Today's outing wasn't quite as drunken as past efforts - we're starting to feel our age. But a bunch of us met at the Red Cow in Penrith for lunch and a couple of schooners apiece before the session. Given discussion on the Australian living_history list for the past few weeks we were prepared for the worst... except it wasn't.
The film is a very loose adaptation of the epic poem; for example, Wiglaf is with Beowulf from the start, and there is a connection between Grendel's mother, Beowulf and the dragon which isn't there in the poem. Lots of borrowing from other sources, in particular the Merlin/Morgana legend and even Perseus (the only time we see a glimpse of Grendel's mother's true form is in reflection).
Hrothgar and his men and the Geat thanes are a boozy, swiving bunch of roughnecks. Women and servants are treated badly. Everyone is flawed, including Beowulf. The original text's emphasis on loyalty and bravery is subverted. Christianity is a new influence (an ahistorical one).
Nevertheless I enjoyed myself hugely. The CGI was very good. Grendel was a wonderfully horrible monster. The story adaptation was well done. I particularly liked the scene later in the film where Beowulf is now king in Hrothgar's place (another departure from the original), and there's a re-enactment of his epic battle with Grendel, performed by a very agile 'dwarf' and a costumed man with stick extensions for arms.
I think I'd still prefer to see an authentic version, but this wasn't bad at all.
ETA: "Cheers" to the folk who are going to the Scarsdale tonight. Hope you have a great time.
ETA2: this is a very funny recap.