Beowulf – 2-Disc Director’s Cut
When the huge hall called Heorot has finished being built, king of the Danes, Hrothgar, wants to give it its grand opening with a huge party. However, the loud noises the Danes make during the festivities overwhelm the demon-like creature Grendel who has extremely sensitive hearing. It doesn’t take Grendel long to arrive at Heorot and once he does, he makes a massacre, killing just about anyone in the hall. Strangely enough, King Hrothgar isn’t attacked and remains alive.
Hrothgar decides to close down the hall until further notice and puts a bounty on Grendel’s head. Anyone who can defeat the monster will get half of all the treasure the Danes have. When Beowulf, nephew of King Hygelac of the Geats, hears about this, he and fourteen of his men decide to go and help the Danes. After his arrival, Beowulf requests Heorot to be reopened and a new party to be organised. This in order to lure Grendel back. His idea succeeds and after a fierce fight, Beowulf manages to defeat Grendel and leaves the monster going on the run, off to die. What Beowulf doesn’t know, however, is that Grendel also has a mother who wants to get revenge and when he and his men go after Grendel to finish him off, Beowulf is in for a confrontation he could have never expected…
Sound and Vision:
The film is made with “Motion / Performance Capturing” where the movements of real actors are captured and then transferred to 3D animations. This makes the movie look really terrific with sparkling images, bright colors and tons of detail. However, the disadvantage is that the characters get the looks of the cast but lack the fluid moves of real people. Emotions are still a problem in facial expressions and excessive movement of limbs are used to add some but this only makes the film look even more as a cartoon.
The sound is nice but has a pretty low bitrate which makes that it lacks a bit of depth. Decent but could have been better.
– A Hero’s Journey: The Making Of Beowulf: decent making of where we get to see how the process of Motion Capturing works.
– Beowulf: Mapping The Journey – Production Pods Gallery: several short featurettes that cover specific parts of the motion capture technique
– The Origins Of Beowulf: Five minute feature where director Robert Zemeckis and writers Roger Avery and Neil Gaiman talk about the differences they made with their movie compared to the original story
– Beasts Of Burden: Designing The Creatures of Beowulf: another short feature, this time about how the monsters in the film were created
– Creating The Ultimate Beowulf: two minutes about why Ray Winstone was chosen as Beowulf
– The Art Of Beowulf: short feature where we get to see concept art and other stuff that was used as preparation for the movie
– Additional scenes
Beowulf is the latest incarnation on film of the legend of Beowulf and Grendel. This time we don’t get a live action movie with real actors, but instead Robert Zemeckis created an animated movie with Motion Capture technology which should give the film another dimension. As an animated movie it’s far from bad. However, as a feature film, it’s got a too high Shrek-level when it comes to movement and emotions of the characters. It’s clear that motion capture cannot replace real actors (despite them still being used) and although there are some special effects that would hardly be possible in a normal movie it would have been better to have made a clear choice: humans or toons. Now we get a mixture of both and the end results therefore disappoints a bit. Still, Beowulf as an animated movie is quite nice with spectacular action and you may very well enjoy it. Especially when having a big screen and decent surround set.
Warner did a good job on the technical side with decent sound (which could have been better with a higher bitrate), excellent image quality and several interesting extras.