Thursday, October 25, 2012

Oh no ...!

If the latest news from Hollywood is to be believed, there are plans to release another Conan movie in 2014 -- in which Arnold Schwarzenegger will reprise his role as the Cimmerian. Much as I was disappointed by the 2011 reboot of the movie series, the last thing I wanted to see was Arnie return to play Conan for a third time, especially at age 65.

The unwelcome truth that, whatever limited virtues the 1982 movie has, it's not exactly crying out for a sequel, certainly not more than three decades later. It's also disappointing that, in 2012, after the strides made in the literary re-appraisal of Robert E. Howard's work and after we've seen decent, if not 100% faithful, adaptations of beloved works of fantasy, we hear Frederik Malmberg, the man whose company owns the rights to the character of Conan, say the following of this upcoming film:
“The original ended with Arnold on the throne as a seasoned warrior, and this is the take of the film we will make,” Malmberg told me. “It’s that Nordic Viking mythic guy who has played the role of king, warrior, soldier and mercenary, and who has bedded more women than anyone, nearing the last cycle of his life. He knows he’ll be going to Valhalla, and wants to go out with a good battle.”
Perhaps he's speaking metaphorically here, with "Nordic Viking" and "Valhalla" being mere shorthand, but, even so, it doesn't exactly bode well for the authenticity of this project -- not that that has ever been a concern of Schwarzenegger's Conan efforts. I suppose we can hope that, like so many Hollywood pictures, this one winds up in development hell and never sees the light of day.

45 comments:

  1. This movie actually sounds like everything I want out of a Conan movie. But I see Arnold Conan as the equivalent to universal Frankenstein, nothing like the original source material but still awesome.

    Valhalla would seem to fit pretty well, his late girlfriend ended up a Valkyrie in the last movie.

    We are a lover of games featuring blatant rip-offs of Tolkien, Howard, Lovecraft, Vance and Moorecock mushed together into a substance that really does none of them service but creates its own enduring thing.

    I am stoked for this movie!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll see it only if John Milus would direct it. At least he took the material and character seriously.

    That will never happen so I will never see it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If this is talking about Conan's reign as king of Aquilonia (in, for example, the Scarlet Citadel), Schwarzenegger isn't TOO much older, particularly with make-up...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree, Milius must be involved. MUST. But I would not rule it out, as he was interested in doing just that right before Arnold went into politics. It almost happened, it could happen again.

    And James, this film would be what those of us who like the original have waited for, a cap on the Arnold thing, promised by the scene of him sitting on his throne. Don't deny us the chance, just smile and nod, realizing that if this comes to pass the "Arnold IS Conan" days will be finally over for good, and they can start fresh and perhaps do it really, truly right.

    The comments about it being a "Nordic Viking" thing are not off base with what Milius did, by the way. Watch the commentary track to the film and he refers to Valkyries and the whole bit. Was it Howard's Conan? No. But it WAS a distinct artistic vision by a filmmaker, which we almost never see in genre stuff these days.



    I know you'd rather see a direct imitation of Howard, but even that would have to have some input from the people making it, and therefore be less "pure." I would also like to see a film that is a direct adaptation of a REH story, but I do not deny that sometimes, rarely, a filmmaker has a vision that is really cool. Milus had that. I'd like to see if he can do it again and finish off the saga he started in his other film.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I absolutely agree with you. Although, admittedly, after King Conan finally has his day, I would love to see a reboot of the character on screens with an actual REH-accurate film story.

    ReplyDelete
  6. As I stated elsewhere, I'd love to see this happen if John Milius were to direct again. But don't worry, James... in the movie news business these things have a way of not happening a startlingly often amount of the time, and my guess is that this project will fall by the wayside with no one to put up the money to make it happen (the last Conan bombed, and Arnold's star has faded). Until it is given the green light and production officially begins, don't worry about it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We're putting the band back together!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love the original. Definitely one of the most literate fantasy movie out there. Can you think of another that smuggles in quotes and stories of Genghis Khan and Hassan-i-Sabah? It may not have been "Conan" but that doesn't make it "not great". Like others, I would love to see a Milius reprisal. Who cares about Arny? He's just an actor.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I guess it would be too much too ask of Hollywood to try for a faithful adaptation of Hour of the Dragon.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Man, what a slap in the face to Jason Morma! Not only is he not going to be in it, but one of the producers was involved in last years reboot. As for Milius, it doesn't sound like he's going to be involved as it seems their going with a story from another writer who so happens to be one of the co-producers as well. That said,to see Arnold back as an older King Conan really could work if the script is good, but the director they pick is going to be equally important if not more.

