Monday, May 22, 2006

Beowulf and Grendel (2005)

Think Beowulf, think epic superhero. Not only that, but he's popular with the ladies!

Fantasy Action Adventure Drama

Starring: Gerard Butler (Dracula 2000; Timeline) , Stellan Skarsgard (Exorcist: The Beginning; Dogville)

Directed By: Sturla Gunnarsson (Rare Bird; "Da Vinci's Inquest")

Overview: When Beowulf visits his old friend the king, he is asked to help destroy the troll that is killing the men in the camp. By the time Beowulf discovers there is a deeper game afoot, it is too late for him to decline the battle that he faces.

Acting: Weird. All the abovementioned actors have done a horror movie. Stellan is a great actor, and knowing that he was in this was one of the reasons I came to watch. The actor who played Grendel was awesome, and Butler, who played Beowulf, is equally amazing in his role (impressive given his lowbrow film career to date, see above), but Sarah was the only one without an accent, and it was very distracting. I've seen her in eight other films (all of which she was great in) and I just got the impression that she wasn't anywhere near trying in this one.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: Some people might describe the setting as breathtaking. I'd call it more overcast and bleak, but the mildly oppressive climate certainly played its part rather well. Though I would have preferred trolls that were a touch more inhuman, the style was effective. I'll add that the armour, outfits and braided beards, the ships, the fight scenes, all the visual aspects of the film were good, but there was just something missing to set it apart as something truly impressive.
Rating: 8

Script: Think of the fact that this was an epic poem that stood the test of time for almost a millennium. Why they didn't keep the poem untouched is beyond me, unless of course it was to appeal to the less art-house Canadians out there. We reach a nice little middle ground and find that the dialogue is the kind that is inspirational without remaining perfectly epic-poetic.
Rating: 7

Plot: The story was a bit slow. That was the consensus all around. For someone who created a tale about a troll with a twist, adding some nice bits of humanity and a fortune-telling witch, you'd wonder why the movie version was so disappointing. I saw this with a crowd, and that crowd all agree that the story was "einh".
Rating: 6

Mood:The mood was perfectly captured I'd say. We got just enough of the troll's intent and 'humanity' to understand what and why was going on while still knowing that Beowulf was being painted into a corner and forced into a situation that his morality had issue with. Add the fact that this was set in a rugged and dank environment and you have the kind of setting that could make almost any movie work.
Rating: 8

Stellan Skarsgard is the kind of actor you just gotta respect, also his beard kicks ass.

Overall Rating: 74% (Epic Is As Epic Does)

Aftertaste: As I left the theater the group of people I saw this with all said, "I really don't know." The strangers I overheard as I left also has the opinion that something was missing. I won't say that this movie was not a good time, but I will add that there was nothing memorable about it, which is too bad, because when you think of epic poems, they're good for a reason, and that reason is as epic as the tale itself. Why the screenplay writer and director didn't keep this in mind is beyond me. You might just have a better time reading it.