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The New Conan

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Well.

My son enjoyed it. I enjoyed a couple parts of it. But for the most part was frustrated by the film. I thought Mamoa was very good as Conan. I actually liked him better than the Govenator. The Action was good. The movie looked good, the cinematography was good. Again Mamoa and Lang were very good. Perlman was great and even Rose McGowan was very good. The kid who played young Conan was good.

It was the story. The story and dialogue just sunk like a brick.

 

I don't get why they couldn't just pick a Howard story and go with it. Why they have to try and glom on to other movies ideas and try and make a go of it. oh well.

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Thanks for the wrap-up Esco!

 

I was going to see Conan this weekend, but I ended up not doing so... and I did want to see it. I like Jason Momoa in general and thought he did a good job in Game Of Thrones - and, well, yes, I am a fan of Stargate: Atlantis, and loved his character on that show - kinda terse and prickly, action-oriented, but good heart, and he got some sly one-liners in once in a while.

 

I wonder when Conan will appear on DVD. I hope it's soon!

 

 

Jen

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I read the reports for last week's box office and Conan did a dismal $10 million and was 4th place for its opening weekend... :(

 

Even though it was on regular and 3-D screens! I was going to go this weekend, but there was that storm Irene that wreaked havoc on the East Coast...

 

 

Jen

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Just saw it. It was ok. I never thought I’d use this complaint against an action film but there was far too much action. Every five minutes there’s an action scene so you get kind of numb to the constant bloodletting. But the story is really flimsy so when it slows down for the “plot” it’s a bit of a bore.

 

However I thought Momoa was really great so I hope he goes on to bigger things. And Ron Perlman is awesome as always.

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How I would have done this Conan film.

It's been on my mind since I walked out of the film. I met the cast @ the NYCC and talked to them about the film and it just pushed the ideas to the front of my head and they won't go away. So I'm going to leave them here.

If there's still anyone who hasn't seen the film DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER. AHEAD BE SPOILERS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right from the begining it was hurting. Yeah it was cool in a macho way with the blade in the gut and pulling the kid out but no, I'd have most likely gone a traditional route.

The Village is under siege. OK. But Pearlman is maybe in front of the house while she's inside or ON the side of the house in mid escape when she goes into labor and he has to protect her. Conan is born amidst the chaos of this scene. The Mother dies and Ron takes the baby from the midwifes arms and accepts his wife's demise without all that screaming.

 

The scenes with young Conan are great until Stephen Lang's wizard arrives on his quest.

When Lang arrives I'd have had him not as the main villian but as a magical henchman of the a different insignificant warlord. NO daughter yet. Lang maybe traveling with his witch wife and together they serve their master. The two are very much in love it's obvious but also power hungry and it shows.

Young Conan see's the force mounting to attack and races through the forest to warn the village.

The men gather their weapons and head towards the bad guys. Pearlman tells Conan to remain in the village. The men leave, the remaining boys gather their weapons and prepare for if the bad guys get past the men.

Conan, sick of waiting, races through the forest. Kills a couple bad guys who have slipped through, arrives at the battle in time to see Lang kill Pearlman from afar. In Pearlman's hand when they retrieve him is a badge or medallion, some kind of macguffin, he tore from the wizard while he fell. It's nothing but a symbol. Nothing fancy or exciting. And of course Pearlman hurts the Wizard and dies spectacularly which leads to the attackers retreat.

 

Years go by. We arrive at the part where they are attacking the slave mines. Conan is not a Pirate yet. Just a sword for hire, not the head sword, not seeking revenge, just finding his way in the world. The group he is employed with attack the slave mines (what are they after? who cares? ) and though Conan kills many, they lose. Conan is enslaved.

The slave Masters have a meeting and divide up the remaining slaves and figure how they are going to salvage the mess the attack has made. The Slave Master who argues for Conan is a slimy bastard but manages to snake Conan out from under the rest who want him for various reasons. Conan is hurt and pretty beat up from the beating he took during the attack.

Conan is dragged onto a ship with a bunch of other slaves and goods and dumped into a cargo hold somewhere. The Captain of the ship makes a comment when he see's Conan. The slave master tells the Captain not to worry his two security guys have things all under control. The Captain is not so sure.