    ReplyDelete
  11. My initial reaction was the same as James: whatever Schwarzenegger once had, it's gone. The project sounds like a cynical cash-grab by people who don't have any respect for the character or the source material.


    However, there are other outlets that have much more interesting and promising quotes from the producers. Some quote them as calling this "Conan's 'Unforgiven'", which sounds self-aware and actually kind of interesting. There's also this quote from producer Chris Morgan: “After the original seminal movie, all that came after looked silly to me... Robert E. Howard’s mythology and some great philosophy from Nietzsche to Atilla the Hun was layered in the original film. People say, he didn’t speak for the first 20 minutes of the film, but that was calculated in depicting this man who takes control of life with his own hand. This movie picks up Conan where Arnold is now in his life, and we will be able to use the fact that he has aged in this story. I love the property of Conan so much that I wouldn’t touch it unless we came up with something worthy. We think this is a worthy successor to the original film.”


    With all of that, and the rumours about Milius coming back to write/direct... well, I'm not completely horrified anymore. But I'm not getting my hopes up either.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I wish Basil Poledouris could have live long enough to participate... his involvement would have gotten me to the theater for this regardless of any other factor.

    ReplyDelete
  13. My wife and I love the original. It's both literate and fun at the same time. It's not "pure Howard" but it does its own thing with remarkable aplomb. *If* the new one is directed by Milius, then I'm into it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I for one hope he goes to 70s New York and becomes a gang leader.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I for one hope it's based on the 'What If's where he goes to 1970s New York and becomes a gang leader.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hour of the Dragon. How COOL would that be?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Heh. I know we would disagree on this James, but for all its inauthenticity, I think Schwarzenegger's Conan the Barbarian is a great film, so I'm interested in seeing if this goes anywhere.

    Then again, I was all for the rumoured Clint Eastwood Batman movie, so what do I know?

    ReplyDelete
  18. I think that Arnold is a good choice.

    He has always been conan to me, so why not if the story is working.

    But hey, I always loved the Cohen the Barbarian stories of Terry Pratchett, too.

    ReplyDelete
  19. To quote the catchphrase of another film franchise that stretched on for a sequel/ prequel (or three...) too many:


    "I've got a bad feeling about this..."

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank goodness the last Conan bombed. I saw it just a few months ago and switched it off part way through. It was hideous. I'm glad I only paid a pittance for it from a charity shop!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Cool and easy and it would make sense...which is EXACTLY why Hollywood won't do it.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I think there is room for a very interesting take if they adopt one of the stories about the older "King Conan." If we are lucky, the failure of the last one combined with the LotR/GoT/Avengers trend of sticking closely to the source material will encourage them to really get it right this time.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I don't understand why people find the first Conan movie to be such an awful adaptation of Howard's character (though it is not a great one either). Yes the story is changed but some of the basics of the character are there: we see him as a both a warrior and a thief, the serpent tower was similar to the tower of the elephant (and also had a good swords & sorcery feel), low fantasy not that much magic, sword & sandal look and to top it off he doesn't save the world by the end of the movie. Yes he killed the cult leader but as far as I remember, they weren't about to summon a gigantic serpent that would destroy all life.


    I mean I think that the first movie is a light years closer to Howard's work than the latest one.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The original 1982 "Conan" movie rekindled my interest in AD&D as a junior high school kid, and spurred me to seek out a few of the 1960s paperbacks in a local used bookstore as well. I was never a huge fan of Howard's "Conan" stories. But I liked what I read. The 1982 movie (and its sequel) may not've been faithful adaptations of the source material, but I still enjoy the 1982 film as a stand-alone adventure movie. If I see it on TV, I almost always stop to watch it, at least until the next commercial.

    I didn't much like the 1984 sequel, "Conan the Destroyer," the one with Wilt Chamberlain. But that ending, where Conan is king and his crown rests "on a troubled brow" really thrilled me as a kid with its possibilities. And now that Schwarzenegger has been Governor of California (and somewhat humbled by what was, at best, a mixed track record of success), and now divorced and publicly humiliated by revelations of a sordid affair with a middle aged, round faced maid, I think that at least 'the idea' of doing a sequel with Schwarzenegger, picking up from there, has at least the inherent possibility of being his "Unforgiven."

    (But then again, I thought the same thing about Mel Gibson and "Mad Max 4: Fury Road." So my opinion in this regard should probably be taken with a grain of salt.)

