Saturday, March 12, 2011

No Joy in Cimmeria

Below is the teaser trailer for the upcoming Conan movie starring Jason Momoa.


Other than the fact that it includes a snippet of Howard-inspired dialog, there's not a lot to like here. Mind you, there's not a lot to dislike either, since, even for a teaser, it shows very little, though others have gone to much more heroic lengths to analyze what it does show us. As for me, I think odds are good that this will wind up being a remarkably forgettable B-movie that'll make the original Conan the Barbarian look inspired, which is a shame, because, lack of blue eyes notwithstanding, Momoa at least looks the part and shows evidence of the kind of charisma I think any actor playing Conan needs.

I guess we'll see once the film is released, but, so far anyway, I've seen nothing that suggests my pessimism about the movie is misplaced.

42 comments:

  1. No, not much substance is there? The makers are probably counting on character name recognition to get audiences into the theater.

    I do have to say though, that I like this lack of substance in a trailer more than the modern trailer trend. Why bother seeing a full length movie, after the trailer shows me everything except the most-likely-predictable ending?

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  2. Why oh why can't they give us a Conan with bangs?

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  3. @Tequila - You should check out movie trailers from the 60s and 70s on Youtube. They're these 2 minute long affairs that basically splice together all the cool scenes from the movie, spoilers be damned. The one for A Fistful of Dollars is particularly heinous.

    Damn hard to find an actor who can live up to Conan. Monoa looks the part, maybe, but he doesn't sound it, at least not in that snippet.

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  4. Oh, and @blackstone - eyeliner is canon, at least if you go by the Margaret Brundage cover paintings from Weird Tales ;)

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  5. Don't be sad, after all we do have the Smurfs movie to look forward to this summer!

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  6. It looks like it was made to go straight to the SciFi channel.

    I hope I'm wrong, but...

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  7. "Monoa looks the part, maybe, but he doesn't sound it, at least not in that snippet."

    Really? I think he sounds pretty good. Much better than Arnold (granted, that isn't saying much). Anyway, the only thing that seems right about this movie so far *is* Monoa in my book.

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  8. It didn't look too hateful. Nothing like the romance/urban fantasy scenepainting in Red Riding Hood.

    A lot of warrior cultures used eyeliner and/or eyeshadow, for the same reason football players put black smudges under their eyes.

    Well, that and a lot of warriors dressed up in their best clothes for battle, so as to terrify their enemies and look awesome dead or alive. I mean, if you're going to be buried, dress for your funeral. If you're going to live and be victorious, look good for your girlfriend or wife. Either way, it showed lack of fear and put a nice face on things.

    Of course, this is why a lot of people scavenged battlefield corpses.

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  9. I was hoping for the best cause I like Nispel's commercial work and really liked his Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. And although most people didn't like Pathfinder, I saw a great deal of potential there and knowing just how low budget it was( and it was LOW as I know someone who worked G&E on it) I was quite impressed.

    But this...Well...Looks...kind of like...

    shit.

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  10. Yeah, I agree regarding "Pathfinder." I didn't think much of that movie when it came out, but was pleasantly surprised when I finally watched it.

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  11. That said. It is only a teaser. Although the worse one I've ever seen.

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  12. I can name at least two currently active wrestlers with better Conan voice and body than this dude.

    Ah-Nulds Conan rocked and still holds up. There will be no better Conan film. Bank on it.

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  13. So this new Conan is going to frolic with a bunch of naked bald men? This is both funnier and sadder than James Bond in a dress.

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  14. One of the screenwriters is a friend of one of my game friends and I know he's a Conan fan as well as a gamer and a really cool guy, so I'm trying to hold out hope for his sake that "the suits" don't screw it up too badly.

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  15. others have gone to much more heroic lengths to analyze what it does show us.

    Good to know my agony doesn't go unappreciated. That said, this exemplifies exactly the problem: who the hell is supposed to know who all those faces are? The three scary faces: meaningless. The random balding chick: meaningless. The three beasties: meaningless. The only meaningful things in the trailer are a few shots of Momoa and Nichols, who herself is just "the love interest."

    They don't even try to court the audience with something universal, like the Nemedian Chronicles. Hell, even "days of high adventure." Instead, we get... "This summer... enter the world... of the BARBARIAN."

