Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Discuss: The Conan the Barbarian Movies, Plus X-Men DoFP Clip

Doug: Of course Conan came up in Karen's Arnold Schwarzenegger post last week. There was a little sidebar that developed, so today let's delve into it further. Speak, then if you will, of the handful of depictions of the future King of Aquilonia on celluloid, and then in larger form as to whether or not faithfulness to the print media detracts from your enjoyment of these films. And hey, if Tarzan creeps stealthily into the conversation that would be OK for the latter discussion.

Doug: I saw this yesterday and thought I'd bring it over. Special effects alone, this looks pretty cool!

NOTE: This post was updated on May 7 2020. I have no idea what the original clip was I'd posted; the YouTube account that originally crafted it is no more. So have this fun scene in its place! -Doug



Anonymous said...

I never really care that much about movie versions of characters and I ignored the Conan film when it came out only seeing it on TV years later. If you know nothing about Conan the two Schwarzenegger films are okay as sword and sorcery but I've just been reading Red Nails as an e-book and I definitely didn't see Arnie as Conan in my mind while I was reading it. I was quite looking forward to the 2011 film but it was a real disappointment, Jason Momoa was much closer to what Conan should look like but he was the only good thing about it - the father and daughter villains were boring, there was far too much blood and gore and I could have done without the long "young Conan" part, REH's Conan doesn't have an origin. I saw it on DVD and the best thing was the two accompanying documentaries on REH and the history of Conan since 1933. As for Tarzan - I only know him through films and comics and I thought the Christopher Lambert version was supposed to be quite close to the original (?).

Humanbelly said...

And here's where all my cred takes a humongous- possibly fatal?- hit. I've never seen any of the Conan movies-- nope. I was a regular buyer of the comic book for about seven years (around issue #35 on up), and read most of the more-or-less chronological paperback series that came out in the late 70's or early 80's. While the Cimmerian isn't exactly onion-layered in his complexity, he still was portrayed in novels and in the comics as a pragmatic adventurer with certainly more depth of character than most of the folks he encountered. I. . . could not imagine being anything but disappointed in Arnold's trying to pull that off. (Folks that have seen it: was I correct or not?) Plus-- ARNOLD LOOKS WRONG! Conan's physical appearance is practically iconic in both novel and comic mediums-- yeesh. You know who would have been perfect, if he wasn't about 20 years too old at that point? Big, handsome Clint Walker (the ginormous Native American fellow in DIRTY DOZEN).

And. . . Brigette Nielson sporting a MULLET as Red Sonja?? R-really??

Saw the DoFP trailer at the Captain America showing, and I was surprised to find myself eager to see it. I wasn't exactly liking the idea of it at this point. . . but I was also skeptical of FIRST CLASS, and then found it to be a surprisingly good film.


William said...

I enjoyed the first original Conan movie with Arnold. For it's time it was quite an epic. Didn't much care for the second one though. I saw the new one, but I don't even remember anything about it. I must have really been impressed. lol

As for X-Men DoFP, it looks pretty cool. Definitely plan on seeing it in the theater. I'm glad Bryan Singer is back, and the story seems like an interesting way to merge the original X-Men and First Class film franchises together. Looks a little on the dark and gloomy side for my taste, (but then again the comic version was too). It's kind hard to tell too much from the previews, so we'll just have to wait and see.

William said...

BTW, when are we going to have an open discussion (with spoilers) about the new Captain America movie? I'm interested to hear everyone's unfiltered opinion and thoughts.

Doug said...

William --

Funny you should ask! The Fully Spoiled Cap post is tomorrow! Karen and I will lead with our impressions/questions about the film, and then it's all you folks in the comments section. We're looking forward to it!


Edo Bosnar said...

HB, as far as I'm concerned, you missed nothing by not seeing the Arnie Conans. And I'm not a stickler for movies or adaptations being faithful to the source material, but in this case it would have helped if Howard's pulp adventure hero concept had been used.
Like I said in that previous thread, I found the Arnie movies, especially the first, a bit bleak and also kind of melancholy. It was almost as though the producers had some pretensions to making it some kind of serious, "high concept" movie.

