A giant or troll (Spencer Wilding) & his young son (Hringur Ingvarsson) on the outskirts of Daneland are descended upon by Danes.
The father troll is slain, but the whiskery little boy-troll was spared by a strange pity that overcame his father's slayers.
The child takes his father's head & keeps it with him in the cavern where he grows up alone, nursing a grudge against the clan of Danes.
When grown, the vengeful troll Grendel (Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson) harries & slays Danes whenever he can, without slaking his wrath. A hero comes ashore in Geatland. It is Beowulf (Gerald Butler), who goes west from Geatland, intending to do battle with the troll that has slain two hundred sturdy Danes.
Grendel is beautiful & his rage is just; but Beowulf is likewise heroic. It is not good vs evil, but a ferocious conflict infused with rage & sadness. Nor is it void of humor. Troll pee smells something awful, so there's considerable disgust when Grendel pees on the door of the king's hall.
We get such side-characters as a fire & brimstone spewing monk who wants the pagan Danes to convert to Christianity.
We get mud & blood & bitter cold & beautiful stark landscapes. And we get something of a witch. Selma (Sarah Polly) can foretell deaths, so people keep their distance from her.
Unfortunately Polly's performance doesn't match up to the bulk of the cast. She will be the only one to openly mourn the inevitable fall of Grendel, but her acting fails to make it meaningful. Polly is usually quite good given a modern setting, but I suspect imagination failed her, & she wasn't fully inside this role.
Grendel bore the Geats no grudge so at first avoided Beowulf's men. But when they find his cave & destroy his father's skull, he comes for the Geats in the king's hall.
Beowulf watches Grendel cut off his own arm to escape capture, & is moved by the brave troll's heroism & his curiously pure heart.
This is not a creature that the Danes needed to have made their enemy, but they did so. When Grendel goes into the sea to die, Beowulf cannot be as glad of it as the Danes.
Who knows the early medieval Saxon story well knows that Grendel was by means the ultimate troll, & those who boast of victory with Grendel's arm nailed to a post are about to contend with Grendel's mother.
She arrives by night while Selma busies Beowulf elsewhere. The revenge of Grendel's mother is formidable, & when Beowulf sets out after her, there will be one last surprise in this amazing heroic fantasy -- a surprise both for Beowulf, & for ourselves, the audience.
This film version of the Beowulf & Grendel legend is a cross between the best samurai film you ever saw, & the best heroic fantasy novel you ever read. An absolutely stunning work of art that proves once & for all that sword & sorcery needn't be no more serious than a particularly childish video game.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl