Sunday, June 19, 2011

Conan Red Band Trailer

The "red band" trailer for the upcoming Conan the Barbarian film has been released. Here it is, in case you haven't seen it.




I can't say my hopes for the movie are much improved. Aside from the fact that it's nice to see Ron Perlman and that the actors consistently pronounce Conan's name correctly, there's not much to like here. Momoa's line delivery actually appears worse than it did in previous trailers (not that the dialog is one easily invested with depth anyway). I'm not too keen on all the balletic fight scenes; I'd much prefer a more brutal take on Hyborian Age combat. Likewise, all the CGI blood and explosions don't impress me. Which reminds me: what's with all the explosions anyway? They strike me as very out of place in a movie like this one.

Ah well.

65 comments:

  1. A friend of mine is a screenwriter, who occasionally games. He's written several sci-fi films and is currently working in the horror genre. I once asked him why there are so many awful movies and his response surprised me. Basically, "You can't begin to imagine how hard it is to even make a bad movie."

    He went on to explain that the relationships between writer, producers, directors, investors, actors, studio execs and marketers all combine to create an environment where artistic vision and story integrity is ALWAYS going to suffer. it's very unfortunate.

    Happy Fathers Day, BTW.

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  2. I attended Robert E. Howard days this past weekend and was at the panel where the fans got to ask questions and interact with some really great guys from Paradox. We got a special "hello" video from Jason Momoa as well as the Red Band Trailer.
    I can tell you a few things. That blood isn't CGI, at least not most of it. The director wanted a LOT of blood used in the battles, and I saw pictures of them actually doing the blood effects. I do agree about the explosion (was there more than one?) but we aren't sure what the context is there. I think the only real “balletic” fight will be against those supernatural sand demons, the rest of the combat scenes looked pretty gruesome, especially in the still photos were shown.
    The people from Paradox are very big fans of Howard's work, and this movie will be closer to the true Hyboria than the previous films. The guy from Paradox printed several of Conan's most interesting one liners and Momoa had those pasted up on the wall of his trailer so that was constantly being exposed to the way that Conan thought.

    I’m really not sure what to make of your comments on his line delivery.. its Conan.. while his emotions run deep, he didn’t always convey that in long drawn out and thoughtful proclamations, he was a man of direct action and few words.. usually delivered in anger.
    The people from Paradox fought to keep this movie from featuring the Rock as Conan (they were offered a LOT of extra money to do a PG-13 version starring someone like Diesel of the Rock as Conan and turned it down) and they fought to keep Conan’s backstory as close to the books as possible, they just wouldn’t allow the studio to use the “Slave background” angle again.

    So, while this movie won’t be perfect, but there are/were a lot of people behind the scenes working to keep this close to Howard’s vision.

    Oh, I got to hold : two of Conan’s swords from the movie, my wife put on the Stygian witch’s claws and I wore Khalar-Zym’s mask (which TSA broke at the air port…)

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  3. I'm not hoping for Howard. Just something as good as, say one of the better novel pastiches. The film equivalent of Karl Edward Wagner would be nice.

    (It's been decades since I've read The Road of King's, so I might get slammed on that. As I recall, though, KEW did Conan proud.)

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  4. I don't usually comment on blogs, but I'm with Todd on this. It's interesting to me how something can come across very differently to various people which shows how difficult it can be for creatives to judge audience reactions (I'm saying that as an artist, opinions about hollywood methods are another conversation entirely which I'd prefer to avoid). As far as I know, they wanted to portray Conan as a dangerous, fast, athletic killer. I'd be a lot more scared of this guy than Schwarzenegger. I'm not sure how else you could portray him. It looks brutal enough to me and at least seems to be a good visual and atmospheric representation of the Conan world. I could do without the metal soundtrack though.

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  5. Based on the trailer, this movie looks like total $hi+. I'm going to pass on this one.

    It almost seems like a cheezy, rated-R version of 'Pirates of the Caribbean'.

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  6. If they're so dedicated to doing a good job, then why not spring for some $25 blue contacts? The best movies get the subtle (as well as the obvious) right. Instead of watching this, I'll just read some of the stories again. Better use of time.

    Also, the music blows and is a complete and utter turnoff (Undead by "Hollywood Undead" - are you f'ing kidding me with this mallcore rap rock crap when there's High on Fire? For shame.)

