So once again we have survived.

Conan the Barbarian Fake 3D (2011)

tn_conan11According to internet custom, a CONAN review has to start with 2-4 paragraphs about Robert E. Howard and/or Conan comics from the ’80s. Well I can’t do it ’cause I never read a word that guy wrote, unless you count the titles. I never even saw that movie where Vincent D’Onofrio plays him and he’s in love with Renee Zelweger.

Some day I’ll read some of his stories and still not watch that movie but for now my connection to Conan is that it’s an all-time classic Arnold Schwarzenegger/John Milius movie and a not-as-good sequel. I knew this new one had no chance of competing with that and wasn’t really a remake other than of the logo. So I just hoped for something better than KULL THE CONQUEROR.

perlman-nispelI thought Kull was supposed to be Conan’s pops or something, but I guess that’s Corin. Ron Perlman plays Corin as a rugged viking type, or possibly as an autobiographical character for director Marcus Nispel (various unconscionable remakes, PATHFINDER). We see Corin in a nice prologue about Conan’s birth in battle: his pregnant mother has been fatally wounded, and being Conan’s mom she’s a tough lady, so she says fuck it, cut me open so I can see this fuckin thing I’ve been carting around all these months. So Corin gives her a c-section by sword. My favorite touch in this scene is that instead of giving her a stick or something to bite down on he gives her his own hand. That’s how they fuckin do it in Cimmeria, all right? So the movie had my interest. Any movie that starts with Ron Perlman holding up a fucked up lump of baby LION KING style in the middle of a battlefield can’t be written off immediately.

By the way, if you're wondering how it's pronounced, the mom said it like it rhymes with Rodan, but Conan himself says it like it rhymes with bonin'. So if you're ever in a situation where you have to say his name in front of him, I don't know what to tell you. Be careful.
By the way, if you’re wondering how it’s pronounced, the mom said it like it rhymes with Rodan, but Conan himself says it like it rhymes with bonin’. So if you’re ever in a situation where you have to say his name in front of him, I don’t know what to tell you. Be careful.

As a Barbarian youth, Conan practices his sword hard and wants to prove himself, but Corin is so skeptical he almost doesn’t let the kid enter the traditional race the young men have where first prize is to be allowed to go to war. When li’l Conan not only (SPOILER) wins the race but returns holding the severed heads of three attackers it’s almost too much, even Corin seems creeped out by it. His son is truly a barbarian among Barbarians.

He’s proven himself, but life is not all strawberries and forging swords. All fantasy movie heroes have to have their villages burned down and their parents killed. That’s just how it works. Doing the honors this time is some wizard guy called Khalar Zym (played by Stephen Lang, Colonel Quaritch from AVATAR, although I didn’t realize that until looking it up just now). He’s been traveling around the world collecting a bunch of bones from a magic mask that was divided up among– well, it’s a long story that Morgan Freeman narrates at the beginning and that somebody else narrates at the beginning of the first LORD OF THE RINGS but with rings instead of bones. Long story short: kill Corin, magic mask, turn into god, etc.

Li’l Conan does what he can to try to save his old man, including chopping some guy’s nose off and making the guy yell “My nose!” like a Gino Felino victim. Zym says “This is your son? I like him!”

Probly shouldn’t have let him live, though, ’cause Conan grows up traveling around Hyboria (I think it’s called), experimenting with banditry, maturing into musclebound Jason Momoa and searching for the prick who killed his father. And not just to make him apologize, in my opinion. We come across Conan and his buddy Artus (Nonso Anozie) as they’re attacking a caravan and freeing their slaves (a bunch of beautiful topless girls in cages). The slaves are ungrateful like What, you’re gonna leave us out here in the middle of nowhere? so Conan laughs and next thing you know it’s a Barbarian party cruise, Conan and a bunch of naked women taking his boat to all the hot drinking ports. What I’m saying is Conan lives a pretty good life, all things considered. At least between adventures, in the off season or whatever.

I like all that stuff. Once the plot gets going, that part’s more of a blur to me. The action scenes are typical of Nispel – messy and uninvolving, not absolutely horrendous but not good. A couple of times he uses the dreaded blur-o-vision vibrocam, an especially boneheaded choice in a 3D movie.

At least there’s some color in this one. It’s not all grey like PATHFINDER. I wonder why he didn’t use Daniel Pearl, the cinematographer from the original TEXAS CHAIN SAW who did his previous movies? This time he uses Thomas Kloss, whose last feature film was SHOWTIME starring Eddie Murphy. I mean he did fine, better than most of the CONAN rip-offs in the ’80s I guess. But I think if you’re doing one now it would be a good time to do, like, a way better job, instead of just better. I don’t know.

By the way, real imaginative getting Morgan Freeman as the narrator, guys. That’s what I call thinking inside the box with about two or three extra layers of box around the original box to make sure that none of your thinking leaks outside of the box at all because that would be bad. I would’ve got Busta Rhymes.

The heart of the story seems like it should be Conan’s relationship with Tamara (Rachel Nichols from GI JOE and P2), a pure blood princess or something that he rescues because Zym needs her to make that magic mask work (yeah, he’s not a god yet, turns out he’s been working on this project longer than Conan’s been working on revenge). There’s some funny princess-and-the-barbarian interaction at first. They have different ideas of etiquette in their cultures, so she’s surprised, for example, when it’s time to dismount so he says “Get off” and shoves her off his horse. In her culture he’d have to throw a “m’lady” in there. Later he says she’s dressed like a harlot, she tries to score points with modern audiences by saying he only knows prostitutes, implying he comes from a tribe of woman-haters. But he wins that battle by explaining that Cimmerian women dress as warriors. He was calling her a sissy, not a ho.

This could be a good buddy movie type relationship if they kept playing with the contrast between the two, but she kind of lets it go and becomes more of a generic princess in distress. On the positive side she’s not a total whiner, and also they don’t make her do a bunch of sword fights just to make it seem modern.

conan-starwarsThe other major female character is Zym’s weirdo daughter Marique, a sorceress and PHANTOM MENACE costume enthusiast played by Rose MacGowan. I didn’t really like the way she did the character, but at least she seems like she’s having fun, I guess. She can identify people’s lineage by smelling their blood. Those skills would probly come in handy in the modern world if she was a crime scene investigator or something. Instead she uses it to help her dad do a sacrifice so that the mask can attach to him, and something about raising their mother from the dead or something. I forget what happened with all that. I don’t think they pulled it off.

I do remember that Zym told Conan “I don’t like you anymore” and I questioned how he remembered that line that he said like 25 years ago or how he expected Conan to remember it. Unless he didn’t and it was a private joke between him and the audience. I don’t know. I guess I don’t care.

Momoa is pretty good and has a pretty cool looking scar over one eye. He’s kind of charming and slightly sinister, the hero who enjoys shedding blood a little too much for you to be comfortable with him. He’s maybe not different enough from Schwarzenegger to avoid comparisons, but he’s a good character. I would’ve liked seeing him in more, better-directed adventures. (yeah yeah yeah, HBO show, I know. Leave me alone, throneys.)

This is kindy of a shitty movie, kind of dull, but okay. I like some of the cast, some of the story, there are plenty of parts I liked and reasons I wanted to like it. He does a good move on the guy whose nose he cut off, he smacks a horse with a giant chain, he fights a squid, etc. But it’s not great storytelling like the original and not some insane new take on it either. I wish they’d hired a better director like maybe Alexandre Aja or somebody to do it. Or even if they had gotten Brett Ratner like they tried to, he might’ve done it a little better. But I guess not that much better, unless he convinced Chris Tucker to be in it as Thulsa Dume. But that probly wouldn’t’ve happened, so I shouldn’t stress about it, in my opinion.

As for the fake 3D (done with computer mockups instead of actually shooting at two angles like somebody who was trying to do a good job) it looks more dimensional than GREEN HORNET or HARRY POTTER, so it’s not the worst I’ve seen. But it’s comically unconvincing at times. Yes, it looks like a series of flat planes set up like cardboard cutouts, but also it keeps having distracting protrusions –why is the hilt of Conan’s sword sticking out so far? Why is the ground shifting underneath Conan’s feet? I think there were 4 different scenes where I found myself staring at some character’s nose, because that was the only part they made stick out noticeably. This must be what everybody was complaining about with CLASH OF THE TITANS.

I blew it, too, because I could’ve seen it in 2D but the listings were wrong. Mistakenly convinced it wasn’t playing 2D downtown I quizzed Drew McWeeny about how bad it was. He told me “It looks like View Master 3D as utilized by Nazi War Criminals.” Obviously that should be on the poster and obviously it convinced me to give in and see it that way. He said it was a very aggressive, poking at you type of 3D, which he meant as a criticism but it sounds like the type of 3D I prefer. Unfortunately, I didn’t agree that this was that.

Some directors intentionally use this shitty post-production fake 3D instead of the real deal. Joe Johnston, who shamed our democracy and The Greatest Generation by releasing CAPTAIN AMERICA in fake 3D, explained how he rationalized it to himself after testing out actual 3D:

“The cameras and their necessary hard and software made up one of the most cumbersome and unwieldly packages I’ve ever had the misfortune to work with. I couldn’t move the camera at a high rate of speed, I couldn’t fit it through tight spaces, lens changes took 45 minutes…if the two lenses weren’t perfectly calibrated to the exact same focal plane, the shot was unwatchable…”

Okay, fair enough. It’s hard to do. But maybe instead of weighing “do we do the hard work of using those big cameras, or do we do shitty fake 3D?” you should be weighing “do we do the hard work of using those big cameras, or do we not do it in 3D?”

