Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Beowulf in the Fold

Thanks to the kindness of Michael Spears, a friend from work, Sylvia and I went to see tonight's sneak preview of Beowulf, presented in 3-D on the Imax screen at West Edmonton Mall.

I wasn't expecting much, to be honest; I prefer live action features to animation. But the timeless story was well told, thanks in great part to Neil Gaiman's script, excellent voice acting and some astonishingly vivid virtual cinematography. The 3-D work was excellent as well, with every scene showing true depth; even the Paramount and Warner Brothers logos that opened the film looked amazing. 3-D has come a long way since It Came from Outer Space and Creature from the Black Lagoon. There were a few of the seemingly mandatory 3-D gimmicks - rocks and spears flying out of the screen toward the viewer - but director Bob Zemeckis really restrained himself, making each such moment much more effective. One such gag actually made me flinch; you'll recognize which when you experience it.

But I think what I appreciated most was the film's emotional core; it's the first time I've cared about CGI characters since the Toy Story movies. Hero or villain, every character gives you a reason to care about their plight, to try to understand their actions and feelings. And I loved the ending, about which I'll say no more lest I give anything away.

Four out of five stylized letter Es.

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