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shark boy and lava girl

Beowulf and Grendel ― and Grendma
Friday, Nov. 16, 2007 By RICHARD CORLISS Ray Winstone during a scene from Beowulf
Paramount / AP
Article ToolsPrintEmailReprintsSphereAddThisRSS The giant strides into Mead Hall and bellows, "I am Beowulf, and I'm here to kill your monster." That's how Hollywood turns a Danish warrior from an eighth-century Old English epic into a movie hero. Deep-voiced announcer: "He's big. He's bold. And he's boastful... He's Beowulf."

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Some critics have already chided Robert Zemeckis's new animated feature, written by Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman, for insufficient fidelity to its fabled source. I have to confess I can't remember even sleeping through the poem in high-school English class. So my only, ignorant criterion has to be: Is Beowulf a good movie?

On this exam, mark Y for Yes. It's got power and depth, and two kings whose greatness is diluted by hubris, and a thrilling dragon fight, and the demon Grendel as a tortured outcast, and a naked monster who looks a lot like Angelina Jolie. In their use of "performance capture," a technique that fans of traditional animation view with the sternest skepticism, the film's makers have managed to show more acute behavioral emotion, as well as some fantastic images uncapturable in live action. You want to read Beowulf? Get the book, I'm not stopping you. You want bloody adventure with a brain, see the movie.

The story will be familiar even to those who don't know the poem. The kingdom of old Hrothgar (voiced and modeled by Anthony Hopkins) is troubled by the predatory sorties of Grendel (Crispin Hellion Glover). Accompanied by his "14 brave thanes," Beowulf (Ray Winstone) comes across the sea to slay the monster and, not incidentally, add another laurel to his own legend. He repels a Grendel attack on Mead Hall, severing the beast's arm. Grendel limps back to his lair, where his mother ― she has no name, so we'll call her Grendma ― watches him die. When Beowulf discovers the lair, Grendma reveals herself in the form of a beautiful seductress (Jolie). He returns to Mead Hall declaring that he killed both monster and mother, but displaying only Grendel's head. Many years later, when Beowulf has succeeded Hrothgar as king, his land is threatened by a dragon. Now Beowulf must vanquish one last monster. And this time, it's personal.

The movie is opening today in two formats: 3-D in 650 IMAX theaters, 2-D on another 2,500 screens. IMAX is the way the movie was conceived, and the way to see it. Not only because stuff is hurled out at you, but because being surrounded by the huge screen focuses your attention on the story.

Sorry, but those special glasses are mandatory. Back in the ?50s, when Hollywood made a couple dozen 3-D movies, skeptics said that kids would never go for the cellophane and cardboard polarized glasses (one eye with a red filter, one with a green), because they knew that bullies laid the "four eyes" taunt on the visually impaired. Glasses over your glasses would make you "six eyes." The 3-D fad died out in a few years, but it took ages for the technology to improve. As recently as 2005, those same cheesy specs were handed out at screenings of Robert Rodriguez's The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D. The glasses at 3-D attractions in theme parks were a little less ornery and more advanced, as were the ones used for Polar Express ― an apt title, by the way, considering the polarized glasses used.

Arriving at Beowulf is still like visiting the optometrist: the movie screen is an eye chart, with pictures instead of letters. But the glasses are kinda cool, like wrap-around Ray-Bans ― larger, because the IMAX screen fills most of your field of vision, and less distracting than the old kind. Just don't tilt your head; suddenly everything gets blurry.

That might be a blessing in the early scenes, which have as much peeing and belching as a PG-13 rating will allow, and where the strangely Shrekish-looking Hrothgar staggers about drunkenly in a toga that is ever in danger of slipping off his mammoth body. It also takes a while to grow accustomed to the faces of Hrothgar, his wife Wealthow (Robin Wright Penn) and the oily counselor Unferth (John Malkovich). The faces have lines and creases, but they don't look lived in. This quibble subsides when Beowulf appears. The political drama of the palace is instantly amped up to mythical stature, and we can start appreciating the film for what is is: a live-action cartoon.

