comments may contain spoilers, which is kind of an ironic warning, now that I think
about it ***
:: The Vikings of Bjornstad ::|
||Screenshot from: Grendel an NBC Universal Production
Grendel is another version of Beowulf, the
thousand-year-old Anglo-Saxon epic poem. The SyFy (formerly SciFi) channel has a growing
catalog of inoffensive and uninteresting movies, and the previews
of this one promised an inauthentic low-budget mini-epic. I
expected watching a bit of it then finding something better to spend my
time with, but this one refused to
let me switch channels. It was staggeringly, overwhelmingly, bad. I
watched in fascination and horror at the train wreck you couldn't tear
your eyes away from. I reached for a notepad and managed to capture part
of what I was seeing. Unbelievable.
- Just to get it over with,
Beowulf's warriors wore horned helmets. Trivial issue compared to what
came after. It also appears that the helmets were in a bin and handed to
whichever actor wandered by next. Fit, appearance and function were
- Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next
Generation) had obviously been
blackmailed into doing the movie by the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and
Bailey circus. She managed to avoid a red rubber nose, but the clowns
had already done the rest of her makeup.
- Ben Cross pretended
not to be embarrassed as the king. His character, Hrothgar, must have
become king of the Danes only minutes before the film opened and hadn't
had a chance to get the crown resized to fit him yet.
facilitate the actors' return to their day jobs waiting tables, none
were required to change their hairstyles at all. The variety of hair
included cornrows, sideburns, buzz cuts and a mullet and at least served
to distract from the dialog. To prove it was a multi-national cast, all
were encouraged to retain whatever accent they chose.
- As is
typical with this type of movie (at least since Mad Max), leather armor
was a requirement. In this case it was odd-shaped, ill-fitting and
- The female love interest, Ingrid, played by Alexis
Peters, followed a long-standing tradition of hotties who should be
watched with the volume turned completely down.
- The unintended
focus of the movie was a repeating, compound crossbow with exploding
bolts. It never needed to be loaded and even had a recoil when fired. It
managed to shred the laws of physics, the integrity of the original
legend, historical fact and plot suspense all by itself. Check out
Hrothgar's palace, Heorot, rather than being a Norse long hall,
apparently was designed and constructed by artisans who sank with
- Beowulf arrived at the Danes' homeland in a
two-masted stern-castled ship that originally was part of a set, the
other two being the Santa Maria and the Pinta.
- Prince Unferth
observed Beowulf's ship's approach using a telescope. Before you could
recover from that astoundingly anachronistic innovation for the 6th
century, you got to see the ship from
his point of view. Judging from the angle, the prince was in an aircraft
of some sort.
- Fun fact 1: In Bulgaria, where Grendel
was filmed, fire (as from a
fireplace) creates light without heat. This explains why you could see
the actors' breath whether indoors or out.
- Fun fact 2: Dark Age
dancing in Denmark looks like slow dances I went to in the 8th grade.
- Fun fact 3: You, too, can make a catapult with a timed-release
air-burst explosive. But, don't expect it to actually harm anything.
Incidentally, Beowulf was apparently a veteran of World War II, yelling
"Incoming!" to shred any remaining suspension of disbelief.
Grendel was so upset and always in a snit because as a completely CGI
creation he couldn't leave footprints. Even in snow.
mom ("Hag") was in a foul mood because she was a single mother and
junior hadn't inherited her wings. Recessive gene, I suppose. By the
way, we can now make an educated guess that Grendel's pop was probably
- Grendel and mom chose to randomly kill, fly away
with or drag away their prey based only on a close reading of the next
few pages of the script.
- Fun medical fact: Being slammed by a
mythical beast hard enough to be thrown fifty feet against stone causes
slight facial scratches that don't bleed much.
- The sword of
legend Beowulf used to dispatch the Hag was as long as he was tall and
would have contained enough steel to put a second deck on the Golden
Gate Bridge - if it had been made of steel. Luckily the wobbling dispelled any concerns over its
- Best line of the movie: Prince Unferth had just been
impaled by Hag and spit a quart of blood roughly six feet. Princess
Ingrid cradled him gently and said, "You're going to be okay, my
prince." So much for that job at the triage clinic.
I feel better