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  7. "...explosions don't impress me...what's with all the explosions anyway? They strike me as very out of place in a movie like this one."--James Maliszewski

    Explosions? Plural? When I watched the trailer, there was only one explosion in it.

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  8. I'm in agreement with Jason, above. this looks about as good as you're gonna get from Hollywood. I also want to give a thumbs down to the metal soundtrack, and really hope it's just for the trailer.

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  9. That's not metal - don't shame metal with that association. They're rap rock.

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  10. yeah, I'm with Ed. I didn't see all those explosions you wrote about.

    This trailer actually gave me more hope than the previous ones that this movie is going to be merely bad, instead of horribly awful.

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  11. The music for the video won't be on the soundtrack. Its going to be an instrumental.

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  12. Then again, apart from the vivid language, REH's stories are still just pulp adventures. It seems to me that people think he's Goethe. He's a grand master for sure, and his stories more often than not have more depth than the genre implies, but when you read CONAN you're in for larger than life adventure, not the talkative stuff.

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  13. Basically, "You can't begin to imagine how hard it is to even make a bad movie."

    This is a very good point. I'm honestly amazed we every get any good movies.

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  14. The soundtrack was the best part about the original Conan movie and we often use it on our gaming sessions. The metal in the trailer is just awful....

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  15. It's hard to make a movie period. But regarding Conan: the one real thing that has bothered me so far is the dialog--it's just dreadfu!l And with things like Game of Thrones proving fantasy doesn't hav eto be bad dialog and acting, I think it'll tarnish Conan a bit especially as Morma has shown that he does hav some acting ability in him. But on a positive note from judging previous R rated fantasy films like " 300", I'm sure Conan will be a hit which is a good thing for both REH( as people will become more aware of his works) and maybe some interest into the Hobby will trickle down.

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  16. It looks like it will be a solid, fun, swords 'n' gore B movie. And I will enjoy it as such. No, it is not going to be the perfect Conan epic film all of us fanboys want. A treatment of Conan that is as good as Jackson's LOTR (which is what everyone seems to expect) comes along once in a generation. To expect something of that calibre is to just set yourself up for disappointment. I think that if this film didn't have the name of our favourite Cimmerian attached to it, no one would be complaining. But because it is Conan, and so many of us have a strong emotional attachment to the character, the author and the genre, we demand that perfect treatment.
    It still looks to be a hell of lot better than the Arnie version.
    I am with Chainsaw on this, though - how hard would it have been to give him black hair dye and blue contacts?

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  17. How is it fine o one hand to hold up d&d as conan and gandalf team up to fight Dracula, but turn around and demand purity from a movie?

    It's like the guys who get pissy when they hear someone is playing their d&d campaign set in LotR because if it can't be done with purity (i.e you can't play an elf or wizard, the best spell you can cast is a poltice of mud that has the effect of a cure light wound spell that takes 2 days to cast etc).

    Unless the do a picaresque movie of various short stories (a grindhouse movie of like 4 twenty minute stories verbatim from Howard) then the only thing you can reliably count on is that this movie will resemble a d&d game "set in" LotR or hyboria.

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  18. Right? I mean, the eye color detail is *SO* cheap to reproduce, I have to believe they either a) didn't know about it (idiots!) or b) purposely wanted to ignore it (idiots!). Neither option really leaves me that optimistic about the rest of the details, small or large.

    I really don't even consider myself a fanboy.. it just seems like such a basic, easy thing to get right - why wouldn't you get it right??

    I suppose we should be honest here.. this is just a popcorn-tossing Barbarian movie capitalizing on the name-recognition of CONAN.

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  19. I think that you're setting yourself up for disappointment if you expect this flick to do for REH what Peter Jackson's trilogy did for Tolkien.

    Hey, it's bound to _not_ be Bob E. Howard's Conan, but it can still be a fun time at the movies. Swordfights, monsters, evil wizards - and from the look of the trailer, decent production values too. Think of it as another pastiche, or as a D&D movie that (hopefully) doesn't suck.

    As for Jason Momoa, his recent stint on Game of Thrones made me more excited for Conan; he may not have the range of sir Alec Guiness, but he certainly knows how to play a violent barbarian dude.