    The only thing ticking me off more is all the internet commentators thinking "I live, I love, I slay" is a pale imitation of the "original" CRASH YO ENEMEEZ. You ever get those days where you want to reach into the screen and strangle someone from across the internet?

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  16. I set my expectations low on this one so it'll turn out to be great. I anticipate something between the original Conan and the Scorpion King in quality. Will it turn out to be a cult classic? Only time will tell.

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  17. @Taranaich

    Hey, the "crush your enemies" line is damn good. Not only is it a good line, but the build up to it is amazing: you've been watching the movie for 20 minutes, during which Conan has been completely silent, and his first line is something as bad ass as that.

    "I live, I love, I slay" was obviously chosen for the trailer because it does remind people of the excellent "lamentations" line.

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  18. Hey, the "crush your enemies" line is damn good. Not only is it a good line, but the build up to it is amazing: you've been watching the movie for 20 minutes, during which Conan has been completely silent, and his first line is something as bad ass as that.

    That's not what bothers me. What bothers me is that people think that "I live, I love, I slay" was written and conceived as an imitation of "crush your enemies." Which is as idiotic as claiming Gandalf ripped off Dumbledore.

    Some even think it's indicative of some PC agenda pushing a "kinder, gentler barbarian": I've seen far too many comments stating garbage like "Conan doesn't love, he %&£@s" and "sounds more like a poet with a chip on his shoulder than a barbarian."

    "Crush Your Enemies" is a great line in the context of the 1982 film, but it should stay in the 1982 film.

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  19. I can only think of him in Stargate Atlantis. It's seems odd to me him playing another role. I will have to adapt

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  20. monoa is afraid of horses,
    arnold knocked out a camel with his bare hand,
    enuf said . . .

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  21. What was wrong with the ooriginal Conan with Arnold Scwartzenegger, and come to think of it, the BEST D&D fantasy movie was Sword and the Sorceror. Has anyone seen it?

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  22. I haven't seen the Sword and the Sorcerer in a while. All I can remember now is that triple sword that can shoot its blades off, and the sorcerer's weird, extra joint on his fingers.

    I've always been a huge Beastmaster fan. I don't think you would see a tiger in blackface playing the role of a panther today.

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  23. Wow you got all that from that tiny soundbite?

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  24. @Brooser: The main thing wrong the original movie was...well...it wasn't canon. Subotai, an Asian Hyrkanian archer? WTF? Conan was born on the battlefield, not sold into slavery as a child. The character participated in the sack of Venarium, but not Arnie. Basically, Conan the Barbarian was great fun to watch, and a decent movie -- but it wasn't Robert E. Howard by any stretch of the imagination.

    @Brunomac: Wrestlers? You have to be kidding! My wife watches that stuff, and all I hear is hoarse-voiced idiotic dialog spouted 20 decibels higher than it should. AFAIR, Howard's Conan had quite a bit of cunning and intelligence, something which I really never see in Professional Wrestling. Not to say the actors aren't smart, but the characters are certainly not.

    I worry about this new Conan film, because it is Hollywood. Although the Solomon Kane film wasn't half bad.

    For some reason, whenever I read a Conan yarn, I always hear the voice in my head as Thundarr's voice (anyone remember that old cartoon?). Silliness notwithstanding, that voice actor had a great voice (he's dead, now).

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  25. @Steelcaress:

    More people than you might think, considering Thursdays on the Savage Afterworld.

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  26. Reading the Howard stories never made me think of a wrestler. Conan is preposterously strong, yes, but Howard devotes at least as many words to the character's panther-like speed and agility. Ultimately, the barbaric, lethal nature of the character is very hard to cast. Whoever plays Conan needs to suggest this is a dangerous man. (John Hawkes in Winter's Bone is a recent example of a different sort of character, but he radiates this subliminal violence.) Bruce Lee would have made an ideal Conan, if not for the obvious ethnic differences.

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  27. It looks like it was made to go straight to the SciFi channel.

    Thats now SyFy, where wrestling is the highest rating programming. So. sad.

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  28. After that I think it's clearly going to be a low-grade movie, the kind of thing Kevin Sorbo or The Rock might have starred in. The Direction seemed remarkably poor actually.

