RiverRun Reviews

Category: Beowulf & Grendel Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: April 18, 2007 | Publication: Winston-Salem Journal | Author: Mary M. Dalton
Publication/Article Link:http://www.journalnow.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=WSJ%2FMGArticle%2FWSJ_RelishArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173350802801&path=!entertainment!general!&s=1037645508970

Beowulf & Grendel (3 stars)

Location, location, location. This 2005 feature, a companion screening to the documentary Wrath of Gods about the troubled production of Beowulf & Grendel, is distinguished by the remote and ruggedly beautiful settings in Iceland chosen as a backdrop for this retelling of a classic tale. Director Sturla Gunnarsson clearly overcame the odds to complete this film and seeing both Beowulf & Grendel and Wrath of Gods will enhance the viewing of each. (See review of Wrath of Gods, below).

Before he played King Leonidas in 300, Gerard Butler was the mighty Norse warrior Beowulf. He sets out with a troop of soldiers to aid the Lord of the Danes in his battle against a treacherous monster, only to find that his enemy, Grendel, is not a troll but instead a wronged man. Even if you aren't keen on ritualistic decapitations and gore galore, the locations in glorious 35mm might be enough to entice you to this screening.

Wrath of Gods (3 stars)

If you harbor any illusions that filmmaking is a glamorous enterprise, director Jon Einarsson Gustafsson will strip them away in this feature documentary about a troubled production on location in Iceland. Cast and crew joke on camera in this unorthodox "behind the scenes" doc that Canadian director Sturla Gunnarsson's production of Beowulf & Grendel is cursed by Norse gods. Or, are they joking?

At first the pace of Wrath of Gods is a bit slow, but as soon as Beowulf & Grendel goes into production, the film documenting it inspires the same morbid curiosity among viewers that causes rubberneckers to gawk at accidents on the side of the road.