Beowulf 3D Imax Adventure

All poor Grendel wanted was some peace and quiet and when he goes into town to stop the racket, his poor bulbous eyedrums are assaulted with more noise as peasants and soldiers, alike, scream in horror at Grendel’s grotesque appearance.  I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically at the irony of the situation.  This movie had a lot more laughs than I expected, which was pleasantly surprising.  But, before I finish this review, let me spin the tale of how we arrived at this happy endpoint.

My quest to go to the “Beowulf:  3D Imax Experience” began on Thursday.  I excitedly called my unenthusiastic husband Thursday morning to explain that the 3D Imax version was playing at the theater one exit south of his work place and that I wanted to go Friday after work.  My husband bluntly told me “no”, explaining that he was starting to feel bad because he has caught a cold from that b****** Tim the X*r*x-guy.  (I hear so many wonderful tales about Tim the B****** X*r*x-guy.   Needless to say, my my outlook for Friday was shattered, compounded by the fun of working from home on Friday to nurse my sick husband.  And so Saturday rolls around and Steve’s back on his feet.  He’s energetic, but snotty, so once, again, I bring up “Beowulf: the 3D IMax Experience” and he relunctantly agreed that we could go.

We arrived 30-mins before the show after eating lunch at the Marie Callender and making the obligatory stop at the Best Buy.  Our tickets were, of course, not available at the electronic kiosk used to pick-up tickets that were ordered on-line, so we went to customer service to get our tickets and pick up our cheesy yellow 3D glasses.  After that we went to find a seat in the theater.   The theater was packed so we made do with seats just off center to the right in the 3rd row.  We sit, and sit some more.  Two guys sit next to us.  They have some “coffee” from the snack bar and they start some inane conversation I don’t remember.  And then over the PA, the anouncer tells us the showing is sold out and that we all need to move to the center (themepark show style) to make room for the late-comers on the ends of the rows.  And then comes the announcement that people sitting on the ends of the rows in the gray colored chairs will not be able to experience the 3D effects, which illicits a very audible moan from the people in the gray seats.  And we sit some more.  Steve finally takes a look at the clock on his cell phone and sees that it’s now 10-mins past when the movie was supposed to start.  A couple of theater workers then enter an announce that they are having technical difficulties with the 3D and it should be fixed any minute now.  Oh, by the way, a warning to the people sitting in the first three rows:  The sound will be very loud and if it’s too loud don’t come out and ask us to turn it down because we can’t.  Uhhh … what?  And so we sit some more.  The dour looking theater guy in the manager get-up starts signing people up for the theater’s rewards card.  They left us sitting in the auditorium for a total of 40-mins after the movie was supposed to start, with the soundtrack from the movie playing over and over again, before they came out to announce that the projector was broken.  They offered us 3 choices:

1.  Stay and watch the movie in Imax 2D and recieve a free pass after the movie

2.   Go across the hall to the other auditorium where the movie is playing in digital 3D but not Imax and recieve a free pass after the movie

3.   or Leave, get a refund and a return pass to see the movie in 3D Imax at some other time

We chose the 3rd option and got tickets for Sunday afternoon.  Exasperated we went home.  I fell asleep at 7PM only to awaken at 2AM with a twinge in my neck.  Oh no, my neck is going to lock up …

And lock up my neck did, in a way I hadn’t experienced for ~15-years.  My neck was so sore I couldn’t hold it upright, so it crooked far to the left to avoid the pain.  I couldn’t turn my head to the right either.  I was a mess.  My husband was overjoyed at the prospect of not returning to the movie theater, but I said, “Oh, no, we are seeing that movie today in spectacular 3D IMAX.”  And back to lunch — salsa is fun when your head is permanently cocked to the left … This time we arrived at the theatre and hour early.  The line was long, but at least we knew we wouldn’t be in the dreaded 3rd row again.  The women in front of us told us that there was 50/50 chance the 3D would be working today and we told her about the sound problem.  She had a child with her and opted to see another movie instead of potentially hurting her child’s hearing.  Meanwhile Steve went to ask customer service about the 3D and the rep told him it was working.  Meanwhile there was a family confused as to which theater they belonged in since they had different 3D glasses than everyone else.  And once again we waited, and sat some more waiting for the movie to start.  5 minutes over time.  10-mins over time.  My gosh won’t these nerdy wannabe screen writers next to me shut-up about the hero’s journey!!!  (My  gosh, what if these are real striking screen writers!!!?) And then the announcement to squeeze to the middle and the bad gray seats came up and then miracle of miracles, the lights dimmed and …………we were subjected to previews.   After the previews the 3D started on the Paramount logo and then what looked like someone peeling plastic off the screen happened and the 3D droppped down to 2D.  And then a few seconds later the same thing happened again, only from the opposite side of the screen and the 3D came back.  This happened a couple of times more in the first few minutes of the movie.  After that, the 3D stuck, but we did notice a few moments when synchonization was lost, resulting in a blurry picture. (Oh and apparently they fixed the sounds, too).

Now back to the review …

This movie, although animated, is not for children.  There is a lot of violence and some equal opportunity simulated nudity that not limited to Angelina Jolie (thank goodness).  The story is fast-paced at the beginning but begins to drag a little at the end.  Nonetheless, this was a very enjoyable movie and over-the-top in many ways.  As for the 3D, it really didn’t impact me as much as I thought it would.  Rather the crispness of the digital print was what left a strong impression on me.  We could see all the little details they but into the character rendering — peach fuzzy facial hair on the women, little nicks and scars on Beowulf and the warriors, and liver spots on the old men.  The animation looked really good, but the eyes still are too perfect to be believeable.

If you like action and adventure and don’t mind a little of gore, then I highly recommend this movie.  As for the 3D, it’s interesting as a novelty, but not necessary.  What is necessary is to see this either in a very good digital theater or in one of those theaters that offers it with the 35-mm print.  In the case of IMAX (and the theater in Carlsbad CA) with no 3D, it should be a 70-mm print for even better resolution.

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