And yes, Arnie was a poor casting choice - he doesn't look right, and he doesn't act right. In fact, I think he would have worked better as a bad guy in a Conan film - you know, one of the beefy henchmen working for an evil wizard or decadent king or something...

As for the new X-film, that preview does look good in terms of special effects, but I'm not holding out high hopes. With the exception of First Class (good call, HB!), I've been disappointed with pretty much all of the X-movies so far.

Paul said...

I saw the original Conan movie several times when it came out. (My friends and I had a long break between classes and would often hit the matinee.) I had only read the comics and the first paperback at that time. It wasn't the Conan that I was used to, but I enjoyed it. At that time, you were lucky if any adaptation came even close to the orginal. I liked that it was rated R so that the violence inherent in the Conan story wasn't toned down. As should be evident by my contribution to the conversation about Arnold, I'm not a big fan of his. But, I accepted him in this role. It was a rollicking adventure. But just dark enough that it didn't come across as campy. However, the thing that really made the movie for me was the soundtrack. So much so, that when I think of the movie, the music is the first thing about it that comes to mind. This was one of Basil Pouledoris' greatest works.
I didn't care for the second one. The elements that had made the first one good seemed to have been sacrificed to make this one more family-friendly.
Haven't seen the new version. It's a shame that it failed, both commercially and critically. That means that the chances of Conan as a movie character (Without Arnold attached. There is development of a third film with him as the star.) seems to be gone. At least for now.

Garett said...

The first Conan movie was too bleak, the second was too light. But they were ok entertaining adventures. Arnold wasn't wild enough for Conan, with panther-like moves. I never thought about it before, but looking at your picture here, shouldn't Conan have an unshaven chest?

Dr. Oyola said...

I LOVE the first Conan movie - and it is one of the few movies I own on DVD. I have seen it countless times.

Story time. I was 10 when it came out and my older brother took me to see it, not realizing it would have sex and beheadings. He turns to me while Arnie is humping the witch-lady and says "Don't tell mom." to which I replied, "Only if we can sneak in after to see Clash of the Titans" (which was still playing across the way at another screen in the same theatre). He agreed. Great day!

Anyway, I love the bleakness of the movie. It works for me. Heck, I am gonna re-watch it tonight while my wife at her evening Spanish class! :)

Also, I think the REH stories are pretty grim as well - they are so critical of religion and civilization and everyone but Conan is a miserable untrustworthy person. So, while the movie is not like the stories, I don't see that being the bleakness being difference.

Destroyer was a terrible movie, as was Red Sonja. Never saw the more recent remake.

Dr. Oyola said...

As for X-Men: DoFP -the clip was pretty cool - the effects look better than in the earlier X-films - but I saw the trailer when I saw CA:TWS and was still unimpressed and unexcited. I am more excited for Guardians of the Galaxy.

Pat Henry said...

There was a scene in the first Conan movie where a guy on horseback tries to run Conan down. Conan charges right into the guy on horseback. That two second moment is as close to the source material as any of these movies have ever gotten.

As someone else noted, they’re still okay S&S fare. Arnold’s sequel is interesting because it has the sort of lazy self-comfort you’d expect in a Conan V or VII, not II.

As written by REH, Conan was a villainous sort. No hidden heart of gold, but you could enjoy the pure and audacious lustiness of the character.

My favorite Conan moment comes at the end of “A Witch Shall Be Born” when he hangs his enemy on a cross and remarks, “Those who offer torture are seldom able to bear it.” It’s about as close to philosophical as he ever got.

Anonymous said...

I really loved the first Conan movie when it came out. I don't think it held up as time passed, but for it's time, it was good. I think there was too much crammed into one movie.

The Jason Momoa version was a better made film. He's less bulky than Arnold and a better actor. But that's like saying I'm more mobile than a paperweight.