    Full disclosure: I actually _like_ low budget fantasy B-movies like Hawk the Slayer and the Sword and the Sorcerer, so it's not like I'm a discerning consumer of fantasy.

    But I'm inordinately pleased that the success of the LotR trilogy has given us a bunch of well made fantasy and Swords & Sandals flicks. In my little circle, we have an expression for movies and shows that can inspire good gaming sessions: We call them 'Dungeonworthy' (approximate translation).

    This new Conan flick looks quite dungeonworthy. :)

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  20. Honestly, I don't think the finer detail are important compared to thing's that ARE important like the screenplay and dialog. Maybe the filmmakers did a test on Morma's eye and hair color and they came to a conclusion that it didn't look good on him. Also colored contacts are a bitch to wear and if your doing a lot of action scenes where you have guys swinging a sword at you or explosion are going off, there might be some potential problems and the last thing anyone wants is a person on the crew getting hurt( especially the lead actor) .It's not reported much, but people do get hurt and even die on filmsets. That's why every film studio has both a first aid and a fire department on the studio lot.

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  21. The soundtrack - if that is the soundtrack and not just a bit for the trailer only - sucks big time. I hope that isn't part of the film.

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  22. Its definitely not part of the film, I can't remember who they mentioned was doing the tracks, but it was not anything like the music used in the trailers.

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  23. It seems to me that this movie is not really being made for fans of Conan, but rather the current audience of people who want action/fantasy/300 type stuff. Just sayin'

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  24. Conan as grunge, eh? I think it actually kinda works. It does feel 'Howardesque' to me - much moreso than the Schwarzenegger CtB, which had all that Samurai stuff.

    A blue-eyed actor would be better, but Momoa does look more Conanlike than Arnie, too.

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  25. ugh... i didn't have much hope for this movie and the trailer just killed my last desire to see it. what happened to movies with really good classical scores?

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  26. Todd:
    "The people from Paradox fought to keep this movie from featuring the Rock as Conan (they were offered a LOT of extra money to do a PG-13 version starring someone like Diesel of the Rock as Conan and turned it down) and they fought to keep Conan’s backstory as close to the books as possible"

    Yeah, this does seem encouraging. I think The Rock would have made a very bad Conan; and this is the first time I've seen Momoa looking kinda 'right'.

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  27. Chainsaw:
    "Right? I mean, the eye color detail is *SO* cheap to reproduce, I have to believe they either a) didn't know about it (idiots!) or b) purposely wanted to ignore it (idiots!). Neither option really leaves me that optimistic about the rest of the details, small or large.

    I really don't even consider myself a fanboy.. it just seems like such a basic, easy thing to get right - why wouldn't you get it right??"

    But Hollywood doesn't like blue-eyed men... >:)

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  28. I'm surprised it's R-rated. I would have thought a movie like this would mostly be aimed at boys.

    On another topic, bear in mind that the comics are better known than the stories, and the original movie is better known than both.

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  29. This movie will be compared against Arnie's films, not against Howard or his imitators and not against the comics. Against Arnie's films, we have a better film already and that is victory enough.

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  30. You fanboys are funny...

    Did anyone really believe that it was going to be just like REH's stories?

    If you did, you're very naive.

    Personally, I'd give it a chance.

    IF the critics hate it, then I know I'll like it.

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  31. Um -- what is the INCORRECT pronunciation of Conan?

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  32. Cinema is dead, long live TV.

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  33. I do agree about the explosion (was there more than one?)

    In this trailer, no. My comment was meant to encompass all the trailers, which, taken together, seem to show several different explosions, though it's possible that it's only one from different angles.

    I’m really not sure what to make of your comments on his line delivery.. its Conan.. while his emotions run deep, he didn’t always convey that in long drawn out and thoughtful proclamations, he was a man of direct action and few words.. usually delivered in anger.

    To me, Momoa sounds like he's growling all his lines, doing an artificially raspy voice for effect, like Christian Bale in the Batman movies. I don't like it much.

    they fought to keep Conan’s backstory as close to the books as possible,

    See, this is where I disagree. The idea that Conan's people were wiped out by some outsider is both laughable and and contrary to what we know of his backstory from Howard. I just don't understand why this quest for vengeance against the murderer of his people storyline keeps coming up.