But with pathos, as much for monster as for man. Grendel is a horror, a plague, to Hrothgar's kingdom, but he seems plaintive, lonely, in his cave. He complains to his mother in some Scandivanian tongue, as if Gollum had shown up in a Bergman film. Up close he has the physiognomy of Rondo Hatton, the actor whose acromegalic face got him roles as villains in ?40s mysteries and horror films. Grendel too seems typecast for villainy, but maybe the humans just don't understand how close he is to them. Why, they might be kin.

Similarly, Beowulf is a flawed hero. His bravery and resourcefulness in battle are unquestioned, but he's a bit too comfortable as his own legend-maker. In an attack by the Frisians, he humiliates one warrior but doesn't kill him; "Give him a gold piece and send him home. He has a story to tell." Before confronting Grendel, he strips himself naked. (Battling in the buff is a major motif this year, in 300 and Eastern Promises.) As Beowulf leaps from one end of the Hall to the other, the movie treats you to more cutesy-poo hide-the-penis shots than in Bart's skateboard ride in The Simpsons Movie.

His ego also gives him a weakness for the ladies. Once he becomes king, he marries Hrothgar's widow but keeps a younger blond (Alison Lohman) on the side. And in his showdown with Grendma, he's simply out of his shallows. She appears to him drenched in gold, with high-heeled feet and nipples pert enough to hang a horseshoe on. When her hand touches Beowulf's sword, it turns to water, even as his resolve melts away at her caress. Ulysses may have resisted the sirens, but Beowulf's self-regard leads him to think he can bed Grendma and then best her. All of which leads to the illuminating observation that even a hero of legend is first and always a man.

The kids aren't likely to parse the fine points of the script's psychology. They and their parents will be wowed by the battle scenes, a nifty sea-monster montage and Beowulf's climactic dogfight with a dragon. No question you lose a little character nuance in "character capture"; they don't look quite real. But the effects scenes look realer, more integrated into the visual fabric, because they meet the traced-over live-action elements halfway. It all suggests that this kind of a moviemaking is more than a stunt. By imagining the distant past so vividly, Zemeckis and his team prove that character capture has a future. The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D
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The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl

Promotional poster for The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Produced by Elizabeth Avellan
Written by Racer Rodriguez,
Robert Rodriguez
Starring Taylor Lautner,
Taylor Dooley,
Cayden Boyd,
George Lopez
Distributed by - USA -
Dimension Films
- non-USA -
Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) 10 June 2005
Running time 93 mins
Language English
Budget $35,000,000+
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile
The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl is a 2005 family film by Robert Rodriguez, the writer, producer and director of Spy Kids. The film uses the same anaglyph 3D technology used in Spy Kids 3D: Game Over. The film stars Cayden Boyd, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Dooley, and George Lopez. Many of the concepts and much of the story was conceived by Rodriguez' children, most notably-seven-year-old Racer Rodriguez.

The film tells the story of an imaginative boy named Max who is bullied at school and whose parents are often quarreling. He creates two imaginary superhero friends, Sharkboy and Lavagirl, who turn out to be "real" and drag their creator along for a thrilling adventure to the Planet Drool to battle a terrible threat. But Max faces many difficulties as he gets to know them and the fantastic world they inhabit. Much of the film deals with the conflict between fantasy (the dreamworld) and reality.

The film performed modestly at the box office. It won little praise from critics. The colorful, fantastic and sometimes nonsensical world presented in the film was aimed at children and did not appeal to a wide adult audience.

1 Plot Synopsis
2 Cast
3 Reception
4 Soundtrack
4.1 Track listing
5 Trivia
6 External links

[edit] Plot Synopsis
A boy called simply Max (Cayden Boyd), living in Texas, is lonely and dissatisfied with his dull, seemingly meaningless daily life. His parents do not help, though they wish to, because their minds are precluded by their own disagreements. He has no friends at school or anywhere; therefore he resorts to his vivid imagination to create some. His efforts result in an amazing dreamworld called "Planet Drool", where endless fun and brilliant dreaming are the norm.

Planet Drool's status quo is maintained by the computer-like Mr. Electric (George Lopez), who is a version or analogue of Max's schoolteacher, Mr. Electricidad. The Planet's people are threatened by the obscuring Darkness and defended by two young warriors, Sharkboy (Taylor Lautner) and Lavagirl (Taylor Dooley).