    Momoa - he looks Polynesian - Maori? He doesn't look Conan-y to me. The ideal would be a 'black Irish' Celt (like my mother!); though non-purists like me are ok with a Teuton Conan like Arnie. Maori Conan is pushing it, although I'd be fine with a Maori Thongar the Barbarian! :)

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  29. Looks ok to me, sorry to buck the trend here.

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  30. My biggest problem, isn't so much anything in the trailer, but the reported plot, which still has the whole "sold into slavery" revenge thing.

    I'm hoping enough Howard comes through to make this worthwhile, but despite the apparent efforts of individuals on the production team, I'm not sure the Hollywood machine will allow that to happen.

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  31. Not being a major reader of Howard, I'm curious if there is any movie out there that captures the feel that devotees are looking for and not getting in the various existing Conan or Solomon Kane films?

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  32. While not perfect Howardian 'fits' by any means, for myself the only two films I ever felt were 'Howardian' are: the first "Mummy" movie with Brendan Frazer (albeit of a more lighthearted REH, a la his 'Steve Costigan' series of tales), and "Gladiator" by Ridley Scott for his S&S or Historical epic tales (although set in a different setting and time, I felt the tone of "Gladiator" was very similar to his "Oriental tales" of the Crusades).

    But of course, YMMV.

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  33. "Not being a major reader of Howard, I'm curious if there is any movie out there that captures the feel that devotees are looking for and not getting in the various existing Conan or Solomon Kane films?"

    Apocalypto
    Centurion

    are a couple of recent films that spring to mind.

    So far it's been easier to find Howardian elements in historical action films, I think, than in fantasy films.

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  34. Deep voice announcer...check.
    Vapid CGI trailer...check.
    Unnecessary tacked on 3D...check.
    Flash based website that locks up your browser and provides nothing for the pleasure...check.

    This has blockbuster written all over it.

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  35. Looks ok to me, sorry to buck the trend here.

    If even one person likes it, then it isn't a total failure. Accentuate the positive, play the glad game, all that jazz.

    My biggest problem, isn't so much anything in the trailer, but the reported plot, which still has the whole "sold into slavery" revenge thing.

    From what I know, the "sold into slavery" aspect isn't part of the script, and never has been. Thank Mitra. It does have the "quest for vengeance against the evil sorcerer/warlord who killed his faddah and people" aspect, though, which is still a pain.

    Not being a major reader of Howard, I'm curious if there is any movie out there that captures the feel that devotees are looking for and not getting in the various existing Conan or Solomon Kane films?

    As Andy mentioned, Apocalypto: Marcus Nispel cites that as an inspiration, which is good. A couple of the Kurosawa films are pretty Howardian, too, particularly his historical films like Yojimbo and Seven Samurai (and by extension their Western reimaginings). Sergio Leone's westerns beautifully evoke Howard. Aguirre: The Wrath of God.

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  36. "From what I know, the "sold into slavery" aspect isn't part of the script, and never has been. Thank Mitra."

    That's the best news I've heard in a while.

    "So far it's been easier to find Howardian elements in historical action films, I think, than in fantasy films."

    Damn straight.

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  38. >I'm not sure the Hollywood machine will allow that >to happen.

    Well to some degree no, even if they stay as true to the canon as possible Your certainly not going to get the ultra bloodshead REH like to put into his stories, although I'm sure Nispel would love to have as much gore as he can in the final cut( there's a story if him creeping the hell out of Michael Bay after showing him reference material of the works of surrealist photographer joel peter witkins when they were on pre production for Chainsaw). From the beginning, Conan was planed to be made PG-13 for theatrical distribution( although I wouldn't be surprised if they put out an unrated cut for DVD).

    But like I said, it's only a teaser,that in it's favor, doesn't show much. I even have a hunch that Momoa's soundbite was take on set before any sort of ADR session too place( a lot of sound/looping is recorded in post production). But at the moment, it's not looking too good.

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  39. So utterly lame.

    You could do so much with the source material.

    Imagine, just a desert vista with a cool city on the horizon, then a sandaled foot come slamming down.

    And all that stupid fake sword martial arts.

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