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Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Return of "Conan"

So, Conan the Cimmerian (or, to those who haven't read the stories, 'the barbarian') is returning to theatres (in - ugh - 3D, no less) this August 12. I just posted the video for the trailer below.
I'm not sure how I feel about it.
Don't get me wrong - I am a huge fan of both the Conan stories, and their author, Robert E. Howard. I've read every story, some of them multiple times. You can find links to the most recent collections of the Conan stories and novels below.
(This is, incidentally, the 105th anniversary of Howard's birth. FYI).
It's not so much the fact that Conan is getting a new movie (I'm not sure whether to call it a "remake" or a "reboot" of the franchise made famous in the '80s by a certain Arnold Schwarzenegger). It's just that, when it comes to Robert E. Howard, nobody ever seems to get his characters right.
Case in point: In 1982, the excellent "Conan the Barbarian," starring Arnold, came out. That, unfortunately, was followed up by the less-than-excellent "Conan the Destroyer," starring Arnold, Grace Jones, Wilt Chamberlain, and others. It ended up being like a D&D session gone wrong (and not a cleric in the party!).
Case in point: in the mid-1990s, we had "Kull The Conqueror," starring - unfortunately - Kevin "Hercules" Sorbo as a very dim-witted version of Kull. It didn't do well.
Case in point: In the mid-1990s, there were a couple of Conan cartoons. Didn't do much.
Case in point: in 2009, a big-screen adaptation of Howard's Solomon Kane stories, starring the excellent James Purefoy and Max Von Sydow, was made - but never got an American theatrical release. (See the trailer HERE).
Fast forward to 2011, and now we have an upcoming Conan film. From the trailer, the production values seem to be excellent, thought I'm hard-pressed to pick out any actors or note or name. That's not necessarily a bad thing, mind you.
The thing is, I'm just a little nervous that when Hollywood thinks "Conan" they think "shirtless guy with sword and long hair" and don't think much beyond that. Bleedingcoolnews not long ago derided the trailer as looking like a "Scorpion King" knockoff, and they're not wrong.
I don't want to pass judgement on this film as yet. I will go see it, and I'll post my thoughts and musings afterwards. I at least want to show support for one of the greatest creations in fantasy literature. Conan the Cimmerian gets little enough notice these days as it is.
Conan deserves that much.

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