It's not clear how aware the rest of the world is of the new Beowulf movie, but it's quite the huge deal here.
Coming out in November in 3-D, 3-D IMAX, and plain old regular (not the way to see it if you can help it), this is a performance-capture animated film, a la Polar Express. I'm going to assume "spoilers" aren't a huge issue in the story of Beowulf, but if you don't know the names of the monsters he kills, possible spoilers ahead.
First, though -- the obvious question on most people's minds is probably "OMG will this be like teh Zombi kiddzors in PolarXpress LOL?????" First off, you all way overstate the "zombie kid" thing -- Polar Express was stylized to look like a children's book illustration, and did it fine. The Steve Tyler elf was the only really creepy character.
But this is a mixed bag. Beowulf himself is a character who solves the classic action movie dilemma of whether to hire a muscular actor or a good one. Pudgy Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast) is given the body of He-Man to play our hero. On the other hand, Anthony Hopkins' King Hrothgar looks exactly like Hopkins, and Angelina Jolie looks like herself, but possibly even hotter. Hrothgar's queen, though, is clearly supposed to be attractive but isn't, she looks mannequin-like. And she's not the only one. The characters who look like the actors are great, but the rest look a bit like the humans in the Shrek movies.
And then there's Grendel, played by Crispin Glover, working with director Robert Zemeckis for the first time since Back to the Future. Picture a giant Gollum, only he's got scales and is a zombie, plus his head is slightly Glover-shaped. There's an implication in what we saw that Hrothgar is Grendel's father, which I don't remember from the old story, but I never read the uncut original, so maybe.
So now, the footage...[remember, spoilers for those who don't know the legend]
We saw the entire second reel of the movie. It opens with Grendel's arm getting ripped off and blood pouring over the camera POV. Beowulf is naked, his dick only just obscured. He is hailed as a hero, but meanwhile, the dying Grendel goes home to Mama, who appears to be a giant fish-demon (though she's not fully glimpsed). In a language that sounds like olde English, he tells mom that Beowulf did this to him, before shrivelling and dying.
In the night, we see things through what must be Mama Grendel's eyes, flying in through the skylight of the great hall. Meanwhile, Beowulf has a bad dream about the queen, who demands "Enter me and give me a son!" before getting freaky evil looking, and of course Beowulf jerks upward and awakaens at this point, to see bodies hanging from the ceiling.
Once he figures out the deal, Beowulf sets off to face Big Bad Mama by himself. He eneters her lair, and she shows up...but as a naked Angelina Jolie.
You heard me. Naked. Lara Croft ponytail moves like a serpent's tail. A tiny bit of dripping gold liquid obscures the nips, but less than your average stripper pastie. Then she approaches Beowulf, and...
Look, I can't beat about the bush on this (no pun intended, she's smooth below the waist). She jerks off his sword until it dissolves into a thick liquid. I swear that's what happens. Allegedly this movie is aiming for a PG-13, but I do not see how.
End of reel.
The naked Jolie scene will make teenage boys grow hair. Remember, this will be in 3-D IMAX.
But as for the rest of the movie -- how is animation an advantage? Twofold -- one, Ray Winstone as Beowulf. Two, it's easier to do cool 3-D stuff in CG-animation.
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However, it's a bit like Robert Rodriguez was with digital cinema -- I get the sense that Zemeckis thinks this technology is a bit better than it actually is. This is an early cut yet, so who knows, but as I said, some of the characters still seem a bit too Shrek-like.
I don't know if there will ever be a market for actual porn in 3-D IMAX, so this may be as close as it "comes" for a while.
You know what sucks, though? McFarlane is doing the toys, and their Mama Grendel figure is the fish-demon version. Not naked Jolie.
Todd, I want a "sword jerk-off" boxed set. And I want it yesterday.