28 November 2007

Finals Week sucks, but...

I am so looking forward to this movie now.  I finished the book a few days ago, and it was excellent, and it looks like the movie adaptation is going to be amazing.  I'm hoping we get a midnight showing here, because that sounds like a lot of fun right now.

18 November 2007

The simulated 3rd dimension can be cooler than the real one

We drove to KC on Friday to see Beowulf in IMAX 3D. I'd been looking forward to it for months, and after seeing the Harry Potter wizard's duel in 3d (which rocked), I wanted to see if they put the 3d to good use or not. Overall, they totally did.

It took a few minutes to get used to the extra dimension, which makes sense if you think about it. They're trying to simulate depth in two very different ways: with CG and with the 3d trick. So at first, characters kinda looked like cardboard cutouts, each at different distances from the screen, and each with a CG body painted on it. But if you let yourself get used to it, it can be quite an immersive experience. There were a couple of times where I flinched or dodged out of the way of something on-screen. I felt kinda stupid the first time, but the the second time made me realize that in a normal movie, there's usually only one kind of physical reflex--the jump (as in, "I actually jumped out of my seat a little when that zombie popped out"). And while there were plenty of "jump" moments in Beowulf, this was the first time I've instinctively tried to dodge an axe that was thrown at the screen.

It may not seem like that big a deal if you haven't seen it, but I think it's another great immersive tool that I hope filmmakers start using more. Some people probably still see it as "gimmicky," but I imagine that's how people saw surround sound when it was first introduced. I mean, think about it: how much sense does it make to surround us with sound when the movie's only in front of us? The answer: it makes perfect sense. You wouldn't think of building a theater today without surround sound, because now it's seen as such a useful tool, allowing the filmmaker to overcome one of the limitations of a non-interactive medium. 3d can do the same thing. Don't get me wrong. I'm not calling for a 3d Revolution. Just as there are plenty of movies that don't need surround sound, there are plenty that don't need 3d. Star Wars, however, most certainly does need it, and I can't wait to see how that turns out. In general, I'm glad the technology is coming along, because I don't see holodecks coming out in my lifetime.

As for the movie itself (which is showing in non-3d theaters, as well), I found it thoroughly entertaining. My last encounter with the story of Beowulf was a year and a half ago, translating pieces of it from the Old English, so I particularly enjoyed the fact that Grendel spoke only in Old English, and that a bard in Heorot recites from the actual poem at one point. The plot followed what I remember of the story, with some creative licence taken with the origins of both Grendel and the dragon. I suppose a true Beowulf scholar might not approve of the adaptation, but I do.

IMDb rating: 7.0/10
My rating: 8.7/10