return to 'normal' film-making again. His last 'normal' movie "Cast Away" already dates back from 2000. Don't forget that this is the guy that once brought us the Back to the Future-trilogy, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", "Forrest Gump", "Contact" and the earlier mentioned "Cast Away", among many other great movies. We need some more movies like that Robert! He already however is working on another motion capture movie at the moment, "A Christmas Carol", based of course on the famous Charles Dickens novel.

Nevertheless "Beowulf" remains a perfectly watchable entertaining movie for in between to watch.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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