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  34. This trailer actually gave me more hope than the previous ones that this movie is going to be merely bad, instead of horribly awful.

    I might be able to agree with that sentiment.

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  35. But regarding Conan: the one real thing that has bothered me so far is the dialog--it's just dreadfu!

    Yeah, that may be part of why I don't think Momoa sounds as good as he ought to -- the dialog doesn't impress me.

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  36. It does feel 'Howardesque' to me - much moreso than the Schwarzenegger CtB, which had all that Samurai stuff.

    I think it feels different than the Schwarzenegger film, but I'm not convinced it's any more Howardian.

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  37. On another topic, bear in mind that the comics are better known than the stories, and the original movie is better known than both.

    You are correct -- and that's very sad.

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  38. Um -- what is the INCORRECT pronunciation of Conan?

    co-NAN, with the second syllable rhyming with "man."

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  40. Chainsaw said...
    Right? I mean, the eye color detail is *SO* cheap to reproduce, I have to believe they either a) didn't know about it (idiots!) or b) purposely wanted to ignore it (idiots!). Neither option really leaves me that optimistic about the rest of the details, small or large.

    So your saying eye and hair color is more important to you then a good script with well written dialog? I guess now I know why Twilight is so popular...

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  41. @James said:

    The idea that Conan's people were wiped out by some outsider is both laughable and and contrary to what we know of his backstory from Howard. I just don't understand why this quest for vengeance against the murderer of his people storyline keeps coming up.

    I imagine it stems from a combination of people's expectations from the Arnold Conan movies and the simple fact that pretty much every movie hero seems to require "revenge" as a motivating factor anymore (eg Spider-Man, Daredevil, Batman, Iron Man...heck, even Hannibal Lecter).

    Having a hero/anti-hero simply be motivated by wanderlust and wealth probably wouldn't cut it in today's media world.

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  42. Having a hero/anti-hero simply be motivated by wanderlust and wealth probably wouldn't cut it in today's media world.

    If that's really the rationale behind such a change in Conan's character, it's disappointing. But you may well be right.

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  43. RC, I said if they can't get the easy basics right, I'm suspicious they can or want to get much else right. Sorry this is so threatening to you (or difficult to understand).

    Where's a Go Back to EnWorld sign when you need one?

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  44. 99.9% of the people watching the movie aren't going to care what color Conan's eyes are.

    I mean, the woman they got to play Karen Murphy in the Dresden Files TV show wasn't short and blonde. They even changed the character's name to Connie Murphy since there was an actual Chicago cop with the name Karen Murphy and they didn't want to worry about lawsuits or other trouble. Sometimes, things change between film and books. It seems odd to get caught up on the small details and take it as an indication that the whole is going to suck. And the vast majority of your audience doesn't care so long as they're entertained.

    Though Dresden Files may have been a bad example there, since I wasn't fond of the TV show. :P

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  46. Your not threatening in the slightest. I'm simply just pointing out an obvious flaw in your thinking about informal things such as cosmetics are more important then the screenplay. Although you haven't mentioned it , you do understand a screenplay is more important then someones make up, I hope? Or maybe I got you wrong and are a closeted fashionista and like to pay attention about how nice the actors loincloth hangs from his waist more then the actual story. Please continue daydreaming...

    As to the endworld sign, it's right at the front door before you walked in.

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  47. Explosions? Plural? When I watched the trailer, there was only one explosion in it.

    Having watched the trailers and TV spots, I spotted at least two separate explosions, and possibly a third.

    Then again, apart from the vivid language, REH's stories are still just pulp adventures. It seems to me that people think he's Goethe. He's a grand master for sure, and his stories more often than not have more depth than the genre implies, but when you read CONAN you're in for larger than life adventure, not the talkative stuff.

    When *you,* and indeed probably most people read Conan, maybe, but I haven't been reading and re-reading Conan all these years purely because of the larger than life adventure. There's a middle ground between larger-than-life adventure and Faust, and Howard occupies that middle ground. No, his work isn't some dense symbolist exploration of the human condition, but that doesn't mean his works are simply light, fun adventures with "more than the genre implies" under the surface. Howard is one of those authors that can be enjoyed for both the sheer adventure of his ripping yarns, and the philosophical, mythological, historical and cultural resonance. I don't see why it has to be a choice between Flash Gordon and Prometheus.

