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."
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.