Thursday, November 15, 2007

Beowulf - 80% on Rotten Tomatoes??

How on earth is Beowulf, the Zemeckis-directed mocap (more like mocrap! Ha!) flick, getting 80% good reviews? It's looked like the stupidest piece of trash since I first heard about it at Comic Con, and each new trailer and poster only makes it worse. But it's getting good reviews! How??

First off, my bias: I hate hate HATE the mocap "animation" style that has been used in The Polar Express, Monster House, and now Beowulf. It is utterly lifeless, and, in the cases of Polar Express and Beowulf, completely unnecessary. Why bother making a CG movie if you're going to make it as "life-like" as possible? We already have a way to do that that works much better, and it's called "live-action." At least Monster House gave their characters a sort-of cartoony appearance to try and justify its CG existence. But Polar Express and Beowulf have digital representations that look exactly like the actors providing the voices! That doesn't make any sense. Why would you not just make a live-action film? On top of that, the "animation" is terrible. The characters are nowhere near as expressive as real people (or good cartoons, for that matter), and it looks awkward, like men and women covered in wax moving around. The same goes for Monster House, which, despite the cartoony designs, still had less life in the animation than an early episode of South Park.

Beowulf is supposed to be in 3D in certain theaters, and the snippets of the reviews I've read indicate that this is the biggest reason to see the movie. But, as cool as Nightmare Before Christmas was in 3D, I have zero desire to see Angelina Jolie's wax sculpture moving around naked with a tail in 3D. That sounds like a compound headache.


jeri said...

I disagree with the comments about Monster House, which I thought was awesome.

But I thought Polar Express was awkward, and Beowulf doesn't appeal much to me either.

I think the reason they chose to do this style for Beowulf is because the story is fantasy, and there enough fantastical elements that require CGI that the movie would be half-"fake" anyway. Either way one does it, the movie is either half fake or half real, and viewers will probably find fault with the quality of the CGI or with the motion-capture.

I think the movie would have been awesome with rotoscoping like Waking Life. :)

Ryan said...

Look, I enjoyed most of Monster House, but the mocap was still unnecessary. Everything else was fine.

Regarding your comments about Beowulf, I thought of that too. "It's going to have grotesque monsters and fantasy settings, so CG would be easier to do that way." But look at Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and all the other big fantasy epics to come out lately. They're a mix of live-action, practical effects, and CG, and they work. Surely Zemeckis has seen these movies, so I don't your theory holds up. I think he's just in love with his new "style," and, like Tony Scott, needs to ditch it ASAP because it hurts his movies.

Nobody said...

What's this about Tony Scott? Speak up, young man, I couldn't quite hear what you said!

Ryan said...

I think Tony Scott's style, as seen in the BMW short, Man On Fire, and Domino, is awful and distracting. Tell me the story, jackhole, stop doing your little hand-winding camera tricks every 2 seconds, stop moving the camera pointlessly, stop flashing the projector light or pretending the film stock is bad. STOP. I liked the story of Man On Fire a lot, but I was throwing stuff at the screen by the end every time he inserted one of his stupid little camera "tricks."

Nobody said...

I think Tony Scott's style, as seen in the BMW short, Man On Fire, and Domino, is awful and distracting.

Aha, there is your problem. You have not seen Deja Vu, in which he drops the expressionistic editing and coloring and returns to SpyGame-style straightforwardness (that is, in the first-order film).

And yet, Deja Vu's central device (the second-order film) is a metaphor for all cinema, yes, but especially about his own movies in particular. I don't want to give anything away but the roles of director, photographer, and editor are all condensed into the movements of a single character who unites craft and art like a turntable DJ.

Deja Vu is the film about Tony Scott films that can simultaneously satisfy the detractors as well as fans of his recent style. Just see it already! How many times do I have to say it? I didn't put it on my top 20 list for no good reason!

Hethe Srodawa said...

Monster House was the first movie that I enjoyed mocap in. I thought it worked great, lots of nice subtle human movements that were really well acted. Like the basketball scene. Now besides Monster House every other mocap thing I've scene looks horribly acted but now I'm inclined to think that the artists involved are limited, not the technique. I thought Monster House looked like good stop motion. I think the thing that throws me the most about mocap is the facial animations. Cut off the heads and I don't think the body movements are bad or stiff. Maybe that's why Monster House worked for so many people, because the heads were so stylized. Just a thought. Monster House is one of my favorite animated movies so I had to say something. That movie gave me hope for the aesthetics 3D animation which I haven't been a huge fan of. I've never loved Pixar's art direction or treatment of a 3D model, although I love they're stories. Look what you did Ryan! I'm supposed to be working :)