Sharkboy is the son and apprentice of a marine biologist who studied and even befriended great white sharks. He was separated from his father during a storm at sea, later to become the protege of an anthropomorphic shark nicknamed Kraken. From this shark, he learned to survive by "moving... always forward, never back". This training has created a sharp impatience and belligerence, as well as great strength and speed, in Sharkboy. It also gave him gills, fins, and shark teeth.

Lavagirl's origins are not known, even by her; in the early stages of the story, she has almost no knowledge and very little confidence of and in herself. The fact that she is made primarily of animated lava frightens her, because in consequence thereof she radiates great heat, destroying most of what she touches. She fears above all else that she is a thing of destruction, destined only to wreak evil.

Max's parents (David Arquette and Kristin Davis), for their part, are given to conflict because of their seemingly incompatible priorities. The father is given to dreaming--like their son-- while the mother believes in maintaining a sense of real and unreal.

One day, Max presents a story he wrote about Sharkboy and Lavagirl as a summary of his activities during school holidays. No one is at all kind to him, except the teacher's daughter Marissa (Sasha Pieterse); most of the other students tease Max and create derisive renderings of his dream. After class, the teacher suggests that Max attempt to make friends in his real world, so as to distract himself from dreaming.

When Max is walking home, another student named Linus (Jacob Davich) steals a journal in which Max records his dreams, later to corrupt it by drawing his own contemptuous ideas among Max's more creative ones. On the following day, Max confronts Linus. Mr. Electricidad intervenes, demanding that both boys report to the school principal's office after class, accompanied by their respective parents, to talk the problem over. As he speaks to that effect, his words become arrogant and his tone becomes snide.

A few moments later, Max notices that Marissa is very cold. Pointing out that she sits beneath the air-cooling vent, he offers to change places. This catches the attention of Mr. Electricidad, who is very possessive of his daughter. Fearing that Max has designs upon her, he calls the boy forward to bid him otherwise. Max, realizing what his teacher is driving at, proclaims that his desires were not to curry favor with Marissa. Partly through his sentence, the wall of the schoolroom is broken down by a sudden force. Blown in by this wind are Sharkboy and Lavagirl in person.

Astonished, class and teacher allow the two dream characters to find Max, seize him, and carry him away to their spacecraft, in which they will take him to Planet Drool. Neither of them denies that they are Max's creations; on the contrary, Lavagirl says to Max, when speaking of her home planet, "You should know, Max; you made it up".

The three of them set off, landing with a crash on Planet Drool, which resembles a deserted fun-fair. All children supposed by Max are trapped in a never-ending roller-coaster ride, called Mount Neverest. They have been placed so by Mr. Electric, who has betrayed them all to an unknown person.

Sharkboy and Lavagirl stop the ride and release the children, followed by Max. The trio descend into Mr. Electric's lair, where they fight dramatically against a group of gigantic, animated, electric power cords. Eventually, Mr. Electric captures them all and sends them down the "Passage of Time" to the Dream Graveyard, where all useless or forsaken dreams lie derelict. As they ride the Passage of Time, it is revealed that Sharkboy desires to be King of the Ocean, while Lavagirl desires a positive use for her composition.

In the Dream Graveyard, Sharkboy and Lavagirl attempt to exploit Max by challenging him to dream. The assumption is that as his imagination created Planet Drool, it might affect the course of cause and effect, in that anything he dreams will become real. Max, uncertain of how to proceed, is saved from doing so by his discovery of Tobor. Tobor is one of Max's forsaken dreams; a sapient, android robot who functions as a consultant. Waking Tobor, Max and his friends discover that if Max dreams up anything in the Graveyard, the Darkness summoned by Mr. Electric will prevent his dreams into nightmares. A safe place-- perhaps the only safe place-- is the Land of Milk and Cookies. To find it, the three must catch, steer, and ride the Train of Thought.

Using Tobor's eyes and mouth-- the only mobile parts of his body-- as a means of flight, they are carried to the Train of Thought and set to assume control of it. Tobor, having been believed in, is saved from being a "useless dream" and is therefore now free.

Keeping the Train of Thought on track is beyond the knowledge of Max and his friends; the Train wrecks, luckily in the very dreamland they sought. In the land of Milk and Cookies, the trio settle down with the intent of having Max dream them to victory.

Meanwhile, Mr. Electric has received orders to pursue them. Accompanied by his seeker Plughounds, he sets off accordingly.

