Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Generally, I am not inclined to take in big budget full-length animated features. After three invites to attend a preview of Beowulf over the past few weeks, I finally succumbed.
Essentially, the story is a mythical tale about a King and his subjects in a far-away land, plagued by a monster that terrorizes their quaint mountain village. Beowulf sails into harbor all brawn and guts to purge the tiny Kingdom of the menace because it is his want to do so.
After the beast is destroyed, the mother - a seductress with great mystical powers - tempts the mighty hero with gifts of everlasting life; before any filmgoer in the theatre can whisper - "sold his soul to the devil" - a pact is struck between the two and kept secret from the proud villagers who hail him as a conquering Hero!
The moment the King (played by Anthony Hopkins) lumbers onto the silver screen, the filmmakers hold the audience in their thrall by virtue of the stunning special effects conjured up by the state-of-the art CG imagery.
The concept of live action reference footage providing the skeleton upon which animators build the characters performance is nothing new, according to animation historian Leonard Maltin.
"The first real motion caption occurred when Dave Fleischer put on a clown suit and his brother Max traced his movements one frame at a time in 1915. They patented the device that enabled them to do this and call it rotoscope."
Many of the scenes are hilarious. For example, when the slovenly Monarch slips off his throne to strut and stroke his subjects with thoughtful musings, filmgoers snicker at the smartly theatrical articulated gestures - and wildly chortle- as they witness rolls of fat rise and fall at his waist or catch sight of his whimsical features contorting in odd intriguing ways. In fact, at times the actor's face appears to poke through the exterior features in a liquid jello of sorts.
"The data that drives the face looks like a flapping puppet," the animator notes, "it won't record volume, meaning if the actor squints or purses his lips, it tells you when they did it, but it won't tell you how much they actually moved."
In contrast, the bodies are carved out to perfection depending on plotline twists.
For instance, when Beowulf announces his intention to tackle the task of downing the monster, he notes he'll undertake the challenge naked. After all, the demon has no clothes on, either.
In a flash, he strips off his outer garments at the torso to reveal a buffed bod with fabulous pecs and chiseled abs. Then, in a cat 'n mouse moment, he teasingly half-turns and slips off his trousers to reveal a tight attractive butt which appears to have been "airbrushed" to perfection.
Heh, I yearn for an a** that looks like that!
But, Beowulf's precious manhood remains out of view.
In fact, the filmmakers taunt the filmgoers on occasion.
For instance, after a lout hurls a sword and the razor-sharp tip lands upright in a sturdy oak table - Beowulf strides towards it - the blade subliminally-suggesting the width and breadth of the warrior's steely-hard ****. The audience roars!
In another scene there is a gasp from the audience when Angelina Jolie's character sensually rises up from a calm pool of water to reveal full luscious breasts and an awesome breathtaking nubile frame.
In fact, Ms. Jolie remarked to the press on the heels of the sensation she caused, "I had no idea the imagery would be so real."
Essentially, the film is a piece of eye-catching fluff.
But, there are a couple of morals to the intriguing tale, nonetheless.
For one, a stiff d*** has no conscience.
Two, myths are made of just that, myth...