During the sea voyage a storm menaces the ship. A weakened Conan is brought onto the deck in chains to assist the crew in some way or maybe in efforts to save some cargo. One of the Captains men is in peril, a rope snaps somewhere and Conan catches it suddenly and saves the man with a massive show of strength. Again the Captain looks uneasy with the Barbarian's presence on the ship.

The next night the Captain has summoned the Slave Master to his quarters. He sits across a large desk in the Captains quarters with his two security guys on either side of him. They make uneasy small talk. The slave master has no respect for the captain and doesnt bother to hide it. The Captain asks the Slavemaster to leave his men outside, that the matter he wishes to discuss are delicate. The Security guys step into the hallway. In the hallway members of the crew are around moving to and fro, attending to various duties when suddenly the security guards realize they are surrounded. they are asked to come with them. Then The Captains men bring in Conan, whose still in chains and still visably not 100% yet. They sit him in a chair next to the slave master. The slave master is a little rattled by this and starts talking.

 

"Is that what this is about? Yes, he's strong! He'd be a fine addition to your crew, yes. Make me an offer."

The Captain looks at him and then looks at Conan cautiously, like he would look at a Lion sitting in that chair, and then speaks.

"Do you want your freedom?"

The slave master speaks up! "Whoa! Whoa! You want to set him free you still need to pay me first! You should be addressing me! What kind of business do you run here? I'm talking to you!"

"Shut up." the Captain snaps and returns his attention to Conan.

"Would you be a free man? huh?"

Conan sits with his eyes focused on the Captain. He's trying to figure the Captain out but to look at Conan, you'd think he was just simmering.

The Captain slams a dagger onto the desk looking right in Conan's eye's.

"If you want your freedom, Take it."

The slavemaster screams for his men who are attacked in the hallway by the crew the minute the scream goes out.

Conan grabs the dagger and without a seconds thought slits the slavemasters throat.

Standing, breathing heavily he eyes the Captain. The Captain orders his first mate and the two other crewmen behind Conan to find the key and unshackle him.

Conan stares at the Captain the whole time. Free of the chains he speaks.

"I know nothing of sailing."

"We could teach you. If you wish. Or drop you at the next port."

Conan simply nods and walks out of the room.

The first mate approaches the Captain.

"Free them all." The captain tells him. "Offer employment to any able bodied."

The first mate speaks up. "I know you had no love for the slavers but the money was good. I must admit to a bit of shock at your actions on their behalf."

"My actions are not on behalf of the slaves but the crew. That man is a Cimmerian. When he had gathered his strength we'd have been trapped on this ship with him. He may have killed us all."

And then a montage of Conan doing tough shit on the ship and drinking with the crew and some of the freed slaves and all's good for a bit.

Then they are pulling to a Port and Conan can see a flag flying by a slip. The symbol on the flag is familiar and he reaches into a pocket to pull out the symbol his father had long ago torn from Lang as he fell.

While slightly different it's very close. Conan tells the Captain he intends to go ashore and see the city a while and asks about the symbol. The Captain tells him it belongs to the city's Regent. Some say he's a Wizard.

Conan goes to leave and the Captain stops him and hands him a sack of gold. His pay.

 

In the city we find Lang and his daughter. The two have recently attained some artifact they needed to ressurect his wife. They had been searching a long time and now need only one last thing. The Virgin of whatever from the temple and are currently awaiting word of her whereabouts.

Lang is a bit looney. Mad with grief and desperate to be reunited with his dead wife. This part of the story from the film I'd keep with the difference being Lang and his daughter have no desire for world domination. They only want their loved one back.

And Conan kept that medallian or symbol or whatever just in case. He didnt set out to find the man who killed his father but he hoped he would, felt he might. And if he gets this close how can he turn around now? Now he's got to follow this thing out.

Conan goes into town and is making merry in a pub with a bunch of others, like in the film. The soldiers show up and are looking for the little guy. Conan hides him and the soldiers leave.

Conan and the little guy have a seat. The little guys a theif. Conan explains about his days as a theif in a far off city. the two swap stories they've heard about great heists. Conan express' interest in pulling one off himself. The little Thief throws ideas out and Conan shoots them down. He wants something bigger. Bigger. The Thief drops "...the only thing bigger in this city would be to rob the Regent. And no one is that foolish."

