Friday, July 3, 2015

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Conan the Barbarian (2011), dir. Marcus Nispell, Nu Images Films/Millennium Films/Paradox Entertainment

Fourteen years after Kull came and went, another attempt was made. This time it was decreed that the original flavor was what the public wanted, so it was decided that it would be Conan's sandal-ed feet to stride across the celluloid map. New star, new director, and a wholly new approach. What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Kull the Conqueror (1997)

Kull the Conqueror (1997), dir. John Nicolella, Raffaella de Laurentiis Productions/Korsala Productions

Back in the 1990's, there was am explosion of fantasy on television. While mostly in syndication, viewers could still watch Hercules, Sinbad, Robin Hood, and many more all flying around on wires. Even Conan came back, albeit with a lesser budget than the other mentioned properties.

That's when it was decreed that the time was perfect for another Conan film. Titled Conan the Conqueror, it would have been the long mentioned revealing on how Conan became a king. At least that's what was supposed to happen; thanks to changing budgets and a much larger star (Arnold had pretty much become a household word by this point) the de Laurentiis group decided to go with another Howard character. One name change later and Conan became Kull.

Who is Kull you ask? In many ways he's the prototype of Conan. He was a man of many titles; slave, pirate, warrior, and finally king. An unpublished tale in Howard's lifetime, "By this Axe I Rule", told the story of Kull. Howard also rewrote it to create "the Phoenix on the Sword", the first Conan story. So it seemed fitting that a reworked Conan script would became Kull's debut.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Red Sonja (1985)

Red Sonja (1985), dir. Richard Fleischer, Dino de Laurentiis Company.

Sometimes you can actually see the wheels falling off. After Conan the Destroyer made money, although few decent reviews, the de Laurentiis group decided to rush another film out. Rather than telling another Conan tale, they decided to focus on the first Marvel spin-off of the property, Red Sonja.

Howard's character; who first appeared in "the Shadows of the Vulture" (1934), wasn't a contemporary of Conan, however. She was a sword for hire with the name 'Red' Sonya of Rogatino who battled the armies of Suleiman the Magnificent during the 1529 Siege of Vienna. Roy Thomas and Barry Smith took the character and transported her into the Hyborian Age, as well as changing most of her back-story.

That last point was (and still is) a sore point with a few Howard scholars. The film treated Sonja much like Conan, but problems still persisted.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sir Christopher Lee, 1922-2015

It's been said with the passing of Christopher Lee we've seen the last of the old guard. Lee was the last man who worked in both the Golden Age of horror movie and Hollywood. He helped put Hammer Films on the map, and was one of the most proficient actors of almost any generation.

Frankly there's not much more I can add to this. The man's life and career have been summarized and celebrated across a dozen sites and by people far more qualified to discuss the man's life. Personally I'd recommend reading Dr. Gangrene's blog or Armagideon Time (both in the links).

I could discuss his films, his war time activities, or even his music career, but there is simply not enough room to discuss the sheer volume of the man's life. I wish I had the opportunity to have met the man. Lee was always professional. Even when the film was terrible, Lee could take any part and make it memorable.

I was going add some references to some of the roles he'd played, but I think the time would be better spent with a good toast with this in the background

God rest and keep you sir. We'll never see your like again.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Conan the Destoryer (1984)

Conan the Destroyer (1984), dir. Richard Fleischer, Dino de Laurentiis Company.

It's a forgone conclusion now, but there was a period when fantasy films didn't automatically get sequels. In the wake of Conan the Barbarian, the film market was quickly flooded with sword & sorcery films of various stripes. Some serious, some campy, although the trend towards camp quickly proved to be stronger. When a sequel was announced, one could be tempted to think it would be a story of Conan's becoming a king, as teased at the very end of the first film.

After watching this one, I can only assume someone thought: "yes, we have to do a sequel, only slash the budget and get rid of everything that worked in the first film!"

Friday, June 5, 2015

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Conan the Barbarian (1982), dir. John Milius, Dino de Laurentiis Corporation.

Looking back at the works of author Robert E. Howard, I'm honestly surprised that it took so long for someone to make a big screen adaptation. Granted, when one mentions Howard's name today you usually have to add 'Conan the Barbarian' to it or else they have no idea who you're talking about, but during Howard's lifetime he was best known for his western and boxing stories.

1970's, on the other hand, saw the revival of Howard's fantasy characters, mostly in the form of the long running Marvel comic series. This got Hollywood's attention, although Oliver Stone's first draft made the character a Mad Max rip-off for some reason. After a bit of wheeling and dealing, the story of the most famous barbarian of all came to the big screen. The 1981 Excalibur may have played a part, much as Star Wars kicked off a new wave  of sci-fi. Unlike the flood of imitators that followed, Conan played it straight.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Blade III: Trinity-or why I shouldn't write screenplays

Blade III doesn't have the best rep, although most of it is rather well deserved. That being said, if Marvel/New Line for whatever reasons decided to give me the task of writing the screenplay, and if there were no problems, here is what I have.