    A treatment of Conan that is as good as Jackson's LOTR (which is what everyone seems to expect) comes along once in a generation. To expect something of that calibre is to just set yourself up for disappointment.

    To be frank, I just expect an adaptation. How many comic, film and video game adaptations can you think of who just take the main character, and NONE of the story, supporting characters, plot or themes of the source material? The 1982 and 2011 Conan films are some of the few "adaptations" I can think of that doesn't include any of the secondary characters, overarching plots, settings or themes of any of Howard's original stories. Lifts that last a few minutes or seconds like the Tree of Woe hardly count.

    Expecting a truly faithful adaptation is one thing, and I can understand that being an unrealistic expectation. But expecting a film based on one of the great fantasy writers of the 20th Century to actually adapt one of the stories which have persisted for 80 years, and have already been excellently adapted into comic format, really isn't unreasonable. Even if it has an irritating comedy sidekick, a shoehorned-in love interest and makes a mockery of the original story, at least you can point to where bits and pieces came from.

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  48. On another topic, bear in mind that the comics are better known than the stories, and the original movie is better known than both.

    The comics at least adapted the original stories, and some of the most famous issues are direct adaptations. As for the film, well, remember there was a time when the Batman TV show was better known than the dark original character.

    See, this is where I disagree. The idea that Conan's people were wiped out by some outsider is both laughable and and contrary to what we know of his backstory from Howard. I just don't understand why this quest for vengeance against the murderer of his people storyline keeps coming up.

    See, here's the scary thing: as bad as that origin story could've been, it could've been WORSE. I was at the same presentation as Todd (hey there!) and I learned that the producers wanted to see Conan being enslaved and put to the Wheel of Pain, since that was the easiest way to have time pass between Conan's youth and adulthood. That sequence, which is probably the single greatest affront to Howard's character and themes, was going to be in the film, but Fredrik Malmberg and Jason Momoa successfully lobbied against its inclusion.

    So while I despise the idea of Conan's tribe being wiped out and him being left all on his lonesome, this is a case where it really could've been worse. Also, need I remind you of the horror that was the Cimmerians' own dogs turning into werewolves and turning on their masters?

    99.9% of the people watching the movie aren't going to care what color Conan's eyes are.

    99.9% of the people watching the film aren't going to care about any aspect of the film being faithful to the source material anyway. If you go down this route, why make *anything* faithful to the source material, since the average cinemagoer's just going to sit somewhere and be entertained for two hours?

    It seems odd to get caught up on the small details and take it as an indication that the whole is going to suck.

    Come now, surely you've gathered by now that Chainsaw isn't saying "this movie is going to be excellent... wait a minute! The eyes aren't blue!" The film's story is a write-off. Howard fans knew this wasn't going to be an adaptation since November 2009. The director has a lot to prove. The blue eyes isn't the first thing that's wrong, it's simply the latest in a series of things.

    Besides, Conan's eye colour is an important facet of his character, in that in just about every story, he's the only person who has blue eyes. His blue eyes mark him as a northern barbarian, distinct from the Stygian warrior class or Afghuli tribesmen, and work as a subtle visual cue that he isn't like other people. There are more than a few instances where his blue eyes affect the plot: four whole chapters of "The Hour of the Dragon," for instance: if anyone noticed his blue eyes while he's stalking through Stygia, he'd be dead. Does Murphy's height and hair colour affect the very plot and thematic resonance of the Dresden Files like Conan's eye colour?

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  49. JM:
    "I think it feels different than the Schwarzenegger film, but I'm not convinced it's any more Howardian."

    The trailer had a bleak, nihilistic feel which fely Howardian to me, much moreso than Arnie's Nietzschean Ubermensch morality. I love the Arnie CtB - I probably like it better than many of the REH stories (*eek!*) - and part of that is that the Arnie CtB-morality is simple and easy to grasp; and clearly relates closely to Milius' and Arnie's own worldview. But Howard's worldview is much darker. Arnie reads Conan, especially the comics, and sees a tale of an invincible outsider who rises to become King of California - I mean Aquilonia >:) - in the Dreaming West. But my reading of the original REH tales is extremely dark. I felt some of that darkness from this trailer.