And Conan lights up. The thief elaborates on the stories he's heard about what lies within the walls of the Regent's palace.

Conan picks something and says "yes. That's it."

As luck would have it the Regent is heading out tomorrow on a short journey and intends to be gone a few days. If their going to do it that is when they should. Most of the Guard will be gone with the Regent.

 

So Lang goes off and captures the girl from the temple. I'd keep this pretty much the way it was but I'd get some other chick to play the chick (the girl in the film was just eh. Could have been the way she was written though but she was very pretty too. Very Hercules/Xena. I'd have gone for something a little more exotic looking. Only because there are so many white people in the film already, I"m not Joel Silvering out but c'mon.) Conan is not following or involved. He's busy breaking into the castle with the thief.

 

In the castle the thief and Conan find the usual, with one exception. No Harem. Which they both find to be weird but whatever. They find the traps and the giant snake. Conan fights a giant black guy who is guarding the prize. They get the prize, a giant jewel or something, and as they fight their way out Conan stumbles upon the artifact Lang and his daughter had searched for so long. (The mask in the film, in my version it would be something he could put in his pocket quick that just happened to catch his eye.)

 

Lang returns with his daughter and the Virgin and is psyched to get going on the resurrection until he pulls into the castle gates and see's some of the havoc Conan had left behind. Lang flies into a fury and heads straight for that little item he left behind that he needs for the resurrection, finds it gone and the brutal questioning of survivors begins.

Lang and his men then tear the city apart looking for Conan and the little theif.

They catch up with them outside of town in the ruins where the witch conjures the sand warriors. No the virgin is back at Lang's castle, not at the ruins.

With the exception of the Virgin this scene would play out the same. Lang and Rose escape with the artifact. Conan manages to escape with his life. The little thief, most likely not.

 

Conan is heading back into the City. The road is crowded with people coming and going. Peasants and others attempting to escape the Wizards wraith after the hell of the last few days, they want to get while the gettings good.

The others on the road, going in, are robed disciples of Lang's who are eager to see the spectacle of the ressurection. (yeah, a little homage to Milius) Conan gets the lowdown on what Lang's up to and picks up the pace, gets a robe and gets back in the castle.

Inside he gets right to it. He doesn't care what he gets the artifact or the girl but he wants to piss on Lang's parade, draw him out and kill him.

I guess it would be similar to the end fight scene.Conan would have to battle through what was left of Lang's guards and some robed Disciples. The final fight between Lang and Conan I'd try and spice up some of the battle show some more intensity on the part of the characters, Lang's frustration at Conan's continued interference, Conan's real deep want to kill this man who had killed his father. But I don't think I would have Conan ever tell Lang who he is or why he's doing what he's doing.

And after all the mayhem, he does.

Lang's daughter escapes, with the big black dude who was guarding the giant jewel. Maybe for the sequel.

After he kills Lang Conan drinks Ale on the steps of the Regent's castle with the virgin. She warns him that the Regents supporters are many and will be enroute here when the news spreads. He tells her they better get going....when he finishes his ale.

 

In a nutshell. That's how I would have done it. With what the movie already had to work with that is. I'd have changed some of the lighting, tried to capture some mood and atmosphere. Maybe some handheld stuff the way LOTR did when Aragorn was wandering all beat up. Of course I'd find places to sprinkle in all the Howard-isms they managed to get in there and most likely many more. I think these comments about men and the nature of civilization are what give the character his soul.

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I wanted this film to be so much better for many reasons.

It didn't hit the mark with me.

It had production value, it had a decent lead in Mamoa.

I think he could have gone a little deeper.

The script is the problem for me. Some of the lines just . . .

 

Nispel's movies look REAL nice, but as gritty as they tried to be here it still feels too new and slick for me to really be a believable Conan.

The problem for me is more in the way it was shot - and the final look of the film.

 

But yeah, script is everything and the necessary tone did not hit the mark.

It feels dumbed down, complete with one-liners.

Really was hoping it wouldn't be that.

 

They tried to play it straight but it didn't quite come across for some reason.

 

- TB

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I agree. It did have a Hercules/ Xena finish, which will take you right out of it right away. That's what Milius really delivered. An atmosphere really.