He continues:

“It’s harder to fast cut an action sequence because your eye needs time to re-establish the depth of each shot…”

So, what, you did the fast cuts that look bad in 3D, but it’s okay because your 3D looks bad anyway? I think that is what he’s arguing because later in the interview he says:

“I find that after 20 minutes, I forget I’m watching 3D anyway.”

So that kills my theory that they’ve been shown some impressive tests but haven’t actually sat through a movie done up like this. No, they have, they just figure it’s supposed to look bad.

I don’t know how long Hollywood is gonna hang on to this, but it’s ridiculous. They fucked up. They shat where they ate. If they’d saved 3D for the movies where the filmatists really believed in it and were willing to expend effort and created something the audience could see in actual 3D then I don’t think there’d be such a backlash against it. Most of the movies released in 3D this summer did better in 2D, so it’s not gonna inflate their box office anymore. Eventually they’re gonna have to abandon it or, like, do a good job.

* * *

So anyway, the big question is if CONAN THE BARBARIAN FAKE 3D 2011 met my standards or not. Was it better than KULL THE CONQUEROR?

Well, the problem is I don’t know, I don’t remember KULL THE CONQUEROR that well. I’m gonna have to watch it again. I can say that this CONAN, while not as good as the original classic, or the silly sequel, or WOLFHOUND from a couple years ago, or BEASTMASTER, is honestly better than most of the sword and sorcery movies from the ’80s that I’ve seen. Most of those are just as muddled but way less exciting. This is probly above average for the genre, in all fairness.

But you know what? We’re civilized. We’re not Barbarians. We can do better than above average. Let’s do an actual good one next time.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, August 21st, 2011 at 10:58 pm and is filed under Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

138 Responses to “Conan the Barbarian Fake 3D (2011)”

  1. There are two words that explain why this should not be seen. Ever. By Anyone.

    Marcus Nispel.

    Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the only film other than Showgirls that made me come out and want to take a shower.

    Friday the 13th completely missed the point.

    Pathfinder was a clusterfuck the size of the Debbie does Dallas 3 climax.

    I really wish this had gone to Zach Snyder, or alternately someone talented.

    Also. Game of Thrones, while kicking more ass than John McClane in a hip-hop bar, is in no way way comparable to Conan. It is all about the story, not the violence and mayhem: indeed – the best parts seem likely to be left out due to budget…

  2. I cannot believe you liked this movie. It was one of the worst things I have seen in years. None of it made any sense. None of the plot connects. They fight the bad guy…then just run away…then pirates attack the boat for no reason…then the entire crew just cheers loudly and the scene abruptly cuts to something totally unrelated.

    Later, they show up in the dungeon and fight the squid, but what was up with the guy guarding the squid. He was just, what? hanging out in this weird torture chamber that seems like it was built only to justify a fight someday with someone like Conan. Also, notice how the squid doesn’t attack until the exact moment the plot requires it. And then it never comes up again.

    And then, when the bad guy does become a god, his only power is to scream loudly and wear a silly hat that looks like a starfishes asshole.

    I did appreciate some of the costume design. I could identify a few different Native American tribes and the Numa tribe from Africa, here represented as sand warriors ala The Mummy.

  3. Darth:

    “Also. Game of Thrones, while kicking more ass than John McClane in a hip-hop bar, is in no way way comparable to Conan. It is all about the story, not the violence and mayhem: indeed – the best parts seem likely to be left out due to budget…”

    What does this paragraph mean. I read it 4 times and I’m still confused.

  4. Okay Vern, I break down; Are your “in my opinion”s an unconscious homage to Joe-Bob Briggs’s “if you know what I mean, and I think you do”s?

  5. It takes a lot to convince me to not see a potentially badass film of cinema. Goddamn, I watch a lot of bad movies. And I enjoy them, if only for the hope that at least one scene will make it all worth it.
    I subjected myself to that shitty PRIEST 3D movie a few months ago and felt embarrassed for the other ticketbuyers & myself until the last 15 minutes, when some cool shit happened and redeemed the whole experience of that afternoon. I beg for decent entertainment & stimulation, and when I’m disappointed, when the gods ignore my pleas, I find that I’m a forgiving, open-minded motherfucker, a blind adherent & faithful spectator, a consumer more than a critic.

    A kind of despair has largely soured the favorite activity of my soon to be drinking buddy Mr. Majestyk, and I wish not to fall into that same pit. I too like movies more than I like people, but the realm of new theatrical releases is suffering from weekly infusions of garbage & laziness that threaten to debase cinema to the level of live humanity, I fear. When I’d rather use my precious free time away from work to go shopping with a ladyfriend than to see the new Conan movie, there’s a fuckin problem.

    I had an interest in this one, what with the R-ratedness & the high adventure & swords & magic and all, and that damn Ron Perlman pic looks like fun, but too many people have told me CONAN 2011 sucks. The director’s cv is a major deterrent.

    What is best in life?
    Crushing enemies and hearing women lamentate is pretty good, yeah, but I’d say John Milius, circa 1982 — that’s what’s best in life, and that’s what we need more of now.

  6. Yeah, what kind of fucking bonehead would knowingly film their action scenes with the vibrocam three inches from each character’s chest, when THEY KNOW it’s going to be fake 3D’ified?

    You’d have to be so INCREDIBLY STUPID. Or perhaps he simply knows he’s incapable of filming the action scenes competently, so he has no choice but to get a bunch of shaky-cam coverage, the occasional wide master shot (I hope?) and then get the editor to hack some shit together.

    Vern – I think you said it right in your Pathfinder review. It’s not a film, it’s a series of events that run in sequence.

    What is it that elevates film’s into a coherent whole though exactly? A great script. A good editor. Good structure. Etc… I guess a director either has the ability to hold all these elements together to form a good film or they don’t.

  7. I will admit to savoring some complicated German-language-only emotions about this one’s failure.

  8. Sounds like Nispel did an uninvolved work-for-hire job.

    What made the Arnold version great was John Milius, and his unique brand of crazy vision. A story about a man in a world where only the strong survive and deserve to live. It’s a grim, unforgiving tale told with absolute conviction. And the whole thing is marinated in equally primal and bombastic Basil Poledouris score.

    I don’t know if Milius poured his personal worldview into the movie or not, but I doubt we’d get to see a blockbuster film about a Nietzschean superman hacking people up these days.

    But I’d settle for a strong directorial vision. Any vision. Do something interesting with the character and have the conviction to see it all the way through. Not this generic, flavorless adventure crap. I absolutely detest by the numbers filmmaking that isn’t about anything but only to fill a running time with a product you can sell.

  9. Tawdry- The plot is basically just a videogame plot, “Conan reaches level 4, THE SEA BATTLE, Conan beats the Sea boss, Conan meets Said Taghmaoui to unlock the bonus stage, THE UNNECESSARY FORTRESS, Conan beats the Fortress boss, Conan reaches the final level, THE CAVE, etc”, but it’s not really nonsensical, it’s just extremely simplistic and unimaginative. The dudes who attack Conan’s ship, for example, are not pirates who attack for no reason, they’re some of Khalar Zym’s henchmen trying to get the girl back.
    It’s still pretty sad that Nispel didn’t try harder to do a good job at telling such a simple story, but I think the crappy action scenes hurt the movie much more than the plot being just “CONAN: THE GAME: THE MOVIE”.

  10. @Tawdry – Vern mentioned GoT would be a better format. I was pointing out GoT is not exactly action-heavy, but is driven by the story, and the cool Conan-style stuff all happens off-camera, likely due to budget.

    Any show where the favorite character is an alcoholic dwarf is probably not going to be comparable to Conan.

    Also, I mixed up John McClane and Joe Hallenbeck. My bad.

  11. I actually kind of liked the 3D in Captain America.

  12. WOLFHOUND! Man, I gotta rewatch that one again. Bat sidekick for the win!

  13. The only point of seeing a 3D movie is if they film it in 3D and spend more time throwing shit at you then trying to make the 3D look realistic.

  14. Darth: McClane also expressed his disdain for hip-hop when Argyle played Run-DMC’s stone classic “Christmas In Hollis” in the limo. So your story checks out.

    Mouth: I don’t to give the impression that the thrill is entirely gone. There are now just a lot of security checkpoints between me and the unencumbered joy of the cinematic experience. I can still get there, though. Why, just last week I saw 5INAL DE5TINATION 5IVE: PART 5IVE IN 5D and had a blast. I laughed and “Oh shit!”-ted and had nary a thought in my head, except “What’s up with all the flip phones?” and even that was explained in the end.

    Perhaps we should go see something while you’re in town and you can help drag out my inner child. Probably using a chokehold or an arm bar something.

  15. Perhaps this?

    http://www.fandango.com/5daysofwar_146290/movieoverview?date=8/24/2011

    In case you don’t feel like reading the fine print, this is a Renny Harlin joint co-starring Val Kilmer financed by the Georgian government. Because it’s classy.

  16. I was thinking about hitting up the SlutWalk fundraiser happy hour at ReBar in Brooklyn on Wednesday, but seeing the new Renny Harlin movie is probably an equally good cause.

