Skip to comments.Olde English meets new technology in 'Beowulf' (Fake muscles on actors)
Posted on 11/11/2007 7:25:28 AM PST by Stoat
Sunday, November 11th 2007, 4:00 AM
Beowulf, voiced and motion-capture-acted by Ray Winstone
Beowulf faces down Grendel's mother, Angelina Jolie (also below).
Thanks to modern technology, "Beowulf's" bare-chested hot bods are buffed to the max without the benefit of steroids. The cast of "300" had to endure weeks of working out to get in shape for their film, but for Zemeckis, it was as easy as dressing his middle-aged stars - Ray Winstone, John Malkovich and Anthony Hopkins - in skin-tight body stockings. Although tracing the sinewy figure of Angelina Jolie into virtual beauty wasn't as difficult.
"We were able to create our own beefcake from scratch," explains screenwriter Roger Avary ("Pulp Fiction"), who co-scripted "Beowulf" with fantasy author Neil Gaiman from the Olde English epic poem that dates back to at least the 8th century. As with 2004's "The Polar Express," Zemeckis' previous motion-capture effort, his actors wore suits festooned with dozens of sensors that allowed computers to track their moves and map them onto the film's CGI characters. "It was like being able to costume somebody down to their flesh and skin," Zemeckis says. "We started with archetypes and real photos and had our concept artists boil them down to what we were looking for.
"It was a very sophisticated version of what the police use when they create the likeness of a criminal, except we used the technology for the opposite reason: to fine-tune what we wanted our hero to look like. Rather than have Ray go on a diet of a gram of protein a day, or do upside-down gravity crunches, we were able to just digitally sculpt him into an ideal."
"My wife thought Beowulf was me when I was 22," says Winstone ("Sexy Beast") of his onscreen alter ego. "She pulled out a picture of me from back then - it was Beowulf. I'm sure she'd like him for real - if she told me she prefers me the way I look now, I wouldn't believe her."
In an age of graphic novels, video games and million-dollar special effects, filmmakers have to do more than simply point a camera at a sandal-clad, sword-wielding hero (Brad Pitt in "Troy," anyone?). They have to make him - and his muscles - larger than life and "realer than real," with the extra visual oomph that only a stylized, green-screen environment or serious CGI animation can provide.
And if getting there means making your stars to wear form-fitting Lycra, so be it. "There's me, Hopkins, Malkovich - who's tall and slender - and we're all getting on a bit," says Winstone. "Then standing next to us you've got Angelina and Robin Wright Penn. The boys have funny shapes, then you've got the girls - they look great!
"When you put that suit on and go out on the set with some of the finest actors, you feel very naked at first. There's giggles from the crew, all that kind of stuff. You start thinking, 'F- it, let's just do it.' You get rid of your inhibitions and start enjoying it. It's like going back to basics because you're using your imagination again."
John Wayne is coming back Fur Shur.
I suppose they can resurrect any deceased (or entirely imaginary) actor they like and have it look real....or in this case, better than real.
But will audiences pay to go to a theater to see a stylized amalgam of, say, Theda Bara and Marilyn Monroe or will a living actor / actress with widespread name recognition still be able to command astronomical salaries?
Considering the increasing popularity of anime, I would suggest that there are an awful lot of people who simply don't care about "name" stars particularly, but there are still many who do, at least for the time being..
Boy, a lot different than the Beowulf and Grendel that Gerard Butler was in! woo.
CGI muscles are definitely a portent. We actually have 5 complete NARUTO costumes in a box for use next Halloween ~ as with this Halloween. We know his popularity will increase. Best part about NARUTO is that he can clone himself!
When he was a high school senior, he and a team of his buds got an A+ on a "Beowulf" project they did for their English class.
They used the XBox game "Gears of War" and created selected scenes involving Beowulf and 3 other characters to tell the story of "Beowulf"...the hunt for Grendel and the slaying of the dragon and many others.
They took screen captures then overdubbed the audio with their own voices and sound effects and a hard rock soundtrack...edited it all together using Windows Movie Maker and burned it onto a DVD with titles and credits.
They titled their project "The Geats of War". It was awesome. Quite imaginative.
Believe it or not, most bodybuilders do it without chemical substances. I've been hitting the weights pretty hard the last 6 months and keep my protein intake high while controlling calories -AKA naturally. It'll build pounds of muscle on your frame.
Amazing. My friend and I are going to go sometime as part of a project on modern retellings of the Beowulf story (we also got to watch Beowulf & Grendel and 13th Warrior). Now I’m really psyched to go see it, the fact that it’s Beowulf is enough to interest me but the technology has got me really really interested, along with a few of those still shots =).