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I agree. It did have a Hercules/ Xena finish, which will take you right out of it right away. That's what Milius really delivered. An atmosphere really.

 

Yeah, even WITH a non-actor at that point in his career; with Arnold, Milius brought an undeniable authenticity that began from the word go and didn't fall off throughout the film. It began with the script and Milius followed it all the way through with the actual production.

 

There was a lot of talk about how Nispel went out of his way to bring a Frazetta vibe, I didn't really feel a Frazetta presence at all, though perhaps some of the sets had the feel especially the ones underground.

In the Milius adaptation, sure, he took liberties by adding some characters that were not part of Howard's canon, but the Frazetta vibe was evident from the start.

I always think of that shot of Conan's mother, crouched in the snow, holding the knife, right out of a Frazetta painted (even though it is not a Conan painting ;)

 

Nispel's adaptation felt like many of today's productions in that it was missing a deeper level of authenticity, propelled visually by static CGI matte paintings that looked like video game environments.

Some of that stuff looks GREAT, but not for this film. The establishing Monastery shots were just too pretty and fantastical for my taste.

They could have shot the whole thing on Malta and had some pretty genuine towns and environments that seem trapped in a lost age to begin with. A little set dressing and some grittier CGI and WHAM!

 

Still, WHERE the film was shot wasn't so much an issue. Some of the locations where very nice, it's just that those matte paintings and other CGI effects came off like too much.

Wire stunts in a Conan film? . . . NOOOOOOOOO ;)

 

Milius handled Arnold by not giving him a lot to say, and when he did have dialogue it was fairly grim fare, short and sweet.

Conan is not a talker or given to unnecessary exposition, and again, I thought Mamoa could have dug a little deeper . . . But more than that it was the dialogue.

Nothing against Marcus Nispel, I'm sure he works his tail off, I'm sure he's a good guy. Maybe he had a battle he just couldn't win with what studios expect these days.

 

If Conan had been leaner and meaner it still would have gotten those kids it was trying to impress very excited. Anything good usually does.

And it doesn't take big budget pyrotechnics to lure them, just well planned and executed action scenes, great cinematography, the right vision, AUTHENTICITY as a through-line, and a COMPELLING, GRIPPING story first and foremost.

 

For me I think it failed in the script phase, which is a bad place to start getting things wrong ;)

 

I don't hate it. I lot of people worked very hard on the production and there is some decent stuff in there, but overall it was a disappointment.

Sorry to say I never thought it really had a chance after seeing who was involved (Minus my pals at Paradox!) But I was really hoping against hope it would rise above and KILL.

 

Bummer.

Now someone needs to distribute and release Michael J. Bassett's SOLOMON KANE!

THAT is worth the dough ;)

 

- TB

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I spoke to Momoa at the NYCC and he was saying he hopes Nispel gets to release a Director's cut.

I think the studio started squeezing his balls before he got that deep into what he wanted to do. If the story stays the same it won't make any difference what he adds.

And your right about the cgi and backgrounds. Too slick, no grit.

Frazetta loved his blacks. (I mean the color!) This movie had way too much light for a Frazetta anything. Maybe the scene in the dungeon. That was dark. And yes the underground stuff at the end but even alot of that was very bright I thought for being underground.

Milius' movie had so much grit I thought I tasted dirt in the popcorn.

 

Momoa told a story about during one of the fight scenes they were shooting they finished the take and someone complained that Momoa was smiling during the take. Momoa responded "This is Conan man." Maybe Momoa was the only one who read the Howard books.

 

No, there should be no wirework in Conan. On the bluray extras they tell how Nispel fought to keep the magic to a minimum.

 

And I also think the movie had some good stuff in it, it just kept getting piled on by nonsense and non Conan stuff.

 

We are two sad Conan fans Bro.

 

Solomon Kane. Just watched it again, with my son this time, on my laptop a few weeks ago during the freak snowstorm. He loved it.

I know it wasnt a Howard story either but it was a real heartfelt attempt to capture maybe how Solomon came to be. It felt like a Howard story and yes, it had grit.

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This one missed the mark for me, it was too po-faced for my liking. It could have used some more dark humor the decapitated head bit and catapult bit.

 

I think making the scenes darker wouldn't have helped, I was having trouble making out what was going on in some scene anyway, darker would have just made it worse.

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