    No way it’ll be as good as MINDHUNTERS, though.

  17. You’re in town for a week, right? We’ll find time for both. If we can’t have both sluts and ‘splosions, the terrorists win.

  18. 5AL DE5STINATION is tied with MIDNIGHT IN PARIS as the best comedy of 2011.

    Now there’s a 3D movie that knows how to show people getting run through with metal objects. Nispel could learn some things.

  19. They should remake Jaws3D, only do it in 2D. But keep the name and charge $3 less.

  20. I the terrorists might also win if you get exploding sluts.

  21. No way. I’ve seen FRANKENHOOKER. Exploding sluts are just good, clean, all-American fun.

  22. You can’t expect a lowly, filthy German to understand these things.

  23. Hawk the fucking Slayer.

    The pinnacle of 80’s fantasy.

  24. Oh, sorry. You guys were discussing sluts. Please continue.

  25. Are they remaking Back to the Future?

    http://havetheyremadebacktothefutureyet.com/

  26. I’ve said it in these comments before, but it bears repeating: I read several drafts of the script. And the first was beyond awful, and the second was better mainly because it would be almost impossible to be worse then the first one, but…Come ON. From Oliver Stone and John Milius to the guys who wrote SOUND OF THUNDER?
    Furthermore, it is criminal that money was spent to make this while John Milius’ own magnificent script for a sequel, KING CONAN: CROWN OF IRON, remains unproduced.

    It seems sadly evident that, aside from an obvious lesser degree of talent at all levels involved with this production, the writers, filmmakers, ect, saw NEW CONAN (similar to New Coke, I guess) as “just” a fantasy / action film, firmly to be kept in that particular ghetto, and needing no more then lots of gore, fights, monsters and babes to make the audience happy. But that’s not how Robert E. Howard saw Conan, and it wasn’t Milius take on it either.

    Milius, despite not being a fantasy fan, having never read any of the Howard stories before, still took Conan seriously, and treated it like a biopic set in an actual historical period. His model was Kurosawa, and he tried to make his film as if the Hyborian Age had been as real as medieval Japan.

    At least most of the critics reveiwing NEW CONAN have compared it unfavorably to CONAN ’82. Hopefully the best thing to come out of this’ll be to inspire people to go back to the Milius film and the Howard stories. I doubt it’ll have any real impact general public’s image of the character. I mean, after all, there was a Conan cartoon and a Conan live-action tv show, and they were awful, and nobody remembers those anymore.

  27. And Vern, in all seriousness, take a look at THE WHOLE WILD WORLD. It’s a really good movie, and I think you’ll be happily surprised.

  28. HK newspapers are claiming that Donnie Yen has been offered a part in the Expendables II. I hope they let him do the action choreography as well. I would also like to see him kick Jet Li’s ass this time.

  29. “I punched a bloke in the face once for saying Hawk the Slayer was rubbish… when what I should have said was “Dad, you’re right – but let’s give Krull a try, and we’ll discuss it later”.”

    Thank you Simon Pegg.

  30. Whoa not even better than CONAN THE DESTROYER? in that case I’ll definitely wait on videos cause that movie was fucking atrocious. It’s a shame too cause this could’ve been a contender. OK ok with Nispel directing it never really had a chance. I feel for Momoa though cause that was pretty damn good casting there and now they’ll have to cast another Conan in the future if they feel like revisiting it cause this one made like $3 at the box office.

  31. My main complaint about this flick was Momoa. He just didn’t feel like Conan to me. Arnold could’ve snapped him in two. With his butt cheeks. It’s a shame too because the opening Birth of Conan/Egg Race scenes work. Once Momoa shows up, the flick just stalls out. Still, any movie in which the Party Crasher fucks people up is OK rainy day entertainment.

  32. KING CONAN: CROWN OF IRON wasn’t really a good script. It was too much politic and too little that happened. Yes, it had taken some inspiration from The Frost Giants Daughter in the beginning, but almost nothing happens in act 2. Too much about Conan sending letters to his son, and lot of misunderstandings, before we get too some old fashion Conan-hack&slash-adventure in the end. But then it’s way too late.

    I would love too see the Robert Rodriguez or The Wachowski’s Conan, but the King Conan script was pretty boring stuff. It’s kinda like how the Star Wars Prequel, and The Matrix sequel suddenly all become about politics, and about people discussing issue, instead of going on adventures. I always thought Conan become a lot boring when he became king, a lot more interesting when he was on adventures.

  33. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 22nd, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    My brother in law gave me a funny book about The Incredible Hulk living on another planet and doing some Conan shit. I thought that it would make a great Conan movie. I guess this Conan movie isn’t it.

  34. Jesus, I thought you were joking when you first mentioned that Morgan Freeman narrates this movie. It’s become THAT much of a cliche.

  35. is it really surprising that Hollywood ran 3D into the ground after less than 2 years? modern Hollywood just has to take the easy way out every chance they get

    and I bother with this new Conan at all it will be a rental

  36. 3 reasons why I like Conan The Destroyer:

    1. Fucking Wilt Chamberlain is in it.

    2. The movie is rated PG but it’s suprisingly pretty bloody. Also, Wilt the Stilt has to protect the princess’ virginity. Ha!

    3. Oliva D’Abo is as cute as button in it.

    I also really like the “rescuing the princess from the wizard” segment. Its very dream like. Its also directed by the guy who did Soylent Green. I really believe its a solid sword and sorcery movie.

  37. Vern is being way too kind to this movie. Its trash, fucking slick, highly produced trash, without any soul, any sense of adventure or excitement of mythos.

    I just don’t understand how hollywood can fail this badly when they have an already successful movie to reference as a template.

    Conan’s journey is supposed to feel like a mythical, emotional journey. In this version, while the beginning is the strongest stuff, the father dying and village destruction still never “feels” the way it should in this story. I think a big problem is the music, which is garbage, and does nothing at all to give this movie any weight. But even that aside, Nispel seems to not even try to give the movie any sense of a journey. How about some shots of young conan, standing tall overlooking the remains of his village, wind blowing across his face. Make us feel the weight of this moment. This should be a Luke Skywalker in beginning of A New Hope moment, but no, Nispel just handles everything like a plot-point and skips right over it.

    I think I could forgive sloppy action scenes (I would say that the original Conan isn’t exactly a masterstroke of fight choreography, and there’s actually not a ton of action in it), if the movie had any sense of direction, or felt like it cared at all or had a pulse. This movie feels dead, completely dead the entire way through, like nobody involved cares.

    Honestly I haven’t felt this pissed walking out of a movie since Terminator Salvation, which is a good comparison to this movie.

  38. I know it was a super expensive movie, but there are parts that seem to indicate that they couldn’t get all the money they needed to do all the stuff that was originally intended and probably would have made the movie better.

    Like when they go to the fortress with the thief, it looks that they couldn’t afford to build sets to show Conan’s adventures inside the fortress, so instead all we get is the fight with the tentacles and the Mortal Kombat/Ork dude and then it cuts to the awkward dialogue with Said Taghmaoui… “Sorry Conan, but the princess is in another castle” “Well I guess you can just find your way out of the fortress by yourself and vanish from the movie while we directly cut to the next scene, then, Said Taghmaoui” “Sure” “‘kay”.

    Or Morgan Freeman’s narration after Conan leaves his village. It would have been better as an awesome montage or an awesome 20 minutes of movie, but they figured hiring Morgan Freeman to narrate all the awesome adventures of Conan as a wanderer/pirate/thief/social reformer would be cheaper.

    And it definitely seems that one version of the script was supposed to be about a journey, Conan learning the true meaning of his father’s words or something, with all the dialogue about the blade that must bend or break and the fire and ice thing, but we just get a hint of that at the beginning and at the end of the movie, and in between they completely forget about it.

    I think it’s easier to not hate the movie if you’ve never read the books though. I never read them, and didn’t feel offended by the fact that the main character is just portrayed as a one-dimensional muscleman who enjoys decapitating his fellow man and having drinks with topless girls, for example.

  39. “The movie is rated PG but it’s surprisingly pretty bloody.”

    That was back when PG movies could have blood and tits, because the next highest rating was R. It all changed when Red Dawn came out a couple of months later and we got the first PG-13 movie.

  40. Hi Jack Burton. I’ve realised our encounter could create a time paradox, the results of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space time continuum, and destroy the entire universe! Either that or we are just two guys using the real name and the fake name of a really great character from the same – brilliant – film.

  41. Uh, NO….the 2nd act of King Conan is what makes it great. Again, it’s Milius taking Conan seriously and treating it as a serious, complex film about statehood, leadership, politics, imperialism, and responsibility. Sounds like Kull The Conquerer would be more your speed, though.

    See, though, “Ghost” finally perfectly explains the inexplicable hatred and resentment so many fanboys direct at the Star Wars prequels. To qoute: “suddenly all became about politics, and about people discussing issue, rather then going on adventures”, unqoute. Putting aside his wretched prose and many typos, this attitude perfectly clarifies the response to the prequels. And Crystal Skull, and apparently the KING CONAN script, for a lot of people. They’re just not what the fanboys want or feel comfortable with. Said fanboys are very sophisticated or literate and, faced with something that takes place in a time period they’re not too familiar with (Crystal Skull) or that requires a degree of awareness of how the world actually works and a comprehension of drama beyond basic fighting and fucking (Star Wars Prequels, King Conan), they can’t rise to the challenge and actually expand their horizons. At all. So they just reject it and yell about how it sucks. Sad, but attempting to appeal to that mentality seems to be what has given us Marcus Nispel’s Conan in the first place. Hope they’re all happy.

