Release Date: November 16, 2007

Movie of the Day for Friday, November 9, 2007
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Lara Croft got evil.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
78/94 Shane Jenkins Nice 3-D. Aaaaaaand absolutely nothing else. What's with the Austin Powers-ish nude-covering fight scene? Dumb!
158/214 Max Braden Lousy cgi, but even more, the movie is just boring.

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In 2004, Robert Zemeckis made Tom Hanks do lots of silly stuff as different characters, animated the results and turned in The Polar Express. The instant holiday classic earned $176.6 million, a result that more than justified Zemeckis' unusual approach to yuletide filmmaking. The question then is simple. Was it the subject matter that made the movie a hit or was it the unique style of motion-capture animation?

Beowulf appears to be the title that will settle this debate. Zemeckis has once again had actors wearing motion-capture suits perform scenes then he has animated the results. In this case, he has dismissed the holiday cheer of The Polar Express for a title much more fitting for The Lord of the Rings. In fact, Beowulf is the original fantasy epic, an Anglo-Saxon poem whose popularity has allowed it to survive the test of time. The tale is presumed to be at least a millennium old if not more. This is a re-telling of the epic battle between Grendel and Beowulf for control of Heorot and really all of Geatland (you call it Sweden), but the difference is in the design. The live action/stop motion process creates a singularly unique look, a style that has never been seen before in theaters, even including The Polar Express.

Perhaps due to the rare nature of the filming, several great actors jumped at the chance to participate in the project. The headliner is Angelina Jolie as the evil seductress who tries to lure Beowulf to the forces of darkness. Ran Winstone, the Sexy Beast himself, follows up his wonderful outing in The Departed as the titular lead character. As one of the largest and most physically intimidating actors in the industry, his casting is quite appropriate. Also on board are Sir Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, Brendan Gleeson, Crispin Glover, Alison Lohman, and John Malkovich.

The question is whether audiences are intrigued by such a filmmaking venture. The reality is that no fantasy title has succeeded in the post-Lord of the Rings era. Is that a reflection of the popularity of J.R.R. Tolkien's work superseding the otherwise geekified nature of the genre or is it more indicative of the lackluster fantasy titles we have seen in the interim? Will mainstream audiences prove captivated by the ethereal look of the movie or will this be readily dismissed as some weird World of Warcraft clone? There are lots of questions raised by the release of Beowulf, and we won't be able to accurately answer any of them until opening weekend. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Beowulf
Main Cast Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone
Supporting Cast John Malkovich, Brendan Gleeson, Dominic Keating, Alison Lohman, Robin Wright Penn
Director Robert Zemeckis
Screenwriter Neil Gaiman, Roger Avary
Distributor Paramount
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG-13
Awards Awards page for Beowulf
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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