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Viking Movies

 Grendel (2007)
Screenshot from: Grendel an NBC Universal Production
*** These comments may contain spoilers, which is kind of an ironic warning, now that I think about it ***

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 apparently irrelevant.

  • 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.

  • To 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 brand-new.

  • 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 the picture.

  • Hrothgar's palace, Heorot, rather than being a Norse long hall, apparently was designed and constructed by artisans who sank with Atlantis.

  • 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.

  • Grendel's 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 Swamp Thing.

  • 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 weight.

  • 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 now.

©   For information contact Jack Garrett at info@vikingsofbjornstad.com