Back to Beowulf - The Movies

Back to Beowulf - The Movies

Epic Poem in Cinema is a Mix of Reviews


In recent years, movie directors have been unable to resist the call of Beowulf as their lead character. Each production has received a mixed bag of reviews, ranging from enthusiastic to utter dismissal. There weren’t any blockbusters, to be sure, although the animated version seemed to be a high grosser.

1999 - Beowulf

Christopher Lambert is Beuwulf in this “looser” adaptation of the poem. Directed by Graham Baker, it involved such liberties as a son produced from a union between King Hrothgar and Grendel’s mother. Critics had a field day with the sci-fi take on a 6th century epic, although fans seemed to like the updated new-agey effects. Not to mention nudity and the required gore.

2005 - Beowulf & Grendel

Gerard Butler as the lead evidently competed with the bleakest of Icelandic landscapes in this version. Apparently, it missed quite a bit of the original’s message under the direction of Sturla Gunnarsson. And Butler is the most recognizable name in the cast, too. It does contain generous bits of blood-soaking action, so those who like action/adventure might not mind so much. Anyone with sensitivities to overt violence probably should miss this one. There’s also some subtle hilarity; look for it. (See video trailer above.)

2007 - Beowulf

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, this one had a low-profile list of higher-profile actors, including Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, and Angelina Jolie. The lead went to Ray Winstone while Crispin Glover went into troll mode as Grendel. Grendel’s mother turns into a temptress (as Jolie) who successfully seduces Beowulf. Filming was on a “motion capture” stage, which created the same type of visual effects and animated characters as the Polar Express.

Still from included video