  42. Ahem…I meant: “Said fanboys are NOT very sophisticated or literate….

  43. No horseshit, Henry Swanson.

  44. Try not shake the pillars of heaven too much, guys.

  45. The original script for JAWS 2 was about a shark running for mayor of Amity Island. It tackled with racial issues, political corruption, etc. Really ambitious stuff. There was also a script for TERMINATOR 2 that was about young Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series T-800 #104.257 mourning the loss of his time-travelling brother. Dustin Hoffman was considered for the role. But you know how it is, fanboys are too dumb, they just want the same old, same old, so of course they were never used (well except maybe the JAWS 2 script became the 4th season of THE WIRE). With that mentality, I’d be surprised if the BLADE reboot finally deals with gender identity and child autism like we are all hoping for. It will probably be about vampires and martial arts. Stupid unsophisticated fanboys.

  46. I won’t see this ’til it comes on cable or and airyplane I’m on or something. But do I have this straight? They have narration running through the movie? That wasn’t in the script. I wonder if the cut chunks of story out and if it happened pre or post production.

    Also, did they cut all the flashback/ghost-like visitations of Conan’s dad out?

    Sounds like a litany of poor creative choices.

    These people (Nu-Image/Millennium) just aren’t up to this level of big budget movie-making. It’s a shame, because they probably could have done a much better job if they hadn’t let the thing become so bloated. Regardless, Nispel should never be allowed to make an action film again if he can’t deliver a single satisfying set-piece in a fucking Conan movie.

  47. if we’re not careful, Hollywood may turn into a world of Jaws 3Ds

  48. Pardon me, Toxic (apt name), but Terminator 2 IS a literate, intelligent, sophisticated, complex and mature ect ect work with considerable depth and artistic value. Terminator 3, however, is not. Also, immaturity, proud ignorance, and lack of intellectual curiosity doesn’t equal low intelligence. I never said the “fanboy” demographic was stupid. I said they ACT stupid. There’s a difference.

  49. By the way, real imaginative getting Morgan Freeman as the narrator, guys. That’s what I call thinking inside the box with about two or three extra layers of box around the original box to make sure that none of your thinking leaks outside of the box at all because that would be bad. I would’ve got Busta Rhymes.

    I love you Vern.

  50. btw, speaking of chris tucker, we’re apparently going to see a lot of him after seeing a not of him. this is a good read, with lots of ratner quotes, good “jackie brown” and “friday” trivia too:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/19/movies/chris-tucker-is-back-with-a-stand-up-tour.html

    Mr. Ratner predicted that Mr. Tucker would face no shortage of film opportunities when he completes his comedy tour, which is booked through November in 20 cities from Seattle to Miami Beach. “Look, people get angry,” he said. “They’re like, ‘He’s wasting his time, he’s wasting his life, he could have made $100 million.’ But it’s his own journey. How are you going to be upset about what he’s choosing to do with his life?”

    Mr. Tucker did not provide details about the film projects he was developing for himself and hoped to get into production later this year. Asked to name an actor whose career he wished to emulate, he immediately said Sidney Poitier, citing “The Defiant Ones” as a movie that “meant something.”

    i don’t know about that chris. you’re more ruby rhod than mister tibbs, but if you’re going to get all serious, who knows, maybe you got it in you to pull it off. we just need to see more of you on screen again

  51. I asked this in the Rush Hour 2 thread but no one responded, isn’t Chris Tucker a Christian? that would maybe explain why we haven’t seen him in so long, most super Religious actors are anal when it comes to actually working in Hollywood (aka the Devil’s playground)

  52. I think the opening paragraph kind’ve highlights the main problem this project faced going in: The target audience for this sort of thing isn’t really familiar with Conan the Barbarian, they primarily just like a movie from 1982 that happened to bear that name.

    With that in mind, the studio should’ve approached and presented this as a true adaptation of the original source material. It’s something that hadn’t been done in nearly 80 years of the character’s existence, so that alone was a perfectly good justification for rebooting the franchise.

    Instead, the studio insisted on recycling the revenge storyline from Milius, which was incompatible with Howard’s creation. So on a fundamental level, this project was screwed. It angered Conan fans by not using the original stories, while fans of the Milius film just viewed it as another cheap remake and a threat to King Conan ever being made.

    The studio then doubled down on this error by hiring a director and screenwriter known only for making bad films. Rather than borrowing from Howard’s stories, Donnelly and Oppenheimer decided to steal liberally from movies they had seen growing up. (For example, in early drafts, a villain named “Khalar Singh” survived sandstorms and used strange little worms to bend the will of others to his own. Seriously.)

    Having read those initial scripts, I’m actually not that offended by what made it to the screen. Momoa was a nice surprise as Conan, and is certainly closer to the character as described by Howard. I also think it’s good to finally have another portrayal out there that’s different from Arnold’s take.

    However, that also makes it even more disappointing to step back and think of how much potential this movie had. This was never going to be a Lord of the Rings-style affair (no matter how much purists may want to pretend otherwise), but it could’ve launched a very cool series of R-rated action films.

    Ultimately, I waited 16 years for Conan the King. 3 for King Conan: Crown of Iron. And another 8 for Conan 3D. Now it looks like I’ll be waiting several more years before anyone even attempts to go near this franchise again.

  53. JD — now in all fairness, people are pretty justified in not liking KOTCS or the Prequels simply because they’re poorly told stories. THE GODFATHER has a lot of politics and meetings and shit but nerds seem to like it pretty well. There’s a big difference between long, awkwardly staged, clumsily expository political scenes like the ones in PHANTOM MENACE and the tense, tightly woven political scenes in SYRIANA.

  54. Very good points, bullet3. You really put a finger on a problem I had with this and Pathfinder. You’re right, they don’t take time to have Conan or Ghost “simmer” as Michael Jackson might’ve said. It’s always rushing to the next part. Not much sense of timing or atmosphere or enjoying the moment.

    It makes sense that this is from Millennium, the modern equivalent of Cannon Films.

  55. Telf: it’s not one of those constant narration movies. There’s a prologue with narration and I guess it must’ve popped up again at some point, but not much.

    I don’t remember Conan’s dad returning Obi Wan style.

    and thank you Jake and everybody else for all your insights, I appreciate them. I think I’ll pick up a Conan collection somebody recommended to me.

  56. Marcus Nispel did a pretty cool video for Faith No More. It’s the only reason I root for the guy. It’s kind of sad that (as much as I love Faith No More) a music video is as close as he’ll ever get to making anything watchable. I hope he proves me wrong someday but I’m not holding my breath.

    Speaking of videos (and this probably belongs in one of the potpourri thingies) whatever happened to Kevin Kerslake? His videos we always cool as shit. Perhaps he knows the limits of his talents and decided that music videos were his bread and butter and didn’t want to waste everyone’s time with a feature length headache. I think Nispel and Michael Bay could learn a lot from that guy. Then again, David Fincher, Spike Jonze, and Michele Gondry made some kick ass videos as well.

  57. I also like the GREEDY FLY clip, that Nispel directed for Bush once. (And that one Spice Girls clip, because I just love the juxtaposition of a cheesy salsa pop song and a video, that seems to take place in the darkest corner of the Blade Runner world.) But let’s face it, just because you are a good music video/commercial director, doesn’t mean you know how to do good movies.
    In my opinion there are three categories of music-video-turned-motion-picture-directors:

    1.) The creative genius: The best of them create movies with style AND substance, but even when the former seems to defeat the latter, they somehow manage to avoid to turn their movies into hollow schlock, that isn’t even worth the video rental. (Obviously Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, David Fincher and others)

    2.) The I-know-the-difference-between-clip-and-movie director: Their movies are nothing too special, but they ain’t bad either. They try to frame every picture as breathtaking as possible, but don’t want the visual component to overwhelm the story. They don’t succeed every time, but it’s clear that they try. (Mark Pellington, Francis Lawrence, Jonathan Glazer, Gore Verbinsky and others)

    3.) You know who: The guys who might have rightfully earned their good reputation in the world of MTV and commercial breaks, but they really need to visit film school again and learn the basics, before they do their next full length feature film. (Nispel, Bay and many others who rightfully never had the chance to make a 2nd movie.)

    Then there are of course sub categories, like “Directors, who use style-over-substance in the most fun way possible and even do that on purpose” (Our friend Joseph Khan) or “Directors, who learned all basics, but never anything above and therefore depend on the strength of the script” (Brett Ratner), but I think all in all you can put most of them in these three main categories.

  58. I forgot, why is Joseph Khan our friend again?

    anyway I know this is total thread delay, but since it was brought I’ll just say that I think KOTC got so much hate because it came out so long after the third, by then everyone and their grandma dreamed up their own Indiana Jones flick and there was no way it was gonna live up to people’s expectations

    if the exact same movie had come out around 1995, I think people would have been kinder (and the mid 90’s is really when they SHOULD have done the 4th Indy)

  59. He is our friend because we like TORQUE and he even made some guest appereances in one or two comment sections of this websight.

  60. That came across as kinda sarcastic. Sorry for that. Wasn’t my intention. TORQUE is cool and not every director would be willing to discuss the racial politics of DISTRICT 9 and RUSH HOUR on here.

