Friday, November 16, 2007

Another Take on Beowulf

The Wall Street Journal reviewer saw a 3-D version and liked it. In fact, much of what the National Review writer didn't like is exactly what he was impressed with. The link is here, but non-subscribers may not be able to see it. (Rumor has it that Rupert Murdoch will take the online service free when he fully takes over; might be a good idea, but the Journal is so good I'm happy to subscribe, I'll admit.)

What's more, as if more is needed, the movie's animation and 3-D techniques offer a seductive vision of the medium's future.

We've seen a glimpse of that future before, and it didn't work. Mr. Zemeckis used an earlier version of "Beowulf's" motion-capture technology, or digitally-enhanced live action, in "The Polar Express," a ponderous Christmas fantasy that seemed to be populated by overachieving glove puppets with dead eyes. But that was then and this is now. The passing years -- all three of them -- have brought significant changes: facial features moving with a subtlety that's near-human rather than nonhuman, bodies conducting cross-border raids between the concrete and the abstract. Lapses still occur -- an occasional face will make you wonder if they had plastic surgery in the seventh century -- but the look of the film as a whole is literally captivating.

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