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  50. I agree with those who don't like the "Conan's people are destroyed, he seeks revenge" meme. I think I know where it's coming from - it's part of the Noble Savage myth. In this myth, very popular from the 19th century on, the Inevitable Progress of technologically advanced Western Man brings Doom to the barbarian savages fated to die out and be replaced. Once the savages are safely destroyed the audience can identify with the Last Survivor. It's a fundamentally optimistic Myth of Progress.

    But this is completely contra Howard, of course. Howard sees *civilisation*, not savagery, as the temporary state, and doomed to destruction. In Howard's view it is the barbaric Picts and Cimmerians who will one day destroy the civilised Hyborean Age.

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  51. I'll say that in this I tend to nowadays identify more with the Howardian view.

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  52. Despite my normal pessimism I am optimistic about this movie - it looks like a sexy, bloody, popcorn movie. Momoa looks more like Conan to me than Arnold did.

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  53. 1. Nowadays, Robert E. Howard’s Conan is a niche product, and you can’t expect for Hollywood to make a $100 million Conan flick exclusively for the niche market (I mean the fans). If the producers of the movie are willing to spend millions of dollars in it, it’s only normal they want to address their product to an audience as broad as possible. So, when they have to choose between staying faithful to the source material or making it easier for the general public (the people who actually make movies a viable form of entertainment), there’s no discussion about what they will do.

    2. I have never understood why so many people gets always so upset about movies not being faithful adaptations of source materials. The classic Conan comics weren’t faithful adaptations either – they were simply very good comics, and that’s what matters. Personally I don’t care that much if the Conan movie copies the REH stories to the last detail (at least, not to the extent of entering into a discussion about Conan’s hairstyle and eye color). Only thing I want is for it to be a good movie. Neither “A clockwork orange”, “Jaws” or “Planet of the apes” (the old version, not the Tim Burton crap) where faithful adaptations. But all of them were GREAT movies (IMHO, even better than the books they were based on).

    3. I think maybe we pay too much attention to movies (and I LOVE movies, don’t get me wrong), as if a story could only reach his definitive status as a work of art when adapted to the silver screen. To me, The Lord of the Rings is a wonderful piece of literature that some years ago was adapted into a well done trilogy of movies. But even if the movies had been awful, my love for the Tolkien books would stay the same. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a wonderful comic-book, and an utterly crappy movie. So what?

    4. That said, I don’t particularly like any of the Conan trailers I have seen so far. The rock music is a turn off, I’m sick and tired of 3D, and Jason Momoa is not the kind of actor I would have chosen to play the lead role. But I plan to see the movie first then judge it (not the other way around). And the same goes for the Smurfs, Tintin, Green Lantern or anything else.

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  54. Expecting a truly faithful adaptation is one thing, and I can understand that being an unrealistic expectation. But expecting a film based on one of the great fantasy writers of the 20th Century to actually adapt one of the stories which have persisted for 80 years, and have already been excellently adapted into comic format, really isn't unreasonable. Even if it has an irritating comedy sidekick, a shoehorned-in love interest and makes a mockery of the original story, at least you can point to where bits and pieces came from.

    This is pretty much my feeling too. I mean, I have a lot of criticisms of Jackson's LotR movies, but they're at least recognizably based on the novel with which they share a name. That's just not the case with Conan.

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  55. . Nowadays, Robert E. Howard’s Conan is a niche product, and you can’t expect for Hollywood to make a $100 million Conan flick exclusively for the niche market (I mean the fans). If the producers of the movie are willing to spend millions of dollars in it, it’s only normal they want to address their product to an audience as broad as possible. So, when they have to choose between staying faithful to the source material or making it easier for the general public (the people who actually make movies a viable form of entertainment), there’s no discussion about what they will do.

    See, here's the thing: I don't see why there has to be a choice. Conan isn't The Lord of the Rings. It isn't a difficult thing to adapt. The stories fit into a typical three or five-act structure, many have the makings of a perfectly solid action film with little to no alterations. Hell, the stories were originally written for mass market consumption in the pulps, written expressly to entertain. I can see little to no reason why an adaptation of, say, "The People of the Black Circle" would somehow interfere with targeting demographics and getting a "wide audience." It worked like gangbusters in the '60s when the Lancers were out, it worked like gangbusters in the '70s when the Marvel comics were hugely successful.

