RaaD Movies, News and Technology

Dany's RaaD Roundup


After watching Beowulf in IMAX 3D, there are so many things to talk about.

It is hard to believe that this film was given a PG-13 rating. I don’t usually talk about ratings due to my dislike of the MPAA ratings board, but I HAD to talk about it since the entire time I was watching it, the film felt like it was rated R. It was an odd, almost dirty, experience watching this digitally enhanced film style, which looks like almost completely lifelike digital cartoon characters in such adult oriented battles, conversations and seductions. I say almost because the characters look more lifelike than the scenes I saw from the last major movies to try this style: The Polar Express and Final Fantasy: The Sprits Within. The characters look amazing in still photos, but when it comes to characters actually speaking, emotions aren’t conveyed completely convincingly yet. The problem is that while the characters’ mouths move, their cheeks and eyes don’t move enough in relation to their lips. When happy people talk and are smiling, their lips don’t just turn up, but the skin on their cheeks rise and you usually see lines form around their eyes. In essence, a person’s whole face lights up, which is not something that was able to be conveyed accurately, but the technology is getting better and better with each movie like this, but until this technique is nailed, characters come off at times having a conversation with what look like dead eyes (aka the uncanny valley).

Interestingly enough, this animation technique is amazingly effective at making female characters look forever young. Angelina Jolie‘s face looked amazingly real (basically because you almost never SEE her talk and when you do, she talks in a tone intentionally devoid of emotion) and beautiful. On a similar note Robin Wright Penn‘s queen is seen as a young bride and then later in the film as an older queen, but the animation style makes her look as if she had barely aged. The aging process for the male actors (Ray Winstone, John Malkovich and Brendan Gleeson) was MUCH more convincing, I wonder if that has anything to do with Hollywood reluctance for seeing old looking women, while being comfortable looking at older looking men… All of the scenery and nonhuman characters (dragons, monsters, animals, etc) looked great though!

The IMAX 3D experience was pretty good too. The 3D part was done well, even if a bit unnecessary, but it was not destracting. The effect was more interesting and worked better when objects were pulling away from the camera (when the camera pulls back from a focal point, like having the camera pull back from the mead hall through a forest, allowing you to watch trees whisk farther away from the camer) than when objects are tossed towards the audience (characters throwing coins at the audience), it felt less distracting that way.

It’s hard to find fault in the telling of this classic story (from the amazing epic poem), it’s a bit simple, but this is one of the oldest and most interesting surviving hero stories (with it’s underlying complex story that come full circle and juxtapose the differences and similarities between the two famous kings: Beowulf and Hrothgar) which is told extremely well.

I had a great time watching this movie and hope this technology matures enough in the upcoming years to convince George Lucas to utilize it in the creation of the last Star Wars trilogy (Episodes 7-9). The process of being able to make actors look both young and old, regardless of the actors’ actual ages would be very useful over 20 years after Star Wars Return of the Jedi.

Thanks to the NYTimes Bits Blog for the pic.


November 28, 2007 12:12 am - Posted by | movie reviews, movies

1 Comment »

  1. […] scenery and completely alien monsters, but CG humanoid characters never look right. Recently, in Beowulf, the scenery, Grendel and the Dragon look absolutely flawless as CG, but whenever characters moved […]

    Pingback by I Am Legend « RaaD Technology, Movies & News | January 21, 2008 4:57 pm

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