  61. Mr. Subtlety: Yeah, people have every right in the world to simply not like the Prequels or whatever on a critical basis–of course. If they can point to something and say, that scene is badly written, or that actor gave a terrible performance, or this is illogical or badly paced or the dialouge is terrible, then yeah, that’s a perfectly good reason to dislike it. I wasn’t saying people can’t NOT like those movies. What drives me crazy is that immediate, childish rejection of them because they weren’t exactly what some people wanted, and then it turns out what they wanted is in itself fairly childish and uninteresting.

    It’s like–I remember talking to someone about Gangs Of New York once, and about how a lot of people were going around proclaiming that there was an alternate cut somewhere that was “perfect” and “fixed all the problems” and “was completely different” from the released film, and how if they would just release that, then Gangs would be a good movie. And we were contemplating this mythic version of the movie that was obviously pure wish-fulfillment fantasy, and agreed that a lot of the most ardent film fans now no longer seemed able to accept a film simply for what it was. If it wasn’t what they expected going in, it was flawed or wrong somehow and needed to be fixed, or viciously attacked for dissapointing them.

  62. Jake: Yeah, that Khalar Singh draft was the one I read, that sent me charging into the wilderness in a berserker rage, qouting R.E. Howard’s Solomon Kane: “MEN SHALL DIE FOR THIS!” For there is even worse in it. Far, far worse.

    And for Vern, or anyone else who’s never read Robert E. Howard and is now inspired to check him out, look for the fairly recent illustrated Del Rey editions, including the three volume complete Conan stories. They are “The Coming Of Conan The Cimmerian”, “The Bloody Crown Of Conan”, and “The Conquering Sword Of Conan”.

    These are the greatest. They are the literary equivalent of four-disc Criterion collection deluxe director’s cut DVDs. They’ve got every single Conan story, plus introductions, essays, unfinished fragments, additional materials (some of Howard’s letters, his “Hyborian Age” essay, ect) alternate drafts, notes on the stories, great illustrations…and they’re not that expensive! In paperback they’re less then twenty dollars. And if your library doesn’t have them, order them, by Crom! : )

  63. CJ Holden – oh yeah, I remember now

    how come that guy never posted here again?

  64. I guess he’s busy. He made another movie that he financed all by himself and is now taking it from festival to festival.

  65. Michael Mann is the king of letting things “simmer”.

    He’s also the king of the Director’s Commentary. Just listen to his commentary tracks for Manhunter, Heat, Collateral and even Public Enemies.

    Damn, I’d kill to hear a Mann commentary track for Ali. Unfortunately, the region 2 DVD doesn’t have one.

    I wonder what he could do with a Conan movie. Since Last of the Mohicans is the cinematic equivalent of all things manly and good in the world, I like to believe that he would hit a home run.

  66. You’re right about the filmatistic simmering mastery, Knox.
    I’m on record stating Michael Mann is the #2 best director ever, and that’s just based on the movies.
    You add his badass yet professional commentaries into the equation, man, and that just makes me like him more.
    You raise the prospect of Mann doing another outdoors-based, pre-20th century settting period piece, and that hypercharges me into ecstatic Chev Chelios territory, where I drool electricity & adrenaline and I hit people because I don’t know how to deal with the awesome Mannliness but I know I need more of it.

  67. I would like to officially nominate “Mannliness” for the Best New Word of the Year Award.

  68. Vern’s review almost got me out to see this. I like the original REH Conan stories and think the 80s Conan the Barbarian movie is one of my favorites (even if it is fascist propaganda). I just couldn’t get excited or bothered for this.

    I’m sure Mamoa is a decent enough actor in this but after seeing him play a Klingon on Game of Thrones I just didn’t care one way or the other. The trailers didn’t do anything for me.

    I think Conan, both the REH stories and the Milius film, are slower paced and more thoughtful. Sure, there are bursts of action but they took their time to establish mood and a sense of time and place. The trailers just made this look like a bumpy action movie from an awful director who can’t stage an action scene.

    Vern, I’m not a huge comic book guy or anything (honest!) but the Dark Horse Conan books are really solid. They take REH’s stories and put them into chronological order and have original stories in between and I think they’re pretty great.

    Mr JD, I’m no fanboy of much but I think you might be misunderstanding these people. Sure, some fans of THESERIESOFFILMSWECANNOTNAME may have disliked those prequels because of the politics or whatever. More than anything, however, I think they just didn’t like those films because they were bad and pointed out one of the most glaring differences between them as being the reason. I think a lot of these people are unable to understand what it is that was wrong and instead misunderstood why they disliked those movies. I’m betting if they saw an episode of The West Wing or Charlie Wilson’s War or something that does politics in an engaging and interesting way that they would be on board.

  69. Mouth,
    Who is your #1 best director ever?

  70. It IS a bumpy action movie from an awful director who can’t stage an action scene….

    And I’m sorry, Casey, but you’re misunderstanding me. I didn’t say “politics”, alone and of itself, was unnaceptable to the Prequel haters or the audience members they represent in general. I was pointing out that a lot of the most fiery amateur critics of them seem to have gone into them expecting something specific (basically, their fantasies of The Ultimate Perfect Star Wars Movie) and then had conniption fits because there were elements in them they hadn’t expected. They seemed unwilling or unable to accept that, and just rejected them completely in hysterical screaming outrage and refused to admit that there could be ANYTHING good about them. And again, this was not based on intelligence or education or whatever, a lot of clearly smart and sophisticated people act this way. Simon Pegg has been throwing tantrums about the Prequels for years. His book has an entire CHAPTER about what HE would have done differently! This attitude extends to a lot of films and filmmakers (I posted in some other comment thread once trying to imagine what it would be like if it was applied to Terence Malick) but seems to really crystallize in relation to Lucas in general and the Prequels in particular.

  71. Sorry if this has already been posted around here, and I don’t know in which thread to put this, but I think most of you will enjoy Matthias Stork’s video essay on “Chaos Cinema” (read: Shakycam, Avid Farts):

    http://blogs.indiewire.com/pressplay/archives/2011/08/22/video_essay_matthias_stork_calls_out_the_chaos_cinema/

    (via Slantmagazine’s blog)

  72. Speaking of buying a collection of Conan stories, Paradox does deserve a lot of credit in this whole affair. The previous rights holders never bothered to insure the original stories were available to a mass audience, which is no doubt a major reason why so many fans of Milius’ Conan never became a fan of Howard’s. Worse, the old Conan Properties, Inc. also approached subsequent incarnations of the character (such as the cartoon and tv series) as if Milius’ Conan had been the original source material.

    By comparison, Paradox has done a very good job of getting Howard’s work out there, as well as making his Conan available to a younger audience via the popular Dark Horse comics and Age of Conan game. If it had been entirely up to them, the new film would have been a far more faithful representation.

    However, if Avi Lerner and Millenium had gotten their way, we would’ve had a straight PG-13 remake of the Milius film starring an Arnold clone. They were unwilling to budge on recycling the origin/revenge storyline, but Paradox did win the fight over making it R-rated. They also won the argument over whether or not Conan would grow up as a slave again.

    The latter was always one of the biggest problems fans had with the Milius Conan, as Howard’s creation would’ve never spent 20 years in captivity- gaining freedom only when granted it. It worked for Milius’ version, but only because he was more inspired by (and attempting to make) Richard Fleischer’s The Vikings than Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian. (The story goes that’s how Fleischer ended up helming Conan the Destroyer, since Milius had raved about his work on The Vikings so much during production.)

    Paradox agreed to the compromises in order to get the film made, but had hoped the sequels would more accurately reflect REH. To this end, a script for Conan 2 had already been completed and was a relatively straight adaptation of Howard’s “A Witch Shall Be Born”.

    So even though Paradox made their share of bad decisions on this project, they were at least trying to make it a decent effort. Unfortunately, they’ll end up carrying the brunt of this disaster, as the Conan brand will suffer while the rest (Millennium, Nispel, Donnelly/Oppenheimer) will likely continue to fail upwards.

  73. Vern… Given that you dig Parker, I think you would sincerely enjoy Howard’s original Conan stories. Some are straight up adventures, like “Beyond the Black River,” some are enjoyably weird, like “Red Nails.”

    But my favorites are the stories in which Conan is basically a thief and a killer who is only our “good guy” because he associates with people who are even worse: “Rogues in the House,” “The Black Stranger,” “The Tower of the Elephant,” and more…

    Like Parker, he has his own sense of right and wrong that gives us a way to root for him, and Conan is a compelling protagonist because he always has a clear goal that he active pursues. But to look at Conan as a “hero” is missing the mark on the character. If Richard Stark wrote a LORD OF THE RINGS-style fantasy story, it would probably look like these… thematically, at least.

    Howard’s style is a lot “bigger,” which at its best gives these stories some unexpectedly poetic moments, and at worst treads into some purple prose. But it hits much more often than it misses, and I firmly believe there will come a day that Howard is seen as a master of American literature on par with Poe.

  74. JD — Ah, I think I understand much better now; you’re not saying that people were complaining simply because the films were talky, but because they deviated from some imagined idea of what the film “should” be about.

