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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.04%
Worth A Look: 13.04%
Pretty Bad34.78%
Total Crap: 4.35%

2 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Beowulf & Grendel
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by Scott Weinberg

"Half silly, half smart, and surprisingly watchable."
3 stars

Sturla Gunnarsson's "Beowulf & Grendel" asks a fairly interesting question: What if the ferocious beastie from the ancient poem was not a mindless brute or animalistic killing machine -- but instead was a big, hairy, terribly misunderstood giant who was just really pissed off at the guys who killed his father?

That's the question at the heart of this newest and most democratic look at the old-old-school epic adventure, and (barring a small handful of really slow spots) it makes for a pretty diverting new movie. The cast is pretty strong, the look of the film is surprisingly effective, and the story moves along at a fairly appreciable clip ... for the most part, anyway.

Gerard Butler stars as legendary hero Beowulf, the man who shows up to help drunken King Hrothgar (Stellan Skarsgard) rid his countryside of a ravenous, murdering ... something. "Troll" is what the bloodthirsty Grendel is most commonly referred to, but as a strangely haunting prologue informs us, Grendel might just have a pretty good reason for his murderous ways.

Toss into the equation a saucy young witch, a babbling priest, and some truly stunning Icelandic cinematography, and you've got a surprisingly watchable flick on your hands -- even if a few of the performances skirt dangerously close to Uwe Boll territory. (Sarah Polley's witch character almost comes off as parody, and there's a weird amount of anachronistic profanity laced throughout the movie.)

But it's pretty clear that this particular version of Beowulf & Grendel was crafted with a half-decent budget and a lot of good intentions. It's not a dry and chat-heavy period piece, and it's not a low-budget hack-'em-up action-fest. More like a little from both columns, which means that if you normally dig this sort of olde-school adventure tale, you'll probably find enough to enjoy here. Purists, however, should stay far away, as Gunnarsson takes more than a few liberties with the source material.

I expected the flick to be either "low-budget silly" or "film festival stuffy," and was surprised to realize it was actually a fairly compelling mixture of both. If you're looking for a film that "faithfully" tells the Beowulf tale, you should probably look elsewhere, but if you're game for a strange and beautiful-looking new version of the story, you can safely give this one a rental.

(© Review reprinted from DVDTalk, with permission from the author (me) and the DVDT management. For the full DVD specs on this particular movie, please visit and get friendly with the search bar.)

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originally posted: 09/07/06 03:45:55
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2005 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2006 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Fantastic Fest For more in the 2006 Fantastic Fest series, click here.

User Comments

2/09/14 Charles Tatum Very weird adaptation; can't decide if it's a joke or not 3 stars
6/26/10 Beowulf The movie lacked some action in there.It sucks!! 2 stars
5/03/09 feolindo Visually stunning. Modern obscenities a distraction. Polley miscast. Enjoyable overall. 4 stars
10/21/07 Jack Christiansen A few inconsistencies but perfectly watch-able Very Refreshing!! 4 stars
11/17/06 balrog If you like the usual hollywood drivel, don't watch this film. 4 stars
10/07/06 CRAP This movie was a piece of crap. Nothing good at all 1 stars
9/28/06 ES The Troll should have been CGI, the accents bogged down the dialogue and it was too slow! 2 stars
9/13/06 bettapugnax Something refreshing 5 stars
6/12/06 Blackbrain Inconstant language and accents, dull cinematography. Nothing new. 3 stars
12/05/05 Teri S I saw this movie at the VIFF, it was well worth the five hour drive to get there.. 5 stars
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  16-Jun-2006 (R)
  DVD: 26-Sep-2006

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