Max's efforts to dream are tenuous at first; Lavagirl and Sharkboy take it upon themselves to sing him a lullaby. Of them, Sharkboy is the more successful, due to his graphic sense of poetry and his superior singing voice. Max's dreaming session is interrupted when Mr. Electric and his Plughounds discover the heroes. A fight results, wherein Sharkboy and Lavagirl hold their own initially but are eventually overpowered. Max, with Lavagirl's urging, imagines a means by which to escape, which takes the form of a "banana split boat"; an arrangement of ice-cream and fruit that floats on water.

In this uncommon craft, the heroes escape via the Stream of Consciousness. Once away from their enemies, they analyze the content of Max's dreams. One of the most significant images is that of the Crystal Heart, a signature amulet worn by the Ice Princess (who lavagirl is instantly suspicious of, as she puts it "I'm fire, she's ice. We must be enemies").

According to Sharkboy, this Crystal Heart can freeze anything, even time. If this feat could be enacted, the trio might secure the dream journal and use it to put a stop to Planet Drool's chaos.

In order to find the Crystal Heart, they must cross a long, narrow bridge. Because this bridge is made of ice, Lavagirl cannot walk on it without melting it beneath her feet. Desperately, her friends advise her to sleepwalk across. This method almost succeeds, but their efforts are thwarted by Mr. Electric, who has come ahead of them.

Mr. Electric takes the three prisoner and presents them to his new master, who resides in a thinking-centre called the Dream Lair. This master styles himself Minus, ruler of Planet Drool; he is actually Linus, Max's fellow-student, empowered by his reading of Max's book of dreams. Desiring to torment Max, "Minus" plans to destroy Planet Drool dream by dream. He locks the three in a hanging cage to watch.

The strengths of Sharkboy and Lavagirl have weakened; they can neither savage nor melt the cage's bars. Max considers himself powerless. As they sit, a flock of tiny dream-creatures called Lalas drift into the cage, singing. Although their song soothes Lavagirl, it irritates Sharkboy, who has been trained to listen for high frequencies. Urged by Lavagirl, the Lalas sing louder and at higher frequencies, provoking Sharkboy to attack the object in nearest proximity to him-- the cage itself. With hands and teeth, he literally tears it apart.

Having escaped, the trio steal the dream journal from Minus. Max begins reading from it, generating such results as a "lava bike"; a motorcycle of Lavagirl's very own (though it is not mentioned again). This excites the fiery dream, who seizes the journal, intending to read it. At once, the journal is burned to ashes.

Lavagirl, shattered, laments fervently her own tendency toward destruction. She passionately questions Max as to why he made her of lava, as well as why he made her to be Sharkboy's partner. They are nothing alike, says she her words echoing the phrases used by Max's mother when Max queries their impending divorce. Max has no answer for Lavagirl; Sharkboy's own actions, on the other hand, suggest that they are a team for to complement one another(also, toward the end of the movie, it is shown that Sharkboy has feelings for Lavagirl, when he tries to put his arm around her, and when she kisses him).

Abruptly it occurs to Max that they still may use the Crystal Heart. To that end, they return to the Ice Castle. There, they attempt to steal the Heart, only to be captured and taken before its master, Lavagirl being accidentally frozen in the process. Max, prompted by Sharkboy, bargains with the Ice Princess (who more than slightly resembles his fellow-student Marissa). She agrees to lend him the Heart, on conditions imposed by her father the Ice Guardian. Under the imposed conditions, Max must hold the Crystal Heart until death parts them.

Sharkboy and Max skate across the frozen Sea of Confusion, pushing the equally frozen Lavagirl before them like a wheelbarrow. Their attempt to use the Crystal Heart fails just as the Darkness descends on them. Lavagirl breaks free of the ice and exclaims exasperatedly that only the Ice Princess may use the Crystal Heart.

Mr. Electric, who has followed them again, challenges Sharkboy by revealing dead fish on an electrified ocean. Sharkboy advances, but is rendered insentient by electric eels. He sinks.

Spurning Max's warnings, Lavagirl rescues Sharkboy. But Max's fears are justified; Lavagirl faints, and seems to die. Max is alone.

As he sits, wondering what to do, Tobor's face appears like a helpful djinn. He asks Max what he thinks to do.