    ReplyDelete
  25. As far as I can tell there were only 2 sets (dungeon invaders & the siege) -- the third, listed as the dragon's lair somewhere, was either a combined set of both or just a part of the dungeon set. I posted some more pics and link to pics of the figures for the curious/nostalgic at my blog a couple of years ago :
    http://mikemonaco.wordpress.com/tag/mpc/


    FWIW at least on former Grenadier employee heard that TSR let MPC copy the minis without telling/asking Grenadier, and this was part of the communication breakdown that led to Grenadier & TSR parting ways and the AD&D license going in-house and then to Citadel.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Well if they film it in 3D that'll give me 4 reasons to pass this by. Why can't Hollywood atone itself like they did with Judge Dredd?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Crom laughs at your authenticity. The original material is great, the first film is great, the soundtrack is classic, and the next two films sucked. Especially CtD. If this film does ever transcend the bowels of development hades, it will probably suck as well, but who knows.

    ReplyDelete
  28. That thing last year was unwatchably bad. I suspect this King Conan with Arnie will be an entertaining movie, even if not a faithful 'Conan' movie.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Aye, agree strongly!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Curious if there is a disconnect in some in the OSR community between the love for personal takes, house rules and convenient adaptations of established games and the apparent demand for 100% faithful adaptations of fantasy novels in movies?

    Mess with D&D/AD&D all you like but nothing less than pure, doctrinal faithfulness to Howard/Tolkien/Burroughs' written word will do?

    ReplyDelete
  31. You are obviously absolutely right :(

    ReplyDelete
  32. I think of the people in Conan stories, including Conan himself, talking in a very 'stagey' way, rather like Gandalf in the LotR films. So yeah, actors.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Christian de la RosaOctober 27, 2012 at 7:28 AM

    Milius' original King Conan treatment seemed pretty cool though: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/10000



    And although the latest Conan flick wasn't all that good (or Howardian), I do think that Jason Momoa made a decent Conan.


    [Fancasting] If King Conan ever got made: Arnold as king Conan - Jason Momoa as prince Kon. :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. I loved the first movie, would give a sequel a shake. Don't have a real interest in seeing a faithful to Howard adaptation of Conan.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Wrong comment thread for this post... but GREAT link! Thanks for that!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I don't see the disconnect at all: D&D/AD&D are games made for people to play. It's by definition a collaborative thing that practically encourages the personal touch. Literature is the individual creation of an author. I don't know how you can't see the difference.

    ReplyDelete
  37. How about the fact that Conan in the film is almost completely dominated and shaped by things happening to him? He becomes strong because he is enslaved and forced to push a wheel for decades. He becomes a great warrior because he gets forced into pit-fighting, and must either fight or die. He learns poetry and philosophy because it was thrown into his cage to keep him amused between fights. He learns the ways of love because he's put to stud with female slaves. He learns strategy by reciting a bunch of military maxims while in chains. When he's freed, his master has to physically push him away.

    It's the absolute antithesis of Howard's character, who became who he was through his own agency: everything he did, he learned because he wanted to, not because of things happening to him. Milius' Conan was moulded by circumstance: Howard's Conan moulded himself.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Not sure if I agree that Conan's the *least* interesting aspect of the stories: often it's his worldview that offers some of the coolest moments. But by the same token, I definitely agree that there's so much more to the stories than the main character.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Isn't film especially open to collaboration and the personal touch? You're taking the work of an author, typically re-written by a movie-writer or five, interpreted by actors through the vision of a director and producer and viewed by an audience with their own opinions and interpretations. How is that not collaborative?

    ReplyDelete
  40. Gotta agree with Zzarchov. I quite enjoyed the original films,and this sounds as though it could be a great return to that franchise.



    I can understand how those who are fans of Howard's works would find an unfaithful adaptation frustrating. Having never read the original Conan stories, I cannot judge based on that criteria. But taken by themselves, the old Conan films were fun as hell, and it sounds as though this has the potential to be fun as well.

    ReplyDelete
  41. You make a good argument taranaich. I had never thought about it that way. Though I still think Milius' Conan story is the mainstream adaptation who is the closest to the source (compared to comics, cartoons, new movie, etc...)

    ReplyDelete
  42. One thing I find amusing is that all of us here seem to implicitly understand that the title of the movie has simply got to be "King Conan". But that's not the current working title, it's "Legend of Conan".

    ReplyDelete
  43. " Ignore All Conan Stories Not Written By Howard and Howard Alone"


    Oh I dunno. Robert Jordan did fine. (ob.disc. I am *not* a Wheel Of Time fanboy.) Might be able to use Jordan's Conan stories.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Conan mentioned Valhalla in "Conan the Barbarian":

    "If I die, I have to go before him, and he will ask me, 'What is the
    riddle of steel?' If I don't know it, he will cast me out of Valhalla
    and laugh at me. That's Crom, strong on his mountain!"

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.