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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Myth > Computer Animation > Large Frame Format > Beowulf Ė Directors Cut (2007/Blu-ray)

Beowulf Ė Directors Cut (2007/Blu-ray)


Picture: A-††† Sound: A-††† Extras: B††† Film: C+



The career of writer/producer/director Robert Zemeckis is certainly an odd one with few highs and many lows.His films manage to make money, but are often forgettable with time.Perhaps his highest moments as a director were working with Tom Hanks, who together made Forrest Gump in 1994 and Cast Away in 2000.Of course his claim to fame will still reside in the Back to the Future Trilogy, but even with films of this caliber, he has started to rely on heavy digital work to make his films and that short cut will be his ultimate downfall.


He has always had an interest though in the creative cartoon world and digital animation combined with the real life, which his 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit would kick off.Then many years later in 2004 with the film The Polar Express, again utilizing Tom Hanks, but using totally digital visuals.Beowulf, his latest feature combines a digitally created world and digitally altered real live actors in order to bring the mythological world to Ďlifeí and the results are not only mixed, but at times a complete failure.


Most people at some point in time probably HAD to read the story of Beowulf and very few attempts have been made thus far to bring this epic to the silver screen, after seeing this film you will quickly realize not only the tremendous task of doing so, but also the reasons perhaps no one else has dared attempt to do so.It will also make you appreciate the attention to detail that Director Peter Jackson took when faithfully translating the world of Tolkien to the big screen.Unlike that trilogy, this one is just far too complex and requires such an imagination that even in a CGI world the characters are uninteresting.


The casting for the film is also mixed, we have talented Ray Winstone as the title character, John Malkovich as Unferth, Anthony Hopkins as Hrothgar, Robin Wright Penn as Wealthow, Crispin Glover as Grendel, Allison Lohman as Ursula, and Angelina Jolie as Grendelís mother.Itís a stacked house of talented A list and B list actors, which certainly shows that a project like this appealed to many actors/actresses who wanted to see the story come to life.However, in the hands of Zemeckis (who again can usually round up a great cast) often fails to deliver the goods and the screenplay by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary works, but visually the storytelling never quite captures the essence of the classic epic poem.


Fortunately for fans of the film as well as those looking for a great Blu-ray to add to their collection from a performance-basis, this one delivers and then some.Letís begin with the transfer of the film, which is presented here in a highly rich and detailed 2.35 X 1 anamorphic framing, which is in 1080p High Definition.The film was released for IMAX presentation with 70mm prints, which were taken (like the 35mm prints) from the digital intermediate or digital 3-D source and this Blu-ray faithfully captures the visual world created and looks great.Despite the fact that the visual storytelling doesnít quite link together like it should, the problem is certainly not a performance issue as this Blu-ray truly captures all of the nuances of the film with solid deep blacks, pure whites, and a wide color range that DVD could never come close to.


Then there is the staggering sound mix, which is also a winner available here in Dolby Digital TrueHD and bringing a top-notch sound design to itís fullest glory.The overall fidelity and depth of this mix is one of the best weíve heard to date on Blu-ray and could be reason enough to want to track down this disc.It would have been interesting to hear this is a DTS-HD master as well, but the Dolby TrueHD is a winner in its own right!


Aside from being the directors cut of the film, which runs 114-minutes as opposed to the theatrical cut, which ran around the same length itís difficult to really decipher where the moments of cutting were, but both versions are so similar that it really doesnít equate too much.The extras presented on this disc include a handful of features that are targeting to those who are primarily interested in the creation of the filmís digital world and the design of the film, which I was not impressed with, so these features really didnít really grab me either.There are also some deleted scenes present, which a quick run through seem to be wise cuts from the film, although those who really love the story would probably like to see more footage to accommodate that.A conversation with Zemeckis is also included and this 50GB Blu-ray makes for a solid release despite some of the films shortcomings, the overall performance makes it highly tempting though!



-†† Nate Goss


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