    Hell, the 1982 film is an example of deviating from the source material not paying off. The Lancers included the original Robert E. Howard stories (edited, but largely intact), and they sold tremendously well. The Marvel comics adapted the original Robert E. Howard stories, and were critically acclaimed and massively successful. The 1982 film came out with a new story and characters, and... became 17th highest grossing film of 1982. Only a few thousand dollars above The Sword and the Sorcerer, and below such classics as Firefox and The Toy. If Arnold didn't hit it big with The Terminator a few years later, would the 1982 film have even a fraction of the fanbase it has nowadays?

    I have never understood why so many people gets always so upset about movies not being faithful adaptations of source materials.

    Because I guess you and I are just very different people. That said...

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  56. The classic Conan comics weren’t faithful adaptations either – they were simply very good comics, and that’s what matters.

    Are you kidding me? The classic Conan comics were incredibly faithful. They mirrored the plot, characters and themes almost entirely. They were instantly recognizable as adaptations. Compare issue 4 to Howard's "The Tower of the Elephant" - the differences are minor to the point of irrelevance. Sure, you had episodes like "The Lurker at the Threshold", but they were still absolutely adaptations.

    You seriously think the Thomas adaptations are remotely comparable to what Stone & Milius did? That's like saying Jackson's LotR and I, Robot were equally unfaithful.

    Personally I don’t care that much if the Conan movie copies the REH stories to the last detail (at least, not to the extent of entering into a discussion about Conan’s hairstyle and eye color).

    All power to you, but since you obviously aren't as invested, how can you expect to understand those that are? And, again, I'd like to think there's a middle ground between "slavish translation" and "throw everything out the window."

    Neither “A clockwork orange”, “Jaws” or “Planet of the apes” (the old version, not the Tim Burton crap) where faithful adaptations. But all of them were GREAT movies (IMHO, even better than the books they were based on).

    A Clockwork Orange retains the characters, themes and plot of the book. Alex de Large is a delinquent obsessed with classical music, leader of a gang called the Droogs, who commit atrocious acts of violence; after attacking a couple and raping the wife, he is captured, and subjected to the Ludovico technique, which instils an aversion to violence that utterly transforms him. Sure, certain elements are changed, but it still follows the story, adapts the characters, and retains the themes.

    Same with Jaws. A shark is threatening Amity Island, Chief Martin Brody has to campaign against the mayor to close the beach and kill the shark, he hires oceanographer Matt Hooper and shark hunter Quint to kill it, the three don't get along but eventually bond, before Brody sees the shark die. Sure, certain elements are changed, but it still follows the story, adapts the characters, and retains the themes.

    Planet of the Apes. An earthman crashes his spaceship on a strange planet; the humans are brutish and apelike, and encounter an ape hunting party, who have reached civilization, and have mastered language, technology and culture, though their origins are lost to time; the earthman is adopted by two sympathetic ape scientists called Cornelius and Zira, who are astonished by his intelligence; ape society is divided between warlike gorillas, political orang-utans and intellectual chimpanzees; the truth of the planet is discovered, as it's revealed to be earth in the far future after an ape rebellion. Sure, certain elements are changed, but it still follows the story, adapts the characters, and retains the themes.

    You can't do this with Conan, and if you can't see the difference between what's being done with Conan, and what's being done with the other films, then I'm afraid we'll have to leave it at that.

    I think maybe we pay too much attention to movies (and I LOVE movies, don’t get me wrong), as if a story could only reach his definitive status as a work of art when adapted to the silver screen.

    Who's saying that? I want to see a Conan film because I think it'd make a damn good film, not because it'd give Howard any more credibility or resonance. We don't *need* a Conan film any more than we *need* Frazetta's paintings, the many excellent comics, or other illustrative creations inspired by Howard's work. We just think it'd be nice.

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  57. Have to agree with the nay-sayers on this one. The Arnie Conan movies were terrible and it always bothered me that they didn't adapt any of the original (and much better) Howard stories rather than coming up with the stupid origin story they did.

    The new one looks to be about the same.

