The Beowulf legend originates from a 700 A.D. oral tradition that was adapted in epic poem form by the English and into film form by director Robert Zemeckis -- using motion-captured live-action performances that are turned into a computer-generated light show. Much like the IMAX 3D screenings of Zemeckis' previous effort, The Polar Express, Beowulf's tale of a hero who comes to rid a Scandinavian village of its monster, while screaming his name every chance he gets, is more a showcase for RealD technology than an engaging film.
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A car accident, a nosy cop on a motorcycle (Deborah Kara Unger), and Sharon's escaping into the deserted town that rains ash, all collide in a chain reaction that leads Rose into a literal heart of darkness. Silent Hill, the town, inhabits a peculiar limbo - it is quite literally cut off from the rest of the world - where air raid sirens (surely some of the creepiest sound effects you're ever likely to hear in a film) precede the coming of a dark tide that washes over the ghost town with surprising regularity. With the arrival of the eldritch dark, the walls literally shred away, revealing an industrial hellscape that lies somewhere beneath the reality of the decaying town, populated by human-faced, screaming insects, twisted lava infants, and something called "Pyramid Head," that has an incredibly unwieldy helmet and one of the largest swords in cinema history. It's a brutal, dark, and hideous place and the highlight of the film.
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But it isn't. In the hands of a professional angst wrangler like Larry Clark, I'd bite. Clark makes up his mind fairly quickly whether we're supposed to care or not about his waistoid characters and their crappy lives and then creates but honestly and with ugliness in this vain. Avary directs like a nasty teenager, asking you to care and then laughing at you for doing so.
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