Schlong of Beowulf

Beowulf's sword, just before it spurts into droplets

Matthew and I went and saw Beowulf in Digital 3D today.

After the initial lead-in, where it was hard to tell if the movie was ironic, completely oblivious, or just terrible, all of a sudden a switch was thrown and the movie became really, really good. I think it was about the time they departed from the original poem and journeyed into Neil Gaiman land (not that I don’t love the original, but Neil Gaiman is awesome). The beginning was somewhat damaged by the earnest fascism of the superficially-similar 300 (which was still enjoyable despite its insanity).  Once the movie demonstrated that it was far more sophisticated, I started to really enjoy myself.

A bigger problem with the movie, which was otherwise surprisingly raw, is an early scene in which Beowulf strips naked to confront Grendel without weapons or armor. What could have been an awesome battle featuring a supreme, albeit CGI, human specimen was transformed into a bit out of the Simpsons, that was old when Austin Powers used it a decade ago. Everywhere that Beowulf moved, a random object obscured his penis. This was so exaggerated that people were openly laughing in the theater. The worst part was that because the movie was in 3D, the random objects were foremost on the screen, attracting extra attention to the inanity. Apparently the original intent was to have two versions of the film, one rated PG and one rated NC-17. Unfortunately that’s currently not allowed by the MPAA since a person might go to the “wrong” version of a film. Personally, I’m disappointed that the lowest common denominator wins out so often in entertainment, and I find it absurd that extreme violence and blatant sexual discussion is a-ok for 13-year-olds, but nipples and genitalia are not. Anyhow, despite that one scene and Beowulf’s mother’s Barbie-doll anatomy, the movie was fun. I’m actually looking forward to any future NC-17 release, even if I have to watch it at home, sans 3D.

I’m very happy to say that the Digital 3D technique was much better than the Imax 3D that was used at the end of the last Harry Potter movie. It seemed to me that Imax 3D makes use of vertically- and horizontally-polarized light orientation to separate the two images. The problem with that technique is that if you tilt your head then the polarizer on the left eye isn’t completely vertical and the right isn’t completely horizontal (or vice versa). That made for uncomfortable viewing after even twenty minutes. Digital 3D, on the other hand, seems to use circular polarizers, which depend on chirality to separate the left image from the right. Since the chirality doesn’t depend on the orientation of the glasses, it’s much more comfortable, even if the glasses make Elvis Costello look cool. We used circular polarizers to image force chains in Bob’s lab.

PS: Yes, that’s a picture of Beowulf’s mother rubbing Beowulf’s sword until it spurts into liquid metal all over her hands. It’s that kind of movie…

Advertisements

3 Responses to Schlong of Beowulf

  1. brianbunton says:

    Wow. That’s more embarrassing than just seeing penis. (Could you imagine the day they’d do the 3D visualization for Beo-winkie?) But I don’t really mind the sanitization of art for mass consumption as long as I always have the option of seeing the unedited version should I choose to.

  2. jwambaugh says:

    Am I a bad person because I get annoyed when I see people refer to the “blocking view of a penis with random objects” gag as something from Austin Powers, or really annoyed when I see someone refer to it as a gag from Austin Powers stolen by the Simpson’s Movie? I realize it probably didn’t originate with the Simpsons, but isn’t the Simpsons supposed to be the modern cultural reference point? When did Austin Powers replace them? I’m so old now…

  3. […] it soon faded away. (For an example of bad – or you could also say tasteless- uses of 3d, see this blog review of […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: