Beowulf’s Legend . . . in IMAX

Yesterday as an end-of-semester treat for myself I caught a double bill of Beowulf in IMAX 3D and I Am Legend in IMAX. 

Beowulf is an intense experience, and despite the PG-13 rating is definitely intended for adults.  The 3D effect was incredible, a huge leap forward from The Polar Express, my previous 3D favorite (and, interestingly enough, another Robert Zemeckis film I saw in an IMAX theater).  Depth of field was amazing as always, with all sorts of things flying out of the screen: spears, swords, bodies, limbs, and copious amounts of animated blood.  Speaking of blood, this stuff sprays, spurts, gushes, and pools in all sorts of interesting and cringe-inducing ways.  Beowulf is definitely “medieval” in tone, so I guess in that way it’s true to the tone of the original work.  And it tells a very interesting story about pride leading to personal tragedy and widespread catastrophe, so it’s got the “morality tale” thing working for it.  I loved the final shot – two pairs of eyes meeting over a wide ocean expanse – but this marks the first time in many years that I was less than completely impressed with a Zemeckis film.  Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Contact, Cast Away, and The Polar Express are all very near and dear to my heart, so I had very high hopes for this one.  In the end, though, the 3D experience was more enjoyable than the film itself, so I doubt I’ll be watching this one again.

7/10

 

I Am Legend features one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from Will Smith, who also impressed me in The Pursuit of Happyness a year ago (on my birthday, in fact).  Similar to Cast Away, this is one of those movies that rises or falls depending on the lead actor, who must carry the entire movie on his shoulders for much of the running time.  It’s a fairly tragic setup – a lethal virus eliminates 90 percent of the population and turns 9 percent of the survivors into crazed cannibals who only come out at night to feed on the remaining 1 percent, and Will Smith’s character is billed as “The Last Man on Earth” – but Smith pulls it off extremely well, and there’s a nice bit of humor at a point in the movie where laughs are very much needed.  And it has a hopeful ending, though it apparently strays quite a bit from Richard Matheson’s original novel of the same name.  Also apparently, the movie “borrows” quite a bit from more intense (and gory) zombie films like 28 Days Later, but since I haven’t seen any of those I wasn’t bothered by the similarities and was thoroughly entertained.  I did jump out of my seat a few times, though.  :)  And of course, the film’s presentation is stupendous in IMAX.  It should be great fun when it hits Blu-ray sometime next year.

With Happyness and now Legend, I’m so glad to see Will Smith dispensing with the cocky “Will Smith”-isms (which really annoyed me in I, Robot and Independence Day) and digging in to meatier roles.  He really brings his A-game to this one.  The role may not be Oscar-worthy, but the performance is.  Recommended.

8/10

One Response to “Beowulf’s Legend . . . in IMAX”

  1. To Beowulf: Ewww! Love you; but I am so glad I didn’t join you for that one! :)

    To Legend: I liked getting the CliffsNotes version from you! It does sound like an intriguing premise. :)

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