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

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

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.