Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Is This The Film They Call “Beowulf”?

I watched Beowulf in 3D at the IMAX Theater in SM Mall of Asia yesterday with the family. At Php400 a ticket I thought, “This better be worth it.”

Well, the 3D made the movie an interesting experience, not unlike looking into Fisher-Price’s View-master for almost 2 hours. At first the 3D effects seem like Robert Zemeckis showing off a new toy (which is not so new really): coins tossed towards the camera, tree branches in the foreground, a mouse on a rafter, etc. Big deal, right? But then Grendel barges in. A flashback of Beowulf fighting several sea monsters. A battle at the beach front. The dragon attack. Ooh, the dragon!

The big action set pieces all benefit from the 3D technology. Suddenly it’s like you’re in the middle of the action. Imagine what 3D technology can offer in the hands of a really skilled director; imagine the opening assault on Omaha Beach in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan in 3D. By the end of that sequence, the audience will be wet, bloodied and shell-shocked.

My humps, my humps, my humps, my humps!

Okay, so much for 3D. But how is the film? What’s fascinating is that this is a film co-written by Neil Gaiman (with Roger Avary), and his mark is undeniably in the script. The screenplay is a modernist re-imagining of the oral tradition classic. The movie touches on the nature of stories, myths and legends, of tales told and songs sung from generation to generation. Just how much of the tale is truth and how much is fiction, formed to fulfill a social purpose? Are our heroes really infallible, or do they also have feet of clay? And in the end does any of this really matter?

My hunk, my hunk, my hunk, my hunk!

It seems a bit heady and heavy for a swashbuckling, all-CGI movie to tackle, but wisely the writers and the director do not hit you on the head with it. Instead, they throw blood and entrails and flying arrows and tossed bodies towards the audience. And some of the audience actually flinch and dodge in their seats.

After watching it in 3D, I don’t think I’d want to see it in any other format. That’s too bad for its DVD sales.


Nelson said...

I don't know about you, but I found the film unintentionally funny in some parts (Beowulf's privates blocked by an elbow or a prop a la Austin Powers; Angie Jolie stroking his sword until it melted into silver drips). Camera angles were extreme, abrupt, and dizzying. Overall, I found the story quite thin, obviously the showcase was the battle between Beowulf and Grendel, and Beowulf and the dragon.

Neil Gaiman die hard fans will kill me for saying this, but I was never really impressed with his writing. It's all about the build-up, the character, but the plotlines are just so thin (or none at all -- "The Mirror Mask"). Sobrang foreplay, pero konti putok he he he

joelmcvie said...

@NELZ: I found the movie intentionally funny (like you said, Beowulf's privates blocked by an elbow or a prop ala-Austin Powers). It wasn't the smoothest of scripts, yes, and the plot is quite rail-thin.

But when you knock the plot, you really are knocking the original Beowulf legend. It had a very thin plot line, the characterization was flat, and the whole story had gaping holes in them. If you read the companion book, you'll see how the two writers took the rail-thin plot and added their reinterpretation of things to fill in the gaps. Add to that the "demands" of delivering a Hollywood blockbuster, and I can understand why the final product is such. NOT Oscar worthy, yes. But my point lang naman is this: It's so much fun watching it in 3D. =)