Beowulf in 3D

Another one of the BAFTA screenings Hazel let me tag along for was an early screening of Beowulf in 3D. I was less interested in the movie itself than trying out the 3-D experience. I've always been excited by the possibility of seeing movies in true 3-D, but all the 3-D movies I've seen to date have been a disappointment. The last movie I saw in 3-D was Superman Returns in IMAX 3-D and I preferred the non 3-D version. There were many moments in the 3-D version when I couldn't tell what was happening. In scenes of high motion, the picture seemed blurry.

Beowulf uses Real D's 3-D technology. Instead of those old corny red and blue 3-D glasses, Real D's glasses hold circular polarized lenses.

So how does it look?

A lot better than the old 3-D technology. The images seem better aligned, and the 3-D effect is more consistent from start to finish. There are still occasional moments of high motion, when things fly quickly from foreground to background or vice versa, when it's difficult to lock your eyes into the proper plane of depth, but not many. The new 3-D tech paired with Robert Zemeckis's motion capture technology produced something that looked like a really expensive, immersive video game cut scene.

The problem with digital motion capture animation, though, remains a certain dead or frozen quality to human faces. It's improving, but still not quite there. It's as if every character had one Botox injection too many. The more cartoon-like faces of characters in traditional animation or in a movie like Ratatouille are still more expressive.

As for the story, I doubt many high school English teachers will be showing it in class as a supplement to reading the old English poem, but it does elicit a chuckle or two, whether intentional or not. If you see it, see it in 3-D, as another milestone on the 3-D development roadmap. At our screening we were allowed to take the RealD glasses home, and with the addition of eyebrows, a rubber nose, and and a moustache they'll make a stylish and technologically advanced pair of Groucho Marx glasses for the next such 3-D screening.