Beowulf & Grendel (2005)

Director: Sturla Gunnarsson
Starring: Gerard Butler, Stellan Skarsgård, Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson, Sarah Polley, Eddie Marsan, Martin Delaney, Tony Curran, Rory McCann, Ronan Vibert
Music: Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson

This review is not for the recent 2007 CG animated version starring Ray Winstone, but the live action version starring Gerard Butler. The film features plenty of swordplay and hacking violence, but this film is not your standard Sword & Sorcery fare. Nor should it be. The epic Anglo-Saxon poem, Beowulf is the oldest living piece of literature in the English language. As such, the story should be treated with a certain amount of respect and not turned into a Conan The Barbarian movie.

In the film, King of the Danes Hrothgar (Stellan Skarsgård) has one great big problem. Every night a giant troll, named Grendell (Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson) attacks his village. He is ruthless in his attacks but he only kills the men. He never touches the women or children.

Beowulf (Gerard Butler) is a heroic warrior from Geatland, and he is friends with Hrothgar. When Beowulf hears of Hrothgar’s problems, he and a band of stout-hearted warriors set sail from Geatland to Daneland to help out King Hrothgar, and to rid the land once and for all of the giant marauding troll, Grendel. Beowulf and his men are cocky and confident that they can quickly put an end to Grendel’s reign of terror, but as in all these stories, the task isn’t as easy as it first seemed.

This film plays like a moody character piece. The real star of the movie is not Butler, Skarsgård, Sigurosson or Polley, but the brutal location cinematography. The harsh volcanic Icelandic landscapes are unforgiving. On top of the hostile terrain there is the foreboding weather. Short of a snow bound story (and even then some fall short), visually this is one of the coldest films I have seen.

Beowulf & Grendel is a very good, rich and rewarding film, but those after a big sprawling Sword & Sorcery epic will be disappointed. This isn’t that kind of film.

No Comments Posted in Film
Tagged ,

Leave a Reply

Using Gravatars in the comments - get your own and be recognized!

XHTML: These are some of the tags you can use: <a href=""> <b> <blockquote> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>