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Beowulf & Grendel
DVD disk
10.10.2006 By: Quigles
Beowulf & Grendel order
Director:
Sturla Gunnarsson

Actors:
Gerard Butler
Stellan Skarsgård
Sarah Polley

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Legendary medieval warrior Beowulf fights back against Grendel, a great and murderous troll.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
While easily one of the most beautiful films in recent memory, poor story structure and laughable dialogue drag the would-be-impressive production way down. Worse yet, boredom sinks in consistently throughout the film's run time, which is strange considering we're dealing with trolls, witches, evil water creatures, and more. And even though there are loads of action sequences, almost every one of them has this sort of a dry, dead feel to it. In some instances that type of style works well for the film, but when it comes time to deliver the goods on a more "spectacular" scale, the payoff is decidedly weak. Grendel (the monster) is especially lame, looking more like a sort of large, deformed ape-man who grunts a lot and has bad make-up (think Uwe Boll, except bigger and hairier). I will admit though, it was an interesting idea to add some humanity to the beastly character, as opposed to just making him a mindless killing machine like in the poem (oh, but don't worry, the killings might not be mindless, but there are a lot of them).

While many of the performances are solid enough, the only painfully bad one is delivered by Sarah Polley, who's terribly miscast here (and also has one of the worst fake accents I've ever heard). Every time her character was on-screen, I could sense the production value dropping. The same goes for every time the F-word was spoken, which just felt incredibly out of place and stupid. Lucky for us, the gorgeous cinematography (which perfectly captures the Icelandic scenery) helps cancel out some of the more crap-tacular aspects of the film. In the end, the bad definitely outweighs the good, but not enough that the movie deserves to be passed by completely.
THE EXTRAS
For a straight-to-DVD release, this film's got a surprising amount of special features to check out. Unfortunately, they don't go into detail as much as they should, which in turn makes the obvious effort put into the DVD somewhat wasted.

Audio Commentary (with director Sturla Gunnarsson, writer Andrew Berzins, assistant director Wendy Ord, and costume designer Debra Hanson): A strong and worthwhile commentary that goes into detail about how hard it was to film in Iceland, what it was like transferring the classic poem to film, and other such topics. Interesting stuff.

Featurette: Wrath of Gods (9:59): This isn't really a stand-along featurette, but rather a collection of excerpts from a feature-length documentary concerning the making of the film. Obviously, having the whole documentary would've been preferred, but what's here is good enough. Check it out.

Interviews (26:13): Included here are somewhat interesting chats with producer Paul Stephens, actor Gerard Butler, director Sturla Gunnarsson, actor Stellan Skarsgård, and writer Andrew Rai Berzins.

Also included are 8 Deleted Scenes (8:44), a Storyboard Comparison (2:41), a very small collection of Costumes & Sketches photos, and a bunch of Previews.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If you're looking for a small-scale medieval epic featuring mythological creatures, non-stop battles, and absolutely stunning visuals, then this might be the flick for you. Just be sure you can stomach the poor dialogue, B-movie direction, and occasional drop-dead boring sequence, and you'll be set.
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