    I just don't understand why they refuse to make use of the original material. It seems to me that the perfect way to start the very first Conan movie is the way so many of the stories started - in the middle of action. I don't need nor do I really want to know what Conan's childhood was like. In fact he's a far more interesting character if I don't know what his life was like before the stories...

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  58. oh, and the notion that the comics didn't faithfully adapt Howards work is ludicrous of course...

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  59. What's especially puzzling about the failure to even try to adapt Howard's stories is that his writing was very cinematic as is, very much about stuff happening and people being defined by their actions and spoken words and less about internal monologues. Red Nails, Black Colossus, The Scarlet Citadel, People of the Black Circle, Beyond the Black River...any one of these, to name only a few, would make for an entertaining film without requiring a significant amount of tinkering.

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  60. Yes Taranaich, obviously there is a middle ground between "slavish translation" and "throw everything out the window". Probably I have explained myself poorly (excuse my english if any of my sentences doesn't make sense). I’m a big Conan fan, I’m looking forward to see this movie (even if I don’t think I’m going to like it), and of course I’d rather have a recognizable Conan character than a parody or a generic barbarian hero. Only thing I’m saying is that the quality of the movie is one thing, and the accuracy of the adaptation is a different thing, and sometimes you don’t need one to have the other.

    In the examples I gave: The ending in A clockwork orange is completelly different from the one in the book (actually, it’s just the opposite), to the point that Anthony Burgess himself felt that the changes had completelly spoilt the message of the original story. Jaws (the movie) totally erased a subplot about the infidelity of Brody’s wife with Hooper, a subplot that fuelled the dinamics between the three main characters (in the book they “don't eventually bond”; they hate each other to the end). As for Planet of the Apes, the ending of the movie is again completelly different from the one in the book (and much, much better), giving the story a resonance it didn’t originally had. All three were free adaptations that worked on their own power. What I don’t get is why some people think it’s OK to completelly change Planet of the Apes or A Clockwork Orange’s endings, but toying with Conan’s background is some kind of crime (besides, you speak about “what's being done with Conan” as if we had already seen the movie. We are tearing it to shreds based on a 3 minute trailer!).

    Let’s say that over time I have learned not to get angry with movie adaptations. A bad Conan movie won’t make feel worst than a bad Conan comic-book. If it’s good, I will enjoy it. If it’s bad, I will (try to) forget it. To give you some more examples: I saw X-Men Origins the other day and found it to be an OK superhero movie. They have profoundly changed some character’s motivations and backgrounds, but I’m not worried (and I have been reading X-Men comic-books for the last 30 years) because the movie still works "per se". Same with James Bond films (and I think James Bond is a particularly good comparison, being a series of books and all). Do you think the quality of the Bond movies is related in any way to the faithfulness of the adaptations? I don’t think so.

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  61. The Bond films do tend to be better when they're more faithful to the books...

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  62. That Chema Pamundi fellow makes good sense.

    In translations of literature I have enjoyed, I would prefer the movie remained faithful. However, the two do not need to go hand in hand. (To be fair, I was mortified by the black suit in Spider-Man 3 after being incredibly excited about it).

    I just don't think the movie looks very good because the previews seem to have more in common with the new Clash of the Titans movie than anything else.

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  63. "oh, and the notion that the comics didn't faithfully adapt Howards work is ludicrous of course... "

    Just to play devil's advocate, I see where one would argue this (and have read similar arguments after de Camp's death in the REH circles) in that while Roy Thomas (especially) was as faithful a writer as one could hope, the main editorial mandate was dictated by Conan properties which was run by de Camp.

    de Camp's versions of the texts are very different than REH's and the entire Conan 'saga' as seen by de Camp was even more different.

    "Savage Sword of Conan" adapting things like "Beyond the Black River": almost perfectly faitful to REH.

    "Conan The Barbarian" spending litterally years on the 'missing' time during "Queen of the Black Coast": Lots of stuff in there didn't ring true to me and seemed very influenced by de Camp.

    "King Conan" - the entire series read like a de Camp 'edit' (at best) and a bad pastiche (at worst).

    I would argue that the Marvel Conan comics were faithful to the Ace/Lancer series. Whether or not they were faithful to Howard can be subject to fruitful debate on the subject and isn't 'ludicrous' in my opinion.

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