El Sijo's Blog

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Beowulf the Movie: not quite what it seems


There have been more than one adaptation of the ancient Beowulf poem; this review is about the 2007 movie. You know, the “animated” one. I hesitate to call it that, because it was done in a hyper-realistic style -even using motion capture for the characters- though it cannot avoid the ‘Uncanny Valley’ effect, that is, the faces never quite look real. Also, many people assume ‘animated’ means ‘for kids’- and this is MOST definitely not for kids! I can’t help but wonder why they went this route instead of doing it in live action (with Special Effects for the monsters of course.)

However, the really controversial part is that they changed the story. This is actually a reinterpretation of the poem, basically saying that certain facts were intentionally changed to hide the truth. SPOILERS AHEAD.

It turns out that Beowulf never killed Grendel’s mother. She seduced him, offering him riches and power in exchange for giving her a son. He lied about this and eventually succeeded King Hrothgar as King of the Danes (another change) but his son grows up to be the Dragon that eventually kills him (as in the poem.)

You see, this movie was used to explore the relationships between men and women, as they were in ancient times (and arguably still are sometimes these days.) Men are shown here as being driven by Pride and Lust; women must abide by this whether they like it or not, though Grendel’s Mother embodies Femininity used against men by way of seduction. The fact that those who sleep with her end up sterile is another ironic strike against men.

Also, the movie tries to humanize all its characters- even Grendel, who only attacked humans because his ears could not tolerate loud noises. And his mother was just trying to keep her species -whatever it might be- alive, since she was the last one left, humans killed the rest. So there’s tragedy going around for all characters. Though personally I could not bring myself to feel too sorry for the monsters. Especially not the Dragon, who honestly had no reason to rampage just because the “pact” between his parents was broken (by accident, too!)

While I appreciate what they were trying to do here- and it was done very well, the movie is certainly entertaining- in the end I cannot help but feel that the changes were all forced just to inject modern day values and Hollywood Drama into it. And many things simply did not make sense. Why was the horn lying where anyone could find it? Did the Mother or the Dragon leave it there on purpose to be found? After all she talked about how humans had to be left alone because they were too dangerous?

So, my personal conclusion is: nice try, but not quite good enough. Maybe some other Beowulf movie is (or will be) more faithful to the original story. Though admittedly, it would not be very long, it’s a pretty simple monster-slaying one. Maybe that was another reason they felt the need to pad it with extra stuff.

Recommended for: fans of computer animation, mythology, and adult themes; NOT recommended for children or those who dislike gore or story deconstructions.


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New Section: Art File

Sijo The Traveler

I’ve recently been toying with art generators, and decided that the results deserved to be posted online for people to see. So I created a new page for my Blog, titled Sijo’s Art File (you can see the link on the top right of the Blog.) I will be posting everything from superheroes to fantasy characters there from time to time. Check it out and give me your comments, if you’d like! 🙂

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Dark Relic


Made-for-TV movies, especially those on the SyFy Channel, tend to have a reputation for low quality. This isn’t always true of course; some can have redeeming qualities. This was *almost* the case with Dark Relic, a 2010 Horror/Historical Film set during the First Crusade. The premise is quite interesting: A knight named Sir Gregory and his men find a piece of the True Cross and decide to take the relic to The Pope. Along the way, they rescue two Muslims and a slave from bandits, and they join their quest (the former two because they feel they owe Gregory a debt). However, supernatural evil forces begin attacking them on their journey.

There is a lot of potential here; I particularly liked the use of Muslim characters, showing them to be honorable in their own way; people forget that The Crusaders weren’t exactly Saints themselves. There are also two major female characters, another plus.

Unfortunately, the movie has both plot holes and stupid choices. (Warning, Spoilers ahead.) To begin with, it turns out that, while the relic IS part of the Cross, it is also cursed- why? Apparently just because The Romans put a plaque on it mocking Christ. That’s it. It wasn’t a Satanist, it wasn’t God (at least, that we know of.) The curse is so strong that it attracts evil beings, makes it impossible to remove the plaque, destroy the relic, or even get rid of it! And most holy places fail to protect them, either. Gee, you’d think that God and/or Christ would help them in some way?? You know you have a problem when the characters themselves ask these things. I eventually realized the problem: this is a Horror Film first, and a Historical Drama second. In other words they never intended to give the story a chance- just to tick off all the classic horror movie boxes: slow revelation of the monster(s?) Check. Characters do stupid things? Check. Characters get killed off until only the main ones survive? Check. Oh and (big spoiler here) the Muslim hero dies without returning the favor to Sir Gregory. Did they HAVE to do that?

And they totally ripped off the Balrog from The Hobbit. Really? Couldn’t they afford to be more creative there?

It’s a pity, because as I said, there were some good ideas here. If they had let the story go where it should logically have gone, it would have been more enjoyable, in my opinion.

Still, I enjoyed other factors of the film. Despite the obvious small budget -the special effects were fake-looking and bland at best- the acting was good and you really get caught in the story, especially the interaction between the characters; and the atmosphere of dread gets more intense as the film goes on.

If you’re into horror, historical drama, and aren’t as nitpicky as I am regarding plot details or special effects, you might enjoy this film.

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More Steven Universe stuff in BASH!


Now that Steven Universe has begun producing new episodes, I’ve decided to start converting characters from the show in Basic Action Super Heroes rules again (see earlier blog entries for the main characters.) I realized however that it would be easier if I started by designing the Gem race Archetype first. So, here it is! I hope you find this useful or interesting.

Please keep in mind that there are likely still many facts about the Gems yet to be revealed. I plan to update this as time goes.

(Once again, thanks to the Steven Universe Wiki for the data!)

Background: The Gems are an alien race of sentient gemstones. They have the ability to form a body around themselves, but as long as the gem itself isn’t shattered, they cannot die.

Thousands of years ago, the Gems developed advanced technology and began traveling to other planets, robbing them of minerals to make more Gems, not caring how this harmed other lifeforms.

Until a Gem named Rose Quartz opposed the Homeworld Gems in their attempt to plunder Earth. After a terrible war, Homeworld abandoned its plans for Earth, but Rose’s surviving warriors -The Crystal Gems- were left exiled on the planet.

A few years ago, Rose met the human, Greg Universe, and they fell in love. They had a child, Steven, but because he needed her Gem to survive, she was forced to discorporate to allow him to be born. Since then, Steven has been raised by Greg and the other Crystal Gems.

Recently, the Homeworld Gems have become aware of the Crystal Gems’ presence on Earth again. There have been several clashes between them, and more are likely to happen.



Brawn: variable Agility: variable Mind: variable (variable points)


Healing 1 (1 pt)

Immunity 4 (starvation, asphyxiation, lack of sleep, changes in gravity) 4 pts.

Shape Shift <Concentration, retains colors, -1 pt> 3 pts.

note: all Gems can project light from their gem, and contain small objects in force bubbles; these uses are worth no points.


Devastating Weakness (to having their gem damaged) -4 pts.



Instant Change (must fuse with another Gem)

Membership (for the Crystal Gems)

Pocket Dimension


Duty (for the Homeworld Gems)

Freak (skin color, embedded gem)



Technology/Invent (mainly Peridot class Gems, but also others)

Basic Cost: Stats (variable) + Powers 8 – Weakness 4 = 4 points or higher.

Variations: Apparently every Gem has individual powers or skills above those listed. Design them as if they were Heroes (or Villains) using any points leftover.