Beowulf & Grendel (2005)

4.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 6/10

Some nice settings

Poor adaptation of the story, so-so cast

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Beowulf & Grendel

Studio:  Truly Indie

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Drama

Release Date(s):  September 14, 2005 (Toronto International Film Festival)

MPAA Rating:  R


That classic childhood rite of passage of cutting off your dad’s head to remember him by…

Grendel (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson) has grown up hating King Hrothgar (Stellan Skarsgård) and dogging Hrothgar and his men.  As Grendel continues to plague Hrothgar, the great warrior Beowulf (Gerard Butler) responds to the call for help…but is quick to discover that Grendel’s madness might have meaning.  When a woman named Selma (Sarah Polley) draws into question the motives behind Grendel’s attack, Beowulf uncovers that the sins of Hrothgar might have returned to haunt him.

Directed by Sturla Gunnarsson, Beowulf & Grendel is an adaptation of the classic epic poem Beowulf.  The movie was a joint venture between Canada, England, and Iceland and released to festivals.  The movie received mostly average reviews.


I’m not angry…I’m yawning from boredom

Some people hated reading Beowulf in school, but I actually enjoyed it.  I liked mythology, and I liked monster and it was a weird blending of both.  The challenge with Beowulf is to make a cohesive story from it…something that the animated film Beowulf made an attempt at in 2007.  Beowulf & Grendel makes a similar attempt but just doesn’t quite make it over the hump.

The script is quite bad for the film and the film just lumbers.  Bad fantasy dialogue combined with a slow moving plot doesn’t help the product.  The film starts to raise interesting questions about the influx of Christianity versus Norse beliefs, but it doesn’t go far enough…and the weird troll/Neanderthal storyline as Grendel as a different strain of human just wasn’t developed…the movie should have picked a theme and worked around it.

The cast also struggles through the movie.  Gerard Bulter doesn’t really have much energy as needed for Beowulf and likewise, Stellan Skarsgård seems underused as Hrothgard.  Sarah Polley feels completely out of place and out of touch with her character  and the whole dynamic between all the characters (and even the monsters) just feels odd.


Probably should have just left out Grendel’s fish mom thing

The one thing that the movie does have going for it is some great settings.  I think the Grendel creature is pretty weak and the decision to show him so much during the day also is a mistake because the costume and make-up are rather goofy.  The odd sea monster woman mother who appears at the end of the film is kind of creepy, but the character is negated by the script in which she feels rather thrown in (they should have just left her out like the dragon).

Beowulf & Grendel is a bit of a disappointment, especially since I kind of liked parts of the animated Beowulf.  I still think the story is interesting and has a lot of dimension to it, but the challenge of anyone who adapts it is to remain faithful while working out something compelling…Beowulf & Grendel fails on that front.

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Related Links:

Beowulf (2007)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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