Beowulf & Grendel

"OK"

Beowulf & Grendel Review


Everyone loves a badass. A shit kicker. A name taker. By all accounts the very first badass in Western culture was Beowulf -- a bearded berserker as much at home wrestling with sea serpents as he was brawling with towering giants. He met his match in the form of Grendel, a monster that ravaged the countryside and split men limb from limb. Their clash echoes down to us as the archetypal battle in its most primal form: Man versus monster. Order versus chaos. Good versus evil.

The new film Beowulf & Grendel is an attempt to demythologize the battle between these two mythic beings. Here Beowulf (Gerard Butler) is no badass; he's entirely human and very flawed. He's not the unstoppable warrior from the legends but a somewhat skilled and at times very lucky soldier. And Grendel is not the misshapen monster but a lonely Neanderthal with a grudge against mankind. As played by Ingvar Sigurdsson, he's sympathetic (and very hairy) lout. When he's not shouting with rage into the inexplicable heavens, he's bowling with skulls. The title is a dead give away that this isn't going to be your granddad's Beowulf story. The fact that it's "and" and not "versus" means that Beowulf & Grendel has an agenda, and in tune with contemporary mores this agenda involves demonstrating how both Beowulf and Grendel are outsiders. Beowulf isn't really that good and Grendel's just misunderstood. (This is all explained, naturally, by a sexy but socially conscious witch, Selma, herself an outcast, played by the incredibly miscast Sarah Polley (Go).)

Beowulf & Grendel fails because the real battle in the film isn't between the two title titans, it's between free-thinkers and the closed minded. It's all about deconstructing the myth of the hero rather than championing the story. This hobbles everything and the film essentially becomes a simple morality tale -- a fable for the upwardly mobile preschooler set. Here, Beowulf's clashes with Grendel seem almost inconsequential. They're playground tussles because neither side is supposed to win. It's illogical. And the film reaches its absurdist nadir when the proto-feminist Selma is called in to translate Grendel's threats (in a deadpan, too-hip-for-all-y'all American accent) for Beowulf. And what is the big brute saying? According to Selma, You (insert something along the lines of capitalist, misogynist pig) wouldn't understand.

What works in this film is the cinematography. The Icelandic landscapes are breathtaking. Shot in a scope that makes even the smallest television feel like an IMAX screen, the film captures a world that no computer geek at ILM could ever generate -- massive whitecaps crashing against soaring black pillars of rock, enormous icebergs of deep blue and green, endless vistas of rolling hills studded with perilous crags. I recommend watching the film on mute and just taking in the scenery while you play cards or fold laundry.

It's a shame that Beowulf & Grendel is so ridiculous. It could have been a powerful picture. It certainly has the right look and tone. But instead it joins countless other films on the slagheap of needlessly tampered-with stories.



Beowulf & Grendel

Facts and Figures

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 9th March 2006

Box Office Worldwide: $92.1 thousand

Distributed by: Union Station Media

Production compaines: The Film Works, Icelandic Film Corporation, Union Station Media, Movision, Endgame Entertainment, Téléfilm Canada, Spice Factory

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 17

IMDB: 5.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Sturla Gunnarsson

Producer: Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, Alex Marshall, James Simpson

Starring: Hringur Ingvarsson as Young Grendel, as Grendels Father, as Hrothgar, Gunnar Eyjólfsson as Aeschere, as Hondscioh, as Beowulf, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson as Grendel, Philip Whitchurch as Fisherman, as Thorkel, as Breca, Martin Delaney as Thorfinn, as Unferth, Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir as Wealtheow, as Selma, as Father Brendan, Gísli Örn Garðarsson as Erik

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.