Beowulf ... WHAT??? at

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Old October 23rd, 2007, 02:06 PM   #1
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Beowulf ... WHAT???

OK, I've had it. Enough is enough. Just caught an ad for the movie Beowulf directed by Roger Zemekis

"Starring" Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie ... except it is computer animation!! I thought it was an ad for a video game .. But NO! They are calling this a movie. And they are not saying "the voices of" they are saying "starring"

Sorry, starring implies a flesh and blood actor actually appearing in front of the camera and doing their thing; not standing in a sound booth, eating donuts, reading a script

First we had 300 .. well, at least that had real flesh and blood actors... even if the CGI green screen made it look like an old drive in B-movie

Now we have this ... a video game style cut scene disguised as a movie

What .. nobody wants to make an epic anymore?

I didn't think Troy was a great film (I mean, Brad Pitt acted with very little but his muscles) but it at least followed tried and true movie making traditions; real actors embellished in whatever special effects at hand.

Every movie .. especially historical epics .. use SFX, no argument there. But let's not make that the point, shall we?

Gladiator worked because of the performances; even surrounded by CGI collosuems and armies, we could watch good actors looking at each other, expressing some emotion

Who wants to watch some puter animated Anthony Hopkins stare at a puter animated Angelina Jolie and try to emote ... I wouldn't be able to watch this in a theatre without laughing

I thought this experiment went down in flames with the Final Fantasy movie

I thought the point of all this cool tech was to "give voice" to fantasy elements in an actual movie ... like LOTR ...

This looks worse than green screen crap like Captain Tomorrow and 300

Think I'll fire up the DVD of Beowulf and Grendel, a very good, low tech, low key telling of the legend and, maybe later, fire up The Vikings with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis as a compliment move; just to see how good B movies should be done
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Old October 25th, 2007, 11:24 AM   #2
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I'm right there with ya. I work in computer animation, and I still don't wanna see this movie. It's not so much the "why bother" aspect, although there is a lot of that. It's the whole problem with them being made to look like the exact same people who are voicing them, and but as if they all had bad botox. Their eyes are dead looking, and their facial expressions all seem just wrong. There's a shot in one of the commercials with Beowulf yelling in, I assume, rage. Instead it looks like he's squinting to see something while yawning. They could take a cue from the work on Davey Jones. His eyes and facial movements were what really sold him. There was so much more emotion in that octopus face of his than in any of the beowulf characters.
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Old October 25th, 2007, 11:32 AM   #3
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Davey Jones was still done with Bill Nighy acting and motion capture and such correct? That at least would give them a base to mimic. I haven't seen the previews yet but from what I have read here it is all computer animated with no real humans in it...? Eh... I like like animations to be animations, not attempt to be real life.
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Old October 25th, 2007, 02:12 PM   #4
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Maybe they did more than voice overs? Maybe they did all the motion capture as well.

I don't really see a problem with it myself. A movie like this once in a while is no big deal to me...

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Old October 25th, 2007, 03:45 PM   #5
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For the process of Beowulf all the actor's movement and expressions have been captures via Motion capture, I believe...
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Old October 25th, 2007, 05:12 PM   #6
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I guess Zemekis is tired of shooting on location. Getting old he prefers the cool air conditioned soundstage and the convenience of the nearby craft service table. No more shooting on an island with Tom Hanks!

This looks like technically he's trying to improve the mocap process from the "Polar Express" (Which everything looked loose and out of sync. Too many "pregnant pauses before lines. "Like everyone was "trippin" or drunk). I think he's determined to make the "first" great epic mocap project. It seems he's thinking technology first.

I think that's why Speilberg still insists his projects be shot on film with classical techniques. Make sure the technology doesn't become the movie.

Both are still masters of their craft IMO.
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Old October 25th, 2007, 07:58 PM   #7
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I prefer Shrek. The first one.
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Old October 26th, 2007, 11:07 PM   #8
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A friend of mine worked on it and Polar Express.

Zemeckis said he wants to be the Walt Disney of motion capture movies.

I support the idea of trying to make a cg human that passes as real-it would be a great achievement though obviously it would be too much work to ever replace actors-there are a couple of shots in the preview that just about make it through the "uncanny valley" problem.