    I too get really annoyed by that — it particularly infuriated me for the last X-FILES movie, which was a really tense, disturbing, atmospheric horror show and yet got greeted by people angrily demanding to know where the aliens were. I always make an effort not to judge a film on what it *isn’t* although I’ll admit there are a few films which just seem like such missed opportunities its hard not to imagine simple ways that they could have been much more interesting.

  75. I didn’t care where the aliens were. By the end of the show, I was well and truly sick of aliens. I just wanted to know where the fun, excitement, suspense, humor, action, intrigue, interesting plotting, good ideas, and reasons to exist were.

    Also, Scully’s boobs. I always want to know where those are.

  76. That was harsh. I know you made a real good case for it, Mr. S, and I even went back and rewatched it to see if it improved with (even) lower expectations. But if anything, it’s even worse the second time. There is just no reason for that movie to be. It’s not a good idea for a story, and the characters at this point are depressing shells of their former selves. There might be some interesting thematic shit in there, but what does it matter when it’s trapped in such a non-starter of a movie?

  77. You liked the last X-files movie? Shit. I thought I was the only one.

    I really wouldn’t mind a new X-files movie every couple of years, and I’m not even a hardcore fan of the series. If I was the King of Hollywood (or just a producer), that’s what I’d do: Invest in low-budget movie franchises with regular installments. That last X-files movie cost $20-30 million. That’s nothing. Don’t tell me you won’t get your money back if you make one of those every 3 years. The same could be done with a lot of properties. Parker, Jason, The Losers. Even lesser known comic book characters like Black Panther and Moon Knight. I’d love to bring good pulp back to cinema. The trick is to get talented, passionate people involved.

  78. I’m not against the idea of more X-FILES movies. But the last one was like a third-tier episode, the kind with a weak plot and a bunch of personal drama that you forgot about the second it was over. I’m thinking they should just ditch all the fucking continuity (which never went anywhere, let’s be frank) and just reset the clock back to 1997 or so. Mulder and Scully are FBI agents investigating the paranormal without ever mentioning their sexual tension. There is a weredonkey or something. Go.

  79. I kinda like them as a couple. Wouldn’t mind exploring that side of their relationship. I guess that’s why that last movie felt like a fresh start to me. I like the personal drama. But I’d definitely focus more on the supernatural stuff (weredonkeys, rape-fairies) than the bloody UFO’s. As long as they continue without the aliens and without him constantly fixating on his missing sister, I’d love to see more.

  80. Mr M — If the weredonkey is anything like the weresheep from BLACK SHEEP, it will haunt my nightmares forever.

    I should note that I am probably a bigger fan of grim, grostesque, atmospheric X-files than most fans were. I thought the film felt exactly like one of the perverse, depressing episodes they were doing a lot around season 3-4 but gradually cut down on. Obviously, I’d also love to see Mulder and Scully having a bit more fun, but again, I try to judge a film by what IS there, not what COULD be there. I thought a big part of the backlash came from the fact that the X-files encompassed a wide rage of tones and themes, and the movie happened to be pretty strongly geared towards a type of episode which arguably didn’t define the show as strongly as the Mulder/Scully Shipper stuff, the humor, the conspiracy, etc. So I can understand someone feeling like the film didn’t have a lot of aspects that they felt defined the show. But if you just like creepy, atmospheric horror/thriller stuff, I feel like the film is objectively pretty strong.

    Knox– I’ll happily nominate you for King of Hollywood is that will be your first edict. Just don’t forget about your campaign promises once you get in there.

    Point of fact, the show was making episodes which felt just as large-scale and cinematic as the movie did for way less money. If they could get a new 15 mil X-files film out every few years, maybe even DTV, I think they’d make a lot of people really happy.

  81. In theory, I’m not against them getting together. Watching them cuddle is still a little bit like watching your best friend’s parents kiss, but I can get over that. All that tension had to go somewhere eventually. The problem is, their relationship is grounded in tragedy and sacrifice. They’re a total downer as a couple. There’s too much water under the bridge for me to imagine them ever having a good laugh together as they did the dishes or something. It’s all obsessions and spiritual crises. No fucking fun whatsoever.

  82. Well, that’s where the rape-fairies come in.

  83. Mr. S – The creepy atmospheric episodes were my favorite ones. The alien conspiracy episodes were a bunch of horseshit. All sizzle, no steak, as Stephen King would say. It was the monster of the week episodes that made the show what it was. So the strategy of THE X-FILES: WHATEVER THE FUCK IT WAS CALLED, I FORGET was sound. Problem was, it was a really weak monster of the week episode. I think even if it had been a completely self-contained thing, if I’d never heard of Mulder and Scully and this was just a mid-budget horror-thriller about (um? Help me out here? I’m gonna go with…) parts-snatching, I’d still think it was a weak story that didn’t go anywhere. Some good scenes, but that’s about all.

  84. “A kind of despair has largely soured the favorite activity of my soon to be drinking buddy Mr. Majestyk, and I wish not to fall into that same pit.”

    Mouth… I fell into it months ago. I’m trying to climb out though.

    This “Conan” remake is just depressing. Partly because literally nobody I’ve read who’s had anything to say about it really liked it, partly because it’s so unnecessary, and partly because it’s so damn predictable. Who the hell decided this thing had to exist?

  85. Then again, it’s not as depressing as the chimp movie. We already had 6 of those, most of them mediocre or terrible, plus a TV show, a cartoon, and comic books. We really didn’t need a new one, especially not one that’s clearly trying to start a new pentalogy or something.

  86. Jareth Cutestory

    August 23rd, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    I like the alien episodes and the non-serialized episodes of the X-FILES in equal measure. I propose that the success of the show depends equally on these two major facets.

    Part of what I like the most about the alien plot is precisely that for so many years it never went anywhere. I like that kafkaesque feeling of nothing particularly significant being accomplished, yet we’re shown little glimpses into all manner of freakiness. Even when it was resolved it wasn’t resolved.

    Remember that one cliffhanger where Scully was on the bridge with a bunch of people waiting to be abducted and then these dudes with sewn-shut faces came running out to burn everyone? The show excelled at moments like that, and I think the reputation of the series has suffered because a bunch of literal-minded dorks refuse to understand that the show required a heavy does of narrative ambiguity for such disquiet to really work. Not knowing the exact function of the Black Goop is exactly what made it scary. Many of the stand-alone episodes did the heavy-lifting in terms of character and thematic development, but the alien plot episodes are what gave the show its more profound, far-reaching sense of dread.

    I also like the second X-FILES movie a lot despite its flaws. Mr. Subtlety has defended it really well in another thread. I think that it seems like a very organic extension of where the series left off. Of course, whether or not you like the last three seasons of the show is open to debate and will obviously influence how warmly you approach the prospect of caring “where they left off.”

    Remember that early episode of the X-FILES that was Chris Carter’s riff on THE THING? It’s so weird that Kenny Bania is in that one.

    Also, the Flukeman totally needs his own reality show. Or late night talk show.

  87. I’m going to see it but all I can really focus on is that the guy who plays Conan is the dude from stargate atlantis. I guess he likes the dreadlock/long hair look.

    meh.

  88. That chimp movie was not depressing. You are in the minority on that one bro.

  89. man, I forgot they even made another X Files movies

    I predict X Files will get rebooted as a new tv series sometime in the next decade

  90. I find it difficult to think of a 1990s television series that relied on the peculiar chemistry of its lead actors more than X-FILES did. Even shows as singular as NORTHERN EXPOSURE or TWIN PEAKS don’t really compare. SEINFELD, I guess.

    Not that this would be an impediment to some moron going ahead with a reboot.

  91. dieselboy: what I’m saying is that regardless of wheter the movie is awful or decent, it’s still depressing that somebody decided that it should exist in the first place.

  92. I have some friends who think Fringe is the second coming of The Wire. Has anyone else seen it? I’ve avoided it because it looked like a new X Files.

  93. I disagree man. I went back and watched the first three original apes movies and found them to be pretty lacking in terms of acting,direction.pacing almost everything about them seemed out-dated and clunky.By the time I was finished with Beneath the Planet of the Apes I had lost all motivation to finish the series. Maybe you just had to be there when they were released to appreciate them but it’s definitely a series that I thought could benefit from an update.

  94. Jareth Cutestory

    August 24th, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I just saw on the AV Club that Tooms is dragging his 16 year old wife around the world trying to solicit a reality show. No mention yet of his newspaper-and-spit nest, but his
    dogs look malnourished and possibly traumatized. No X-FILES reboot could ever be that weird.

  95. About FRINGE: I really liked the first two seasons. There were already hints of a bigger story arc, but most episodes were pretty well made, self contained murder mysteries, only that the victim wasn’t shot or poisoned, but instead melted to goo or mauled by a mutant or something like that. It was the old, simple “someone did a crime and we have to find out who, why and where he is now”, only with a huge SciFi twist. By the end of season 2, they added a big story arc about something, that I don’t wanna spoil if you haven’t seen it, but if you ask me, it sucks all enjoyment out of the show.
    I already talked about my dislike for most story arc shows and while FRINGE hasn’t arrived yet in the real of “too much convolution, not enough sense”, like 98% of every other story arc heavy show out there, I really cheer for every single “filler” episode. Sure, most fans will disagree with me about this. Most even think the show became absolutely brilliant, when the story arc stepped into the foreground, but I don’t think so. Okay, I haven’t finished season 3 yet, so maybe the finale will blow my mind, but for now I care less for the show than I did when it started.
    But John Noble is all kinds of awesome in this.

