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The Question of Beowulf


What to make of Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf.

Is it to be considered a pure animated film or a digitally enhanced live action feature? Is it of a piece with Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and Polar Express? Or does it end up in the company of 300, Sin City or Sky Captain and The World Of Tomorrow?

I haven’t seen the film; I’ve only seen the trailers and clips. So far, I’m not impressed. And so far I’m having a hard time accepting this as an animated feature. Should this film compete for an Annie or an Oscar against Persepolis, Ratatouille and The Simpsons Movie?

Buzz from the first public screenings this weekend is overwhelmingly positive (these screenings were in 3-D Imax). This film is shaping up to be huge at the box office. Early reviewers are blown away by both the filmmaking and the technical razzle dazzle. Even sourpuss film critic Jeffery Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere (no fan of animation nor sword & sorcery pics himself) has posted an ecstatic rave:

“Robert Zemeckis’s Beowulf is an exceptional film on its own terms, but the 3-D version I saw last night is, no exaggeration, something close to stupendous… This film is obviously animated through and through. It deserves the Best Feature Animation Oscar, bar none. I don’t care what anyone says — this is not live-action except in the most rudimentary sense of the physical acting aspects, which represent, in my view, a relatively small portion of the whole.”

I’ll decide for myself what camp this picture falls into after I actually see it. In the meantime, I’d be interested in hearing what our readers have to say.