A Jolie rising out of the water--her eyes look very good --but then it fades and looks off again.

Instead of making a whole movie--they should make a short--or have a cg human character in a small part-and work on that for 3 years instead of a story with 500 cg characters.

For technology like this they first have to hide it from the audience--not tell them there is a cg character in it--because the brain immediately starts looking for it. Have a character sitting in the background in a live action movie or having a 1 line dialogue part--something small.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 09:43 AM   #9
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In response to the bit about Davey Jones, yes it was a form of motion capture, but the face was animated by artists who matched the movements and expressions to match Bill Nighy's performance. With Beowulf, the facial animation, I believe, is all part of the motion capture/facial capture process, like The Polar Express and Monster House. The problem with that is, facial animation is so very subtle, that the slightest difference in expression makes all the difference. The eyelids widening a fraction of a centimeter can change an expression from sleepy to alarmed. The computer isn't going to care about that though, it's just trying to match the movements of the dots on the actors face as best it can.
I really feel like Beowulf could have been THE adult CG movie if only they had put more effort into the faces, and less into the performance capture. I'm not against photoreal CG movies, as long as the performances are believable.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 11:19 AM   #10
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So I went to go look at this trailer as I had not even heard of the movie, much less seen the trailer.

I think all of the criticisms hold water, but I was amazed at how much better it looked than I expected.

One thing I do feel's ground breaking work, good or bad, whether you think they did a good job or not. I can understand a director wanting to try it out, because once you make the leap from CGI/live action to purely CG, there's no longer this seam between the two you're forever trying to cover up. If you can eventually draw the viewer into the image and the story (even if it looks "fake"), then there's no limit to what you can do.

Think of it as a similar state of mind as watching cel animation. The viewer knows clearly what they're looking at. But once you pass a certain bridge, it doesn't matter, even if the facial expressions are a little off.

(hell, I've seen plenty of high-ranked dramatic movies with real life actors where the "facial expressions were a little off"!)
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Old November 8th, 2007, 11:51 AM   #11
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Nobody here has mentioned that Beowulf is a 3D movie, yet that's it's biggest draw in my opinion.

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Old November 8th, 2007, 02:23 PM   #12
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True. All the positive reviews have been saying it's worth seeing in Imax 3D.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 02:28 PM   #13
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Hey it saves money on makeup and costumes and stunt men.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 05:46 PM   #14
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I have to post back again, after seeing more than one trailer now for the movie.

I agree. The eyes are lacking. I could forgive any other non-realistic transgression in the CG work, but they gotta get the eyes right. They're really, really close, but everybody looks somewhat dead.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 05:47 PM   #15
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As a movie insider told me long, long ago, movie actors aren't really paid to act at all.

They are paid for one thing and one thing only...

Their ability to put butts in theatre seats.

To the extent Angelina Jolie, or Harrison Ford, or Tom (shudder) Cruise succeeds in doing that - they'll get extraordinarily large checks. And they'll deserve them.

Some "stars" do it by actually acting well. Some do it by "star power" alone. Others by unique "camera beauty." Or by "lifestyle/attitude/infamy - or whatever. The point is it doesn't matter who or why - if you can demonstrably deliver bodies into theater seats, you'll get paid. Because the bottom line is actually all about selling a nickels worth of popcorn for $5. In the street level movie business that's the the ONLY thing that matters.

Did you notice how they're starting to promote that the annimated Angelina Jolie Grendel is --- largely UNCLOTHED! You and I both know it's a freeking DRAWING that has NOTHING to do with the real Ms. Jolie. But you wanna guess how many extra tickets get sold by the faux-promise of pesudo-Jolie Nakedness?

If that image puts more butts in seats - she gets PAID - and actually should.

Reminds me of the slimy promoter in Sting's "Bring on the Night" DVD explaining why even tho he was surrounded with some of the greatest jazz musicians of the time, he deserved the lions share of the gate.

Slimeball replies something like: Because no matter how good those musicians are, if you put any of those other guys names on the Marquee, we're not a sellout. With Sting's name - we are - in 5 minutes.

Butts in seats.

End of story.
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