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Beowulf & Grendel

Beguiles, thanks largely to the sparse Icelandic landscape
By TOM MEEK  |  August 9, 2006
3.0 3.0 Stars

BEOWULF & GRENDEL: Syrupy and annoying.

Icelandic director Sturla Gunnarsson treats the Old English epic about a foreign warrior enlisted by a broken Dane king to rid the land of a scourge with both respect and irreverence. The result is at times unsettling, almost cheesy, and yet it beguiles, thanks largely to the sparse, handsome Icelandic vistas shot by Jan Kiesser and to the story’s themes of religious conflict (Christianity versus Nordic paganism) and intolerance. Stellan Skarsgård as the weary ruler who’s brought the wrath of unrelenting giant troll Grendel (Ingvar E. Sigurðsson) on his people and Gerard Butler as the title Geat are dead on, but the usually endearing Sarah Polley, speaking like a sullen philosophy student at a rave, is woefully miscast as the witch who beds both monster and hero.

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