The second reel of Robert Zemeckis' BEOWULF was previewed in digital 3-D along with a teaser trailer last night (July 25, 2007) at the UA Horton Plaza Theater in San Diego to kick off Comic-Con. Adapted from the oldest story in the English language utilizing performance capture and all CG moviemaking in collaboration with Sony Pictures Imageworks, Zemeckis revealed once again how he is pushing the boundaries of both technology and content. Hyper-real, ultra-violent and highly sexual, with the most voyeuristic virtual camera yet, this is a far cry from THE POLAR EXPRESS, despite staying within the boundaries of PG-13 (though an unrated DVD is being considered). Marketed as LORD OF THE RINGS meets 300, this hybrid form of animation may help pave the way for more adult fare.
Full of sword, sorcery, demons, dragons, monsters, golden treasures and the thirst for power, glory and immortality, BEOWULF (opening Nov. 16 from Paramount Pictures on more than 5,000 3-D screens between Real D's digital setup and IMAX's propietary experience) even surpasses 300 as a graphic novel on steroids. Warrior Beowulf (Ray Winstone) is forced to fight demon Grendel (Crispin Glover) -- a reptilian version of Gollum -- in the nude in this second reel to protect the kingdom ruled by King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins) and Queen Wealhtheow (Robin Wright Penn). However, Beowulf must now confront Grendel's mother (Angelina Jolie), who tries to seduce him into fathering her another son so she can reign supreme. Jolie, naked, sultry, emerging from the phosphorescent waters dripping a golden sheath, whipping her long braid of hair like a whip and sporting stiletto hooves, is bound to be the movie's hottest selling point.
Screenwriters Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary were on hand to introduce BEOWULF and answer questions: "It's like going inside a graphic novel," Gaiman proclaimed. He also praised Zemeckis' vision and performance capture wizardry, suggesting that it was akin to watching bad Shakespeare in the round performed by TRON actors. Still, he praised the digitally enhanced performances and suggested that Hopkins' should be considered for a Best Supporting Actor nomination.
Avary, who is more the BEOWULF buff, for his part, proclaimed that performance capture helped solve the aging problem for the lead character, who goes from 17 to 70, as well as the climactic dragon fight. Zemeckis, in fact, encouraged the screenwriters to be as wild as they liked, since it was going to cost $1 million a minute regardless of what they conjure up.