I'm embarrassed to say that I had to look that up :-)
I guess I don't need to waste my time submitting a job application to a video store specializing in anime :-)
The "cloning yourself" business sounds intriguing. If I could swing that, I could send my clone off to work and just spend my time eating, sleeping and FReeping :-)
Indeed. Angelina Jolie is one of those people who occasionally is just "too sexy" for me to watch, in that they make me go crazy and I have to get up and leave, and take a walk outside or something :-)
Tina Turner used to do that to me years ago as well.....one of the hazards of being a normal, healthy male stoat I suppose :-)
In her transformation for the role, the actress appears to have regained her famous knock-out curves, perhaps with a little digital assistance.
Filmed in a photo-realistic animation style, the release has been described by the Los Angeles Times as a "hyper violent and highly sexualized tale".
Naked truth: the actress strikes a sultry pose in a promotion shot for her new blockbuster.
What a great idea! It must have been grand, screaming fun to make and I'm glad that it turned out well. Congratulations!
This is going to be one of those hugely successful movies that men of all ages will be in love with but (most) women will turn up their noses at.
Too bad ladies, not all movies can (or should) be "Steel Magnolias"
In a related note, I seem recall reading somewhere that the writers completely butchered the story of Beowulf, pretty much standing it on its ear.
That's probably going to be true, particularly considering the fact that NONE of the publicity for the film shouts that it's "Done with a strict attention to the integrity of the story".
Perhaps it was judged as not being 'exciting enough' for modern audiences.
I’m not too sure about that, judging from the fact that my friends and I had a ‘girls night’ where we went to see the movie 300. Apparently blood and epic warfare can be popular with even the girliest of girls as long as nobody’s wearing a shirt, especially if one of those people is Gerard Butler.
My only problem with the way Beowulf looks is that Angelina is the WRONG person for Grendel’s mother. She’s supposed to be scary in the ancient-monster-hag way, not the frighteningly-large-lips way.
hehehe! Being a male stoat I hadn't noticed her lips in a negative way, but in all honesty I usually have a tough time being critical of ladies :-) With Hyzenthlay as Casting Director, who would you have cast for the part?
Cast as Grendel’s Mother? Helen Thomas, of course.
Although entirely appropriate, that would insure the film's instant demise. No one would pay to see it other than adoring Leftist "journalists" who view breathtaking hideousness as a virtue, as evidenced by the long line of Socialist 'heroines'....Bella "Mrs. Hat" Abzug, Rosie O'Donnell, Anybody on the NARAL Management Team, Mrs. Clinton, Nancy Pelosi,..the list goes on and on.
But you're right...an excellent casting for a Mother Demon.
I don’t know... anyone who’s good at acting, especially in situations where there are green screens and spandex outfits and not a lot of realism on the set, and then she could just be digitally monster-ised afterwards. Even Angelina might have been OK if they hadn’t made her look so much like... Angelina, and more like an old female monster-thing, like Grendel’s mother in Beowulf & Grendel was pretty good IMO.
Spoiler follows in negative review.
OK, I just made the mistake of seeing it today. We went because of a favorable review in the WSJ. I cant believe that they made this heroic tale into humanistic brainwashing propaganda.
The appeal of mythic hero stories is that there is someone out there who is worth emulating and that evil can be defeated.
But, in in this version the hero poo poos his reputation. Unlike the authentic character, this Beowulf lies about his deeds and doesnt actually defeat the chief demon.
The film sends the message that to believe in a savior who is capable of defeating evil is foolish.
Instead we are supposed to believe that sixth century Viking warriors dont call on the gods because the gods only do for us what we do for ourselves.
This film is blasphemy for Beowulf devotees. The producers should be sued for using his name in the title.
Perhaps most outrageous is that the final scene is dominated by Grendals mother still hovering around the body of Beowulf (who doesnt seem to go to valhalla)and is present to tempt the new king. This is so wrong.
With Oden and the new Roman god Christ dismissed from the storys universe, we are left in the end with a powerful demon trying to wreck more corruption so much for eliminating the point of epic myth that usually seeks to bring closure to the problem of evil.
Are they thinking of a sequel?
There are a few good points, such as some of the effects are nice. Grendal does look exactly as you might imagine him. But, you should be aware the the computer graphic imagery is often cartoonish and not fluent like 300.
I went in with such hopes. This Demythologed Beowulf is plain stupid.
It is no shame to be curse by demons. It is a shame to waste time seeing this cursed film.