  96. dieselboy: I understand what you mean. I guess I’m a pessimist. When I see an “intellectual property”, as they call it (or is it “franchise”?) that has mostly spawned crap, my 1st thought is “they should probably not touch that crap anymore and try to come up with something new” instead of “they should have another try at it, maybe the 17th attempt will finally be successful”. Besides, but from what I understand, it’s not like the original PLANET OF THE APES novel is a masterpiece in the first place.

  97. Saw it last night and it’s almost good but not quite.

    On the plus side, Momoa is great as Conan, much more like the character than Arnie ever was, and he knows how to fight on-screen, with him really giving it his all.

    Also, it’s super-violent at times which is always welcome.

    And it’s certainly more like the world of Conan, but only on a very superficial level – there’s ships and taverns and shit like that but it doesn’t feel like Conan, or rather, it feels like a later issue of the comic book just before it got cancelled where they’d give it anyone and no-one cared.

    I’m not surprised it tanked, really, although I think a truly awesome Conan movie wouldn’t have fared much better.

    As a fan it saddens me but I don’t think the 21st century gives a shit about Conan.

  98. Casey – “Fringe” is a sci-fi detective series about a group of extremely thick, dysfunctional detectives who have somehow convinced everyone they know that they’re super-geniuses. There’s one particularly hilarious moment in an early epsiode where they know that only one person could possibly be responsible for a murder, but rather than following that person or gathering evidence or something, they construct a MacGyver-style death machine that can read the last image sketched into the dead guy’s retina. It’s kinda like Monty Python, if Monty Python was a detective series with all the absurdities kept in but somehow played completely straight. If you’re into the unintentionally hilarious then “Fringe” is the best show on TV right now.

    I’m rewatching some X-Files myself at the moment also. I’d forgotten how generally creepy it could be. I’d also forgotten how little the “conspiracy” stuff actually worked – the “monster of the week” episodes were the ones that really shone. The one with the Arctic parasite that takes over your mind and makes you kill people (hello, “The Thing”!) – that was CREEPY.

  99. You’re the first person I have heard of calling it stupid. Not that I disagree, since I’ve not seen it, but I just think it’s interesting.

    I might be an odd guy because I bought Lost and watch professional wrestling but honestly think Game of Thrones was one of the most boring and stupid shows in a long while (and I was a fan of the books!). I also firmly acknowledge The Wire as being the greatest and Breaking Bad / Rome being up there as well but can’t stand Mad Men because it’s a show that’s literally about nothing. Unfortunately my wife eats it up so I end up seeing Mad Men and True Blood. Ugh.

    But, yeah, my tastes are a little erratic. I’ll give Fringe a try once work calms down.

  100. Well, FRINGE has its headscratching moments, but it is smarter, makes more sense and is less boring than BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (remake). And it looks less amateurish.

  101. Jareth Cutestory

    August 25th, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Wait, I have issues with the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, but technical quality wasn’t one of them. Admittedly, the new version didn’t have any robot dogs, but I thought everything else looked quite plausible. What glaring acts of amateurishness am I missing?

  102. Mostly the unbearable shaky cam, that didn’t even let you know what the fuck was going on during dialogue scenes. Sorry, but I remember a time when second long, shaking out-of-focus close-ups of talking heads were a reason to fire you, when you were operating a camera.

  103. Shit, man, I love Mad Men. It has some of the best screen writing I’ve ever seen. The use of subtext is absolutely masterful. By far the best character study on TV, maybe ever.

    I’ve only seen the first season of Battlestar Galactica so far, but from what I’ve seen it’s pretty damn impressive.

  104. I really must start watching MAD MEN at one point, but the story doesn’t seem interesting to me. To be honest, I don’t even know what the story is. All I know is that it’s about some guys who make ads in the 60’s, smoke a lot and cheat on their wifes with their secretaries. I’m not saying it’s bad, but so far I don’t have a reason to care for it.

  105. And seriously, it takes a lot to really make me HATE a TV show or a movie. Normally I just decide to not watch it (anymore) if it turns out that I don’t like it. But BSG and (THE BIG BANG THEORY) seriously push all the wrong buttons and I just can’t do anything else than hate them with a passion, so I really try to not turn this into a BSG (and/or TBBT) bitch session, but if it might happen anyway, I already apologize.

  106. Ah, I see what you mean CJ. Thanks for clarifying. Other acceptable answers: mellodrama, human robots, religious robots, horny robots.

    I’m glad you didn’t put me in a position where I had to defend the new GALACTICA robots by comparing them to the guy with the lightbulb head in the old GALACTICA. I mean, who wants to come down hard on old Lightblb Head? Poor dude can’t even walk through a doorway without worrying that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to put his noggin back together again.

    Come to think of it, old GALACTICA had cool robots. Fuck those new stainless steel models. Lightbulb Head rules. The robot dog was cool too.

  107. CJ: Mr. Subtlety has a great defence of MAD MEN. I think it’s in the INCEPTION comments.

  108. About BSG: Also bad acting* and completely absurd character motivation.
    And nobody needs to defend MAD MEN against me. I’m not saying it’s bad, I just haven’t seen it, because the story doesn’t seem to be my cup of tea. Maybe I will at one point, but for now I’m happy with BREAKING BAD. (No season 4 spoilers please. It hasn’t started here yet.)

    *except Edward James Olmos. He was brillant!

  109. I’ve seen MAD MEN. It was among the most unentertaining and depressing things I’ve ever watched. I’m not saying it’s bad, because it clearly set out to be as unentertaining and depressing as humanly possible. So it clearly achieved all of its goals. I just can’t imagine why anyone would want to watch it achieve those goals.

  110. Just thought I’d give you a head’s up that Mad Men isn’t really narrative driven, CJ. Like I said, it’s more of a character study, with a strong emphasis on the moods and themes of it’s particular era. But do give it a shot.

    I still haven’t seen a single episode of Breaking Bad. I’m dying to, but time is such a luxury these days.

  111. Okay, so I’m not gonna watch it. (I suffer from clinical depression and must be very careful with what I watch and when. So I’m not sure if I really wanna watch a new downer every single week.)

  112. Majestyk, I think it was you who once came up with the phrase: “MAD MEN is like being stuck in an elevator with a bunch of miserable assholes who have better clothes than you.”

  113. BREAKING BAD is pretty great. I’ve only seen the first season so far, but the bathtub scene made me a fan for life.

  114. Then you will love Season 3, which has some of the greatest HOLY SHIT moments in the history of television!

  115. Also Jesse’s girlfriend in the second season is cute as a button. And her dad is Q.

  116. Y’know, I was being somewhat sarcastic in my comments about “Fringe” (which I genuinely think is very good). It just makes me laugh every time that these detectives have easy ways to track down the people responsible for whatever’s happening at their fingertips, but instead they always end up constructing paranormal brainwave-reading death-machines, like some manic hi-tech version of MacGyver.

  117. Just to clarify, I don’t know if I was necessarily *defending* MAD MEN. Just saying its way weirder and borderline experimental than most people seem to give it credit for. That doesn’t necessarily make it enjoyable (i couldnt take it anymore after season 3.)

  118. MAD MEN unentertaining? I don’t know, guys, it’s definitely slow paced and depressing, but also sometimes it’s crazy and/or hilarious. What about that episode where the secretary rides over that guys foot with a lawnmower? Or the one where Don gets Roger to drink heavily and eat a bunch of raw clams at lunch, then tricks him into walking all the way up the office, causing him to puke his guts out right in front of a bunch of clients?

    It’s not misery, is what I’m saying.

  119. Don’t know how this converstation veered off into Mad Men territory but I’ll chime in. I own the first 3 season’s of Made Men and after finishing season 3, i can safely say that this is a slice of life type of show. There’s some general story arcs that the show goes back to now and then but really, each episode is a snapshot of that particular day (or days) in these character’s lives. Its not a show where something shocking happens each episode, you just get to see these people living their lives and you’re either interested in their lives or you’re not. Whats great about this structure is that when something crazy/shocking does happen, it carries alot of weight. Whats not so great is that sometimes the show feels like its meandering and not really going anywhere (especially in season 2). I think its worth watching just for the performances and writing alone. The characters feel like real people with real lives.

  120. I didn’t get that far. On account of the fact that the thought of looking at these people for one more second made my soul start to wither and die. It was me or the show. I chose me.

  121. I find it funny that supposedly unscripted “reality” shows are edited and bejiggered so much that they actually have *more* narrative than MAD MEN does. You have to write a scripted drama to get a “slice of life” show on TV now! It’s too bad Ozu’s dead now that cable seems ready to have him do a six-season dramatic series.

  122. Man, guys, I didn’t mean to get into talk about Mad Men! I just wanted to say that my tastes are a little erratic since Mad Men seems very well regarded and I think it’s a very hollow show.

    Don’t get me wrong, it has a few funny parts. There are some good scenes and it can be fun on occasion. Way too often, though, the show focuses on how Don is just a big child while trying to make him out to have depth. He has no depth. He’s a child. That’s all. His wife? Also a child but never at all interesting. Every scene with her in it is miserable and painful to watch.

    I’ve seen all the episodes that have been made and it’s just not about anything. They drop stories and characters without any real resolution. It doesn’t really stand on its own.

    I may be missing the point but it mostly seems like 4 seasons of “haha they smoke and drink at work and sexually harass women!”

