Da'ud Bob's Movie Review
June 2017

So, having taking a look at one movie about the great Geat hero of the late Fifth Century, Beowulf, by reviewing 1999's Beowulf, it seemed only fair to take a look at that same story from the other side, from that of his opponent, the monster Grendel. I thought that it should be easy to do that, since sitting right there in the Netflix queue was a movie entitled Grendel. All of this just goes to show that not only can't you tell a book from its cover, you can't tell a movie from it's title. The opening narration started out, "This is the story of Beowulf," and then went on to make the story as much about a young man named Finn as it did about anything else. But it was too late by that time to change my mind, and so it is that this month Da'ud Bob reviews for you the 2007 made for TV SyFy movie Grendel, even though it's not really about Grendel.

Starring Chris Bruno as Beowulf, Marina ("Troi" of Star Trek: The Next Generation) Sirtis as mad Queen Wealhtheow, Michael J. Minor as Unferth, Chuck Hittinger as Finn, Alexis Kendra as Ingrid, Ben (Sarek in the 2009 Star Trek) Cross as King Hrothgar, Atanas Srebrev as Wulfgar, Harry Anichkin as King Higlack, Maxim Genchev as Olf, and a lot of CGI work as Grendel and Grendel's mother ("the Hag"), one synopsis of the movie began, "Viking warrior Beowulf ....", but that can't be right, since there were no Vikings in the Fifth Century. Another synopsis said, "King Higlack of the Gauths [that should be "Geats"] entrusts prince Finn and a fire ball weapon to his champion, slayer Beowulf. They lead twelve men on a mission to help king Hrothgar of the Danes, whose once glorious realm is terrorized by the undefeated monster Grendel. The task is made more difficult as Hrothgar kept gruesome secrets."

Good points: It's not as long a movie as I was afraid it was. (It turns out to be only 82 minutes long.) Aside from all of the anachronisms, poor costuming, awful fight choreography, and a lot of the details, the overall arc of the movie actually follows the original Old English poem in a loosely general fashion.

Bad points: The sword with the dragon claw quillons. Beowulf's ugly horned helm. Everybody's horned helms. The costumes in general. The oversized four-stringed crossbow. The exploding crossbow bolts. The square-rigged caravel they sailed on. The Roman buildings in Fifth Century Denmark. Unferth's leather gorget. Everyone's riveted leather armor. The lamellar armor. Unferth's metal cuirass. Finn's mullet haircut. The Nineteenth Century spyglass. Stirrups on the horse saddles. And as a nitpick: King Hrothgar's mead hall is shown as surrounded by high mountain peaks, a feature not found in the landscape of relatively flat Denmark.

Zero breasts. Two gallons of blood. Ten dead bodies, plus one giant snake body, one Grendel body, and one Grendel's mom body. Sword fu. Lightning fu. Axe fu. Oversized crossbow fu. Exploding crossbow bolt fu. Catapult fu. Big honkin' sword fu. Giant snake head rolls. Hag's head rolls. Arm rolls. Finn rolls. Unferth rolls. Beowulf rolls. Gratuitous horned helms. Gratuitous gut wrenching. Gratuitous giant snake. Gratuitous slow dancing. Gratuitous Imperial Stormtrooper syndrome. (Out of all the times they shoot the exploding crossbow bolts at Grendel, they only hit him once.) Gratuitous Nineteenth Century telescope/spyglass. Gratuitous love story (between Finn and Ingrid). Gratuitous love triangle (Finn, Ingrid, and Unferth). Academy Award nominations to Chris Bruno as Beowulf for "When a man meets his end, his story is all that he has," and to Chuck Hittinger as Finn for following that line up with, "And through his story, a man can live forever." An 86 on the Vomit Meter. 1 Stars. Da'ud Bob says "The title is false advertising; this is not the story of Grendel. Check it out!"

Upcoming movies and miniseries to watch for!

Now playing, but not for long. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. (Formerly titled: Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur) The young Arthur runs the back passages of Londonium with his crew, not knowing his royal lineage until he grabs Excalibur. Instantly confronted by the sword's influence, Arthur is forced to make up his mind. He joins the rebellion and a shadowy young woman named Guinevere, he must learn to understand the magic weapon, deal with his demons and unite the people to defeat the dictator Vortigern, the man who murdered his parents and stole his crown to become king. Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Katie McGrath, Eric Bana, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey.

The fact that they keep pushing back the release date does not bode well for this film. Just sayin'. (Update: I was right. See the review here in July.)

No official website, just a Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/KingArthurMovie/

May 29, 2017 Still Star-Crossed. Television mini-series (7 episodes) on ABC. A period drama that picks up where the famous story of Romeo and Juliet leaves off, charting the treachery, palace intrigue, and ill-fated romances of the Montagues and Capulets in the wake of the young lovers' tragic fate. Based on the book by Melinda Taub. Torrance Coombs, Ebonee Noel, Medalion Rahimi, Carl Chambers.


June 30, 2017 The Little Hours. A young servant fleeing from his master takes refuge at a convent full of emotionally unstable nuns in the Middle Ages. Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza. I don't expect to see this one in wide release, or for it to stay very long in the theaters where it does show.

No official website yet. See the trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meGfRXMSW9c

July 10, 2017 Will. Television mini-series (10 episodes) on TNT. A drama about the lost years of young William Shakespeare after his arrival to London in 1589 -- when theatre was like rock and roll and a young man with a dream changed the world with his words. It's described as "a contemporary version of Shakespeare's life, played to a modern soundtrack that exposes all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance." Laurie Davidson, Olivia DeJonge, Mattias Inwood, Colm Meaney, William Houston.

Watch the trailer at http://www.tntdrama.com/shows/will.html

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