screenplay by Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman
directed by Robert Zemeckis
the weakest thing about Zemeckis' Beowulf is the presentation: the graphics and Zemeckis' direction--it seems they haven't yet gotten CG 'photorealism' down quite right, and Zemeckis still appears to be at the experimental stage with the form, not really knowing what to do and what not to do with it. in fact, his hyperkinetic direction takes away from the true brilliance of the movie, which is the story Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman have crafted from the otherwise sparse narrative (i don't mean the language of the original poem, some of which Gaiman and Avary leak into their screenplay, i mean the actual details of the story). true, the dialogue itself can be a bit clunky, but the story is fuckin' brilliant (nods to QT and Avary's Pulp Fiction). contrary to what you may have heard, as far as i can tell A&G have been perfectly faithful to the original. where they do depart from it are in places that allow exactly the kind of liberties they have taken to subvert and, paradoxically, realize the full potential of the tale as a narrative.
certainly the departure has an almost kitsch-y comic-y zing to it--the slinky, sexy femme fatale of Grendel's mum, f'rinstance--but that only seems right considering what we've always had with Beowulf: a particularly zippy piece of Archeo-Pulp entertainment.
but i digress. i'd meant to talk about the weaknesses of the film, and how CG doesn't have to be as clunky as it seems to be in Zemeckis' hands. i'll let you see for yourself. first, go watch Beowulf. you've seen it? then check out this vid:
(thanks to cloudedOne over on YouTube; clips from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. music by Tool--Wings for Marie, pt. 1 from 10,000 Days. note to self, get in on the Final Fantasy series.)
the eyes are still a little creepy, but don't they seem warmer to you than Wealthow's were, even in her tenderest moments? and the action...if you're going to go all hyperkinetic about it, that's how it's done.
now don't get me wrong...i entered the theater a bit uneasily when i went to see Beowulf, and a good number of scenes at the beginning had me cringing in my seat for all the wrong reasons. but as i've said before at the other life, i walked out pretty happy with what i saw. although admittedly, most of it had to do with the reasons stated above.
the odd thing is, the Pixar people seem to know exactly how to handle this sort of thing. why can't the rest of Hollywood seem to get it?