    Breaking Bad is about something. There are themes and characters and imagery at work there. Small moments from season 1 can be important later on. Walt and Jesse are both engaging characters that have an internal logic but have also shown growth. There’s possible redemption and damnation for these characters.

    Basically, everything that’s engaging and interesting about Breaking Bad is totally lacking in Mad Men and I can’t see what there is about Mad Men that’s worth watching besides the very obvious.

    Man, not to bag on the new BSG but that was just a train wreck. Like, there’s so much about that show that I wanted to like but at some point they forgot to make an character remotely likable. When every episode broke down to Adama doing that serious whisper, “damn it don’t you know the human race is at stake?” speech whenever he would do something awful and then seeing characters surprisingly pull guns out at each other it just got old. It’s the kind of show that felt like it was written by people who have never lived a real life of their own writing dialogue and stories they think are serious and adult. Seriously, if they ever had a character I wanted to survive I might have been on board but instead I was hoping for the robots to win because everyone was awful. Instead it ends with *SPOILERS* angels and cavemen sex.

  123. BREAKING BAD is definitely the best thing on AMC.

  124. Heh. Reading your “Breaking Bad is about something” comment made me think of my dad, Casey. He’s not really into subtle dramas. Watching something like Lost In Translation just kills him and always concludes with him saying “Nothing happened.” He demands physical action in a story. Give him something where a gun goes off instead. He needs plot points.

    Please don’t think I’m saying you’re like that, but it does make me think of how different people want different things from a story. I watch Mad Men for the brilliant subtext and the controlled performances and the themes of identity and the nuance. By now I care so much about those characters that even the smallest shift in their lives seems like a big deal. I will admit that it takes some commitment and time, though. You don’t get the instant buzz that you can get from a single episode of Dexter, but something about that show just connects with me. Kinda like some people prefer Audrey Hepburn to Angelina Jolie.

    P.S. No, I’m not gay.

  125. Nitpicking alert: Hyboria is the age when the stories of Conan are set. The continent itself was never named.

  126. Darth Irritable, since when Zack Snyder can be mistaken for a talented director? When did that miracle happened?

  127. Man, you should Robert E. Howard. I love that crazy writer.

  128. I caught this film (in 2D) yesterday, not because it was high on my priority list, but because this and CARS 2 were my only options at the little theater by my office. I have to say as generic as the plot and script are for this film the direction is even worse. I am not even going to focus on how poorly Nispel shoots and constructs his fight sequences. At best they feel like a highlight real of violent action beats edited together without any real relation to each other. The result is action that feels disjointed and inconsequential. However, it is not only the action that that feels inconsequential, the entire film suffers from a rushed paced that robs what little story there is of any weight. No scene or moment is ever given time to breath. Also, why does Nispel feel the need to add titles to the establishing shots of the different locations in the film. It is one of the most pointless and stupid decisions I have ever seen in a film, and speaks volume to Nispel’s tone def approach to story telling and pacing. Instead of establishing any sense of geography through visual story telling and allowing Conan’s quest to have a sense of momentum he often just cuts to an establishing shot of some castle or town and slaps a title on it that says “Fire Mountain” (or some shit like that). Not only is the decision lazy it is unnecessary to the film. As the viewer I don’t need to know the name of the town or the spooky cave they are headed to. It is completely irrelevant.

  129. Caught this last night. For the first 20 minutes or so, I thought maybe Nispel had finally figured out how to put together a series of images into, like, scenes, and then assemble those scenes into, like, a story. All the stuff with Lil Conan and Ron Perlman was pretty great. Shit, the kid’s fight with the wolfpeople was by far the best action scene in the movie. Dynamic, inventive, brutal, and it actually illuminated something about the character, unlike the mindless grunting and grappling that followed.

    But then Not Arnold showed up and it all became thoroughly uninvolving. It’s one of those movies that’s almost impossible to pay attention to. No momentum, no drama, no investment in the characters, plot, or even action beats. There were whole battle scenes that I’d realized I’d drifted off during, so I rewound, only to do it all over again. There’s something wrong with the way this guy edits together his footage. It’s like he cuts out all the frames that make things feel like they actually happened.

    Perhaps the early scenes were aided by the fact that they were mostly shot outside in daylight, so Marcus “Prince of Darkness” Nispel couldn’t shoot everything like the only available light he had came from some grip’s iPhone screen. There were shots toward the end where the only thing visible was the gleam off the bridge of some guy’s nose. I just don’t understand what this guy’s problem with light is. Is he one of those kids from THE OTHERS or something?

    Then it hit me that Nispel knows how to start a movie, but he can’t continue one to save his life. All the stuff in the alleged TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACE remake with R. Lee Ermy before Leatherface shows up is creepy and disturbing, but then it just becomes a generic stalk-and-slash music video. The extended pre-credits sequence of FRIDAY THE 13TH was exciting and inventive, but the movie that followed was pretty dull and tone deaf. The beginning of PATHFINDER was…well, to be honest I don’t remember a thing about PATHFINDER but I’m betting it started better than it ended. So basically what we’ve got here is a guy with a real stamina problem. He can get it up, but he just can’t keep it up.

    Also, demerits for Rachel Nichols’ obvious stunt boobs.

  130. speaking of Conan I recently learned that Robert E Howard was actually a real stylin’ lookin’ guy

    that is not what I expected him to look like at all, I thought he’d be like some old guy

  131. Mr. M, it sounds like you and I had similar experiences with this film. (MILD SPOILERS) Any momentum and promise the films has dies with Ron Perlman in the first act. However, I don’t think Jason Momoa made a bad Conan. Did you ever see IMMORTALS? It is another R rated swords and sandals flick that came out around the same time, but unlike CONAN 3D it is a surprisingly fun film.

  132. Oh man, I gotta disagree there. IMMORTALS was probably the boringest movie I saw last year. Pretty much unwatchably dull until the end when all the mutant whatsits started getting chopped up in slow-mo. CONAN 2011 was bad but IMMORTALS was worse.

    I agree that Momoa was decent. He seemed like he had some presence, but he was stuck in a series of dramatically inert scenes that did absolutely nothing for him.

  133. I just saw this. It was bad, but at least it wasn’t too boring.

    Rose McGowan can’t act. I’m sorry, I used to enjoy her two talents in movies like SCREAM and that kind of thing but she was just horrible in this movie. Painful to watch.

    Some of the special effects were quite impressive! The sand people especially – they seem to have been done with a mixture of painted up stunt guys and CGI, but the transitions between the two were the best I have seen. You couldn’t tell which parts were CGI for the most part until the sand guy got chopped in half and dissolved, and then you figured it probably was CGI. On the other hand some of the CGI was painfully bad, like the chain that Conan clotheslines a horse with that Vern mentioned. Really bad looking. Also a pretty bad green screen leap from a cliff.

    The filmmakers apparently believe that people are made of water balloons filled with blood. Stab somebody in the foot with a sword? Squish, blood splashes everywhere. Guy falls off a horse and bam flat into a rock? Splash! Blood!!! Glancing blow with a sword on somebody’s leg? It’s like somebody spilled a dixie cup full of red cool-aid. Every single time anybody gets hurt. Except Conan! During the halfhearted mid-film showdown with the big bad guy, Conan gets the double-sword to the face and flies 10 feet (!?!). There is blood on the sword(s) during the slow-mo falling scene, but no splash! And no blood on Conan, no significant wounds to recover from in a heartwarming scene where the princess falls in love, etc. Conan is just fine. Maybe just a bit winded.

    Sound design was equally squishy. When a bad guy runs into a gate, or a rock, or falls 5 feet, or gets a sword anywhere close to him – Squish! The sound effects crew must have had a field day with wet paper towels, squish squish squish.

    But if you watch it with a bit of tongue in cheek and accept all of these things as a sort of over-the-top parody of a good sword and sandals movie, it’s not too bad. A hell of a lot better than IMMORTALS, holy crap that movie was the worst I’ve seen in a long time.

    P.S. Don’t get me wrong… this is not a good movie.

  134. Doing some overtime at work on a Sunday afternoon, sitting at my desk listening to Basil Poledouris’ score for the original CONAN THE BARBARIAN. What a magnificent piece of music. Thunderous, moving. Pardon me, I’m just having a moment, thought I’d share it.

  135. Darren, now I’m having a moment too because I didn’t know/or forgot that Poledouris died! Besides his incredible scores to Conan and Robocop (among many), he also provided one of my favorite badass pieces of music from the Under Siege 2 soundtrack “The Gates of Hell/Penn’s Wish” which I basically call “the music that plays once Ryback starts doing the crazy hand shit in the kitchen”.

    I’m sad now not just because I learned Poledouris died in 2006 (I thought he retired or was maybe scoring foreign films or something), but because the world is literally a less cooler place without him – can you imagine if he had still been alive for the new superhero boom? (I literally cannot hum or recall ANY of the themes from any of the Marvel movies, and how badass would a Thor or Hulk score by Poledouris have been?)

  136. Poledouris has quite the resume. Apart from the classics already mentioned, I was surprised to learn he did ON DEADLY GROUND, FREE WILLY and (crocodile dundee in los angeles). Yes, I agree neal2zod, he is sorely missed. The last movie score from anyone of this decade that really caught my attention, and transcended the movie like Poledouris CONAN score did, was from LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Nothing else has really stuck with me since that one.

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