As with some of the others, I saw the clip during Captain America The Winter Soldier and as I stated earlier, I may actually go see this in the theatre.

The Prowler (it should be Kitty going back, not Wolverine).

Humanbelly said...

Sometime in the 80's, I think, there was a Conan knock-off barbarian film that I happened to catch (w/ my sister, maybe?) that actually captured the spirit, feel and character of the Cimmerian and his world surprisingly well-- IIRC. I don't remember a whole lot of it, other than that there was at least one scene lifted pretty blatantly from the REH's work-- the hero prevailing after being crucified, basically. I suspect it may not have been a great film, and it ended with the promise of a sequel that never happened-- but many moments of it have stuck with me.

Geeze, I wish I could remember the title. It was very much a "Conan" movie to me w/out actually being named one.

Paul's mention of Basil Pouledoris' score is smack-on. . . THAT aspect of the film I am indeed familiar with! A great score can certainly elevate a mediocre film. Pouledoris' fantastic theme for QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER is certainly another example.

Pat H, your comment about Conan's character is backed up by the later WHAT IF-? sequel story where Conan ends up in New York, and ultimately becomes a crimelord/kingpin in the underworld. It's where the guy's skill set really is.


Anonymous said...

Given the surprising quality of Game of Thrones, I think a Conan movie could work, but they gotta get away from a heavy body-builder-type dude to a better class of actor. (I realize Momoa was in GOT)
Instead of some guy that's been doing steroids and been waxed and oiled, go for a more realistic approach.
Better writing wouldn't hurt, either.

Anonymous said...

By Crom!

I thought the first Conan movie was a good attempt but it didn't ultimately capture the essence of REH's Conan. Yes, Arnie probably didn't match the image of Conan in the stories (he's supposed to be dark haired and blue eyed, two things which Mr. Schwarzenegger does not possess) but he got the job because of his big muscles. The second Conan movie was just toned down too much to make it family friendly.

Jason Momoa was a better fit for the character but he didn't get a chance to shine in an otherwise lackluster movie. If Ah-nuld, sorry, the former Governator is really serious about making a third Conan movie (King Conan?), I hope he makes an effort to give us a more world weary Conan who has seen enough bloodshed, otherwise it will just be another mindless action movie.

- Mike 'Crom and Mitra!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Karen said...

What -no one has mentioned the Conan TV series with Ralf Moeller???


It looks absolutely Cromful!

Anonymous said...

I think Hugh Jackman coulda made a pretty good Conan. He's got the height, anyway.
In the stories, Conan wasn't just a muscle-bound goon, he was actually a pretty smart guy, self-educated, he understood tactics, strategy, spoke several different languages, and was generally the smartest guy in the room. (or tomb)
Howard only wrote Conan as being stupid and primitive in the stories that chronicled his youth.
The later stories portray him as being quite smart, devious, and sophisticated, as well as having a sense of humor.
And irony.

Edo Bosnar said...

mlp, I don't agree about Jackman, but your assessment of the way Conan should be characterized is spot on.

Karen, until this moment, I never knew there was a Conan TV series. I watched part of a few clips posted on YouTube. It features yet another former bodybuilder with a German accent. Cromful doesn't even begin to cover it (in fact, I think Cromful might be considered complimentary depending on where in Hyboria you use it...)

Pat Henry said...

Karen-- I watched that Conan TV series with the German Conan. He looked pretty good for the part, but the series was pretty tame and lame. Its pacing plodded, and it did not have the wit or sizzle of Xena, upon which it was apparently modeled. Low budget shone.

The show had an ensemble cast, and at his best REH Conan is not an ensemble character. Conan does not need an ensemble—they slow him down—and he is rarely oppressed. He is rarely reflective. Most of the time his enemies are soiling themselves in terror to get the hell out of his way. That is what made him a fun character.

These were problems with the first Conan films, fixed a bit in the Mamoa film.

Anonymous said...

That dude was in "Gladiator."

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