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This Week's Review: "Beowulf"

Prior to the 1975 Christmas retail season, a little company called Atari released the first true home video game through Sears, Roebuck and Company. The idea was to take the popular coin-operated Pong game found in arcades and bars and turn it into a household product with a small, manageable console that plugged into a standard television. During the ensuing holiday shopping season, thousands of people waited outside stores to buy the product, officially ushering in the home video game revolution. While I was not alive to hear the first radio transmissions or see the first automobiles roll down the street, I was forefront when the home video game revolution unfolded. In fact, I distinctly remember standing in a Sears store waiting for the chance to try the magical new Pong game that had everyone abuzz. The sensation was unbelievable: As a large digital pixel (the ball) bounced across the monitor (the court), my hand moved a flat panel (the racquet) into its path in order to bounce it back my opponent. Like any sport, this digital activity was something that required practice and skill, and with dedication one could expect to develop technique and strategy. I, for one, was hooked. Unfortunately, the $100 price tag (about $400 today) was well out of reach for my family (and everybody else I knew for that matter). I would have to wait several more years before I received my first video game console: the Atari 2600, arguably one of the most popular video game systems ever released. Like children today, I developed sore fingers from excessive play and endured the wrath of my mother as she screamed about the amount of time I was spending in front of the television. In contrast to the pixilated graphics that I was weaned on, the video games of today feature amazingly robust simulations of both real and fabricated worlds. The options have expanded exponentially as well with todays gamers engaging in everything from city planning to galaxy destruction. But just as the children of today scoff at the video games of yesteryear, so too will the children of tomorrow laugh at the games we find so alluring in 2007. The next huge paradigm shift will see the cessation of the television as a visual tool. Instead holographic goggles will allow gamers to step inside virtual worlds, literally immersing themselves within the game of their choice. Battling beasts will no longer be a two-dimensional task but rather a full-on confrontation. If you are keen to this upcoming shift in gaming, I suggest you attend a screening of this weeks feature, Beowulf, which is awash with the kind of state-of-the-art technology that will ultimately lead to the next video game revolution. For the uninitiated, Beowulf is a centuries old epic English poem of unknown origin. It tells the story of a great warrior who battles various demons in an attempt to protect a long-tortured village. Because of its historical significance, Beowulf has been translated numerous times into novels, plays and film. This retelling, with the added dimension of 3D projection, brings the story to an entirely new level. In this modern adaptation, digital artists and programmers recreate long forgotten worlds and creatures with amazing realism. Moreover, the characters in this film are created with motion-capture technology, an effect that generates realistic looking digital people from the movements of live actors. This may be the best 3D film ever created, so if you have the option, try to view it on one of the 1000 available screens throughout the country. If you dont have the option, dont worry. Even without the grandiose 3D effect, Beowulf is still a monumental film and well worth seeing. Somewhere in the future there will be a synthesis between movies and video games. If you want a little precursor, this film is a good place to start. An epic B+ for Beowulf. Cant decide what to watch?
Check out Doms Video Pick Of The Week

The Postman Always Rings Twice

Heres a classic from 1981 (remade from the original that was released in 1946). The Postman Always Rings Twice is the story of a lonely housewife who is seduced by a man hired to work at her husbands gas station. The connection between the two is undeniable, so eventually they plot the husbands murder in order to be together. Unfortunately, fate intervenes, ultimately giving the story some interesting twists. Starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange, The Postman Always Rings Twice takes onscreen passion to a new level. In fact, the original 1981 release had to be re-cut due to obscenity restrictions. Thankfully, the new DVD version includes the original directors cut. Check this one out is you want to see a classic Nicholson role and enjoy a touch of tasteful eroticism.

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