"Dream a better dream," replies Max. Tobor is interested and desires further explanation. Max explains to the effect that he had originally dreamed with the sole intent of escaping his real world, when his real world needed him to become a better place. "Selfish dreams", he says, "shouldn't come true".

Tobor compliments Max, calling him a "very good dreamer". Max asks again what to do; Tobor replies in his own words, "Dream a better dream. An unselfish dream".

Tobor floats away into the darkened sky. Sharkboy wakens abruptly, to see Lavagirl in a stupor beside him. As both boys bend over their fallen friend, a volcano erupts in the distance. Sharkboy takes Lavagirl's prone body and runs toward the crater, intending to cast her into it.

While Sharkboy is hastening to his task, Max begins imagining what Lavagirl truly is. She is not, he says, "destruction, or a simple flame." She is, instead, light. Revived by the heat of the volcano, Lavagirl hears Max's naming of her and turns it to her advantage. In a brilliant display of power, she burns away Mr. Electric's Darkness.

Max, seeing the power of his dreams, imagines himself to stand beside Sharkboy. Within seconds, there he is. In quick succession, Max thaws the Sea of Confusion, grants Sharkboy command over the Ocean and its denizens, and hastens to the Dream Lair to vanquish Minus. There, he and Minus face one another in a contest of dreams. "May the best dream win!" proclaims Minus.

Sharkboy, aided by several mako sharks, pins Mr. Electric down.

Max and Minus compete for a short while, before Max realizes why they are fighting. At some time in the past, someone broke Linus' own dreams; seeking to rid himself of the pain, Linus has been seeking to destroy everything that reminds him of what he has lost.

Now, Max offers Linus the hand of a friend, with the promise that it is possible to create a better dream. Linus accepts.

On returning to the Dream Lair, Max and Linus are greeted by Lavagirl, who is flushed and elated with her discovery that she is a light-- a positive energy, a source of hope and life. Sharkboy, too, is satisfied with his new role as King of the Ocean.

Mr. Electric, however, has so much enjoyed being wicked that he is not willing to resume his former duties. When given the chance to do so, he flies toward Earth, intending to find Max there and kill him. Max, in turn, follows Mr. Electric to Earth (in the same sort of way Dorothy returns to Kansas with blinking instead of clicking); he arrives seconds ahead.

Mr. Electric's arrival has stirred the local weather into an F5 tornado, which threatens to raze the school. He appears spectacularly from this vortex, shouting humourously "Charge!"

Seeing his own face and hearing his own voice coming from what he terms "a big round bad guy", Mr. Electricidad is horrified by the thought that this is the impression he has made on his student's imagination as he says that he's not a bad guy.

Max's parents, still arguing, are on their way to retrieve their son. The wind proves too strong and threatens to separate them. The father holds a sapling tree with one hand and his wife with the other, but she cannot hold on for long. He begs her not to leave him; she is, he says, his best friend. Dominating his efforts, the tornado sweeps her away. She is rescued by Lavagirl. Moments later, the father is caught in the wind as well; he is rescued by Sharkboy.

In the classroom, Mr. Electricidad asks his students to offer ideas by which they may defeat Mr. Electric. Linus immediately offers to engage the invader in combat. He is shocked with a bolt of lightning, which does not terribly injure him though it burns the "real" dream journal to ashes. Max tosses it aside, saying that there are "plenty more dreams where those came from".

Linus has another idea; they might freeze Mr. Electric's circuits. Max still has the Crystal Heart in his pocket; he gives it to Marissa and sends her into the breach. Marissa, with supreme confidence, advances into Mr. Electric's storm and destroys him. Caught by the power of the Crystal Heart, Mr. Electric transforms into unseasonal snow.

Later, conditions have improved all around. Linus has resumed creating positive dreams; Marissa now sits in a warm place; Mr. Electricidad is no longer possessive of her and has learned a lesson from Max due to the whole situation. Sharkboy is in search of his father, but seeks also to protect aquatic life. Lavagirl has assumed royalty of oceanic volcanoes-- "a source of life," as Max describes them, "for all living creatures." Max, for his own part, has resumed building Tobor. At the end of the film, Tobor's eyes light up and he asks "Yes?"

[edit] Cast


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