So, some random-ish thoughts:
- Generally, the CGI was amazing, although most of the movie I thought I was watching a video game come to life. Seriously, I felt like I should have a controller in my hands. But, at points, they were able to convincingly recreate men on screen. I mean, it was literally jarring for me to see what absolutely looked like a real actor up there.
- The movie's portrayal of Grendel has a lot to do with John Gardner's novel, Grendel, methinks, as the monster comes across quite sympathetic. I also liked how they played up the filial relationship between Grendel and his mother. I also kind of liked the weird Olde Englishe/ modern English that Grendel and his mom spoke. It worked well to differentiate them from the men, as older, more ancient, products of another age in some way.
- It was also just funny at parts. There's a scene in Heorot that reminded me of a scene at the end of the first Austin Powers movie.
- The insertion of Christianity was a bit odd and heavy-handed though, especially the burning crosses that come crashing down (repeatedly).
- The most interesting thing for me though, and this goes back to my "watching a video game" comment, was how much I felt afterwards that I had stumbled into some guy's adolescent fantasy -- a real cross between a graphic novel and a video game, which is exactly what this movie is. But I don't mean that condescendingly at all. The sex and the violence. The strong men doing brave things with swords and brawn (certainly there in the poem), slaying monsters, jumping off of things and on to things, and being "conflicted" by what they're doing. The kind of "pithy" philosophy undergirding it all. The handsome men lusting after, even being seduced by, beautiful women. And those men's inability to resist. (Seriously, Wiglaf, even after everything that's happened?)
UPDATE: Dr. Virago now has a full review up. I don't agree with everything she says but she's definitely right about the role of women in the poem (see also my much briefer thoughts above).
UPDATE 2: Dr. Nokes now has his (very-detailed) review up.