Monday, September 12, 2011

A Second MacGuffin?

Those of you who saw the latest version of Conan the Barbarian might find the following blog post amusing. I certainly did, especially this part:
Time to put on my mask and unleash my godlike power!

Wait! New rule! The mask doesn’t work without the blood of last surviving descendent of the kings who first made the mask a thousand years ago.

A second MacGuffin? That’s bullshit!

Did we mention this MacGuffin is a hot babe, and you get to see her boobs?

I’m going to allow it.
Like all such humor, of course it's more than a little unfair, but, equally like all such humor, there's also more than a grain of truth in it. As I said previously, the real shame about the 2011 movie is that it's just not very good. Much as I'd prefer a film that hews as closely to an actual REH story as possible, I'd be willing to accept a decent pastiche, but, alas, that's not what we got. It's even more of a shame because I think, overall, the movie, for all its manifest faults, was light years closer to Howard in its portrayal of Conan than we've seen in visual media before.


  1. Yes! For all the wonderful humor in this, "A second MacGuffin? That's bullshit!" really made me laugh the most.

    New rule!

  2. It may have been Howard's Conan, but the CGI killed it through over use.


    New Rule: CGI is a MacGuffin.

    No. I could have watched Conan crossing a Desert being chased by an Angry Honey badger.

  3. I wasn't really expecting much of the new Conan movie, to tell the truth. And I still haven't seen it -- for that reason.

    I don't think anyone's going to follow Howard all that closely and that's a disappointment. I mean, they removed Glorfindel and replaced him with Arwen, didn't they?

    The simpe truth remains, the Book is always better than the Movie.

    Sad, but true.

  4. I think the Ah-Nuld Conan did a lot more to promote Howard than this mega-turd did. May not be saying much, but at least that is something.

  5. The worst part wasn't the two MacGuffins. The worst part was that the mask was a stupid, pointless, impotent MacGuffin that DIDN'T ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING.

  6. I had never heard of that website before, but the Avatar script had me literally crying. Man, what an awful film.

    Thanks for the website!

  7. Mystic Scholar said...

    The simple truth remains, the Book is always better than the Movie.

    Hmmm... I dunno. Ever tried to read Jaws?

  8. I agree that the new Conan film had good and bad elements, but was utterly scuppered by the incoherence of the bad guy's plan. Bullshit is right. Poor old Stephen Lang...

  9. @ Jason: When the Macguffin doesnt do anything its called a red herring.

  10. I second ClawCarver... reading Jaws is really painful.

    Because I'm a bigger Tolkien geek than most carbon based life forms, one would think I'd be more perturbed than it am by the Glorfindel/Arwen thing. But i'm not. Like a lot of stuff in LotR, Glorfindel is hastily introduced, has a needlessly complicated backstory that would have been impossible to explain in film, and quickly disappears. If Tolkien had had a modern editor he would have gotten the axe 60 years ago. Instead we give his lines to Arwen, allowing us to feature our highly paid and popular actress for more than the window dressing Tolkien provides, as well as move the plot along to where we need to go before the movie ends up at 5 hours.

    Sorry for the off topic rant...
    Saw Conan, been awhile since I seen anything in the genre so I was probably influenced by the satiation of my sweet tooth for s&s flix, but I had a good time.

  11. RE: The Mask of Acheron not doing anything... giving the stor the benefit of the doubt (which really, it doesn't deserve, but hey, why not), the mask *not doing anything in combat* is actually very Howardian. The Big Mojo in Conan's day was all stuff that took a long time, concentration, stars in the right place, and really in the end, didn't much help the sorcerer at all if there was a barbarian there at that moment ready to stick a pointy thing in him.

    So really, when you think about it, Conan coming in and breaking apart the ritual even after the original activation was complete, and there Zym not being able to shoot lightning and fire from the mask, was probably the *most Howardian* thing about the movie!

    Besides, the power of the mask was apparently all in necromancy, the returning of the powerful dead back to (un)life. Not really much you can do with that in a combat situation on short notice... what made it such a powerful thing for the lords of Asheron... er, sorry, Acheron, was that no matter how many times you killed them, they always came back!

    Now that is power.

  12. "When the Macguffin doesnt do anything its called a red herring."--yellowdingo

    Maybe you call MacGuffins that don't do anything "red herrings", but the rest of the world, not so much.

  13. I'm just going to take a moment to second what Ed Dove is saying.

    I'll also point out that the requirement for the blood was laid out in the OPENING NARRATION and then reiterated within the first 10 minutes of the film. I'm not sure it actually qualifies as some sort of unexpected left turn when it's there within 15 seconds of being introduced to the mask.

  14. A Macguffin is not a Macguffin if it actually does something.

  15. "A Macguffin is not a Macguffin if it actually does something."

    I don't think that's actually true.

    While a MacGuffin doesn't have to do anything, it still can. But, in that case, it's more than just a MacGuffin, though.

    For example, in Star Wars, while the Death Star plans are the MacGuffin that drives the plot, they're also used to destroy the Death Star.