BEOWULF & GRENDEL
THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!
The Norse hero Beowulf (Gerard Butler, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, 2004) is called upon to aid King Hrothgar (Stellan Skarsgard, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST), Lord of the Danes, in his bloody battle against a massive troll named Grendel (Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson, K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER). But once within King Hrothgar’s realm, Beowulf discovers much more than just a deadly troll.
Grendel kills only the strong men, and is selective even then, for his wrath is one of vengeance. King Hrothgar and his kin killed Grendel’s father years ago, and now the troll is bent on revenge. Beowulf is initially unaware of Grendel’s grudge, but our "hero" warrior soon learns of it via the beautiful but dangerous witch, Selma (Sarah Polley, DON’T COME KNOCKING).
That Beowulf is battling a hero status he doesn’t feel deserving of is also observed throughout the film. The additional battles of the many gods now in danger of falling to "the one God" (Christianity) is also touched on, for King Hrothgar and his clan feel that the many gods have abandoned them and perhaps this new God will help protect them.
That Grendel is not just a monster but a flesh and blood being is quickly sensed as we watch his father killed for no particular reason, and experience the anguish of his isolation from the world (he plays a type of bowling game with skulls for entertainment). Even his need to procreate is vividly portrayed as he pays a nighttime visit to Selma’s home.
So when the end comes for Grendel, it is surprising, touching, bloody, and brutal. That Beowulf is forced to use his deadly warrior skills only adds to the terribleness of the deed that needed to be done.
Filmed entirely in Iceland — complete with stubby Icelandic horses — the film’s panoramic views of the stunningly beautiful countryside contributes to the rounding out of the story. Lengthy waterfalls, green hillocks, and bizarre stone formations are all incorporated through the camera lens, giving the entire production an otherworldly feel.
Any faults are directed at the initial rushing of the story during the first 30 minutes, and the deep brogues by some actors/actresses that make it tough, at times, to understand what is being said.
But all-in-all the story is pulled off exceptionally well.