How? How! How in the world was “Beowulf” not among this year’s Academy Award nominees Best Animated Feature Film, but the yet-another-talking-animal-movie “Surf’s Up” made the cut? Here’s a movie that dares to be different, that aims to use animation as a tool to tell a story instead of to babysit kids, and Oscar ignores its artistry.
“The Polar Express” director Robert Zemeckis seems disinterested in making live-action movies anymore, but that’s fine by me if they’re as ambitious and accomplished as this one.
Ray Winstone (“The Departed”) is Beowulf, the hero called upon to slay a monster, only then to have to deal with that monster’s mom (Angelina Jolie) and a fire-breathing dragon. Even when the story lags, the visuals are amazing “ and definitely not for kids.
Although just one disc, Paramount has included a healthy bit of features, not least of which is the “A Hero’s Journey” featurette, showing how this motion-capture motion picture was made: largely on a bare set with the actors having little metal balls affixed to their faces. There are a few deleted scenes presented as unfinished animatics, and another doc discusses Beowulf’s origins as (yawn) an epic poem.