Earlier this week on Fandango, I purchased my IMAX-3D tickets to “Beowulf” opening Friday at the AMC Lincoln Square Loews 13 in NYC. From the early reviews, I’m ready to be amazed, thrilled, sexed, gored and violenced all in glorious 3D.
I’m glad to report that my expectations of “Beowulf in IMAX 3D have been met and surpassed. The 3D experience is phenomenally realistic. The computer generated likenesses of the actors are uncanny...with of course “modifications”. Beowulf, voiced by Ray Winstone, was whipped up as a 3D Digital Beefcake and King Hrothgar, voiced by Anthony Hopkins, who at 69, can shamelessly show off some booty. Grendel’s Mother, voiced by Angelina Jolie, is at the center of the buzz on how “real” she looks. Ummm, how “real” is Angelina to begin with? Hasn’t she been digitally altered in real life? Grendel, voiced by Crispin Hellion Glover, is unrecognizable and so is his dialogue. Unfortunately, Grendel speaks in Old English, which brought back horrific memories from high school English class when this “epic poem” was assigned. John Malkovich (Unferth), Robin Wright Penn (Wealthow), Alison Lohman (Ursula) all appeared as medieval versions of themselves. Wiglaf, voiced by Brendan Gleeson, the loyal friend to Beowulf, was my personal favorite and the scene where he is riding in full gallop on a burning bridge and jumps his horse across the chasm is breathtaking.
The film opens with drinking and partying in King Hrothgar’s newly completed Mead Hall. Soon, Grendel barges in and 3D blood, gore, and bodies start flying at you. This is not for the squeamish. If gratuitous nudity and violence offend you, wait until November 21st and see Disney’s “Enchanted”. I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoyed the totally nude Beowulf fighting the monster Grendel and in order to get that PG-13 rating, there were very creative uses of 3D objects that just happen to be blocking his CGI enhanced manhood. On the flip side, Grendel’s Mom is totally nude, with mud dripping off her body minus CGI nipples.
The screenplay adequately pushes the plot forward and there are enough 3D surprises to keep the audience visually stimulated throughout the film. Kudos must also be given to the sound effects and mixing geniuses because without the audio, the visuals would just be pretty 3D pictures and the sensory illusion wouldn’t be complete or realistic.
Back in the ancient times before Playstations and XBox 360’s, many of us played a game called “Dungeon’s and Dragons”...Google it if you are young and don’t know what the heck I’m talking about. Beowulf’s battle with the dragon is a visual fantasy that uniquely captures those long gone days of role playing. This sequence is worth the 16 bucks you have to lay out for the IMAX 3D experience.
“Beowulf” is the oldest surviving epic poem of the English language and Robert Zemeckis deserves a special Academy Award for taking this unreadable poem that is a student’s nightmare and making it a visual masterpiece.