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Kull the Conqueror

tn_kullKULL THE CONQUEROR is the story of Kull (Kevin Sorbo) but in my opinion it is kind of unfair to call him a conqueror. Honestly it’s more of a right-place-at-the-right-time kind of deal, like the end of CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK or like winning on Cash Cab. Let me explain how it all goes down.

At the beginning Kull is in a big battle with a bunch of knights. But it turns out to be a test. He’s trying to earn his way into the king’s elite army. He almost passes the test of a blindfolded flaming-sword duel with Thomas Ian Griffith (EXCESSIVE FORCE, Valek in JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES) but then Griffith finds out Kull’s from Atlantis and says forget it, we don’t work with barbarians. Destroyers maybe, barbarians – no fucking way. And this was the Hyborian age, so it was before they had laws about employment discrimination.

To our modern eyes these people all look like a bunch of primitive oafs, but to them there are big cultural differences between barbarians and, you know, knight dudes or whatever they call their people. And to be honest Kull really fits some of the barbarian stereotypes, for example he doesn’t know how to use a sword because he only uses a huge fuckin battle ax, and also he tends to go shirtless. He’s the only guy in this battle not wearing a shirt, so he stands out. (unless they were doing a shirts and skins type thing for the scrimmage, that is possible)

mp_kullIt just so happens that right after being blatantly racially discriminated against Kull witnesses the army getting called in to deal with the King (Sven-Ole Thorsen). Just a little incident where His Royal Majesty has gone mad and is murdering his own children. You know how it is. Being a barbarian and not having manners Kull just follows them into the castle, sees what a shitty job they’re doing dealing with it and intervenes himself. He ends up dueling the king and winning. The king knows him by name for some reason, that was kind of weird. But the king thinks his heirs are a bunch of dicks so as he’s dying he gives his crown to Kull. An excellent royal fuck you.

For a little bit this is one of those movies like DAVE or KING RALPH where an ordinary guy becomes the leader so they do common sense stuff to help out the regular joes and make the Man do a spit take and then faint. He tries to free the royal slaves, but his advisors say it’s against some ancient law that’s carved on a rock, so he back peddles. Actually he’s kind of like Obama, he wants to fix some shit but he also wants everybody to get along so he tries to placate all the fuckin babies that are really trying to take the throne from him anyway so he doesn’t get as much done as he should.

But he does get some small things done here and there, like he sees the soldiers whipping a priest named Ascalante. He asks why they’re whipping him and it’s because of his religion, so he makes them free him and says that men can worship whoever the fuck they want so fuck you you fucking assholes (paraphrase). He doesn’t get all nitpicky about separation of church and state like trying to get “By Crom” taken off the coins or anything like that. But he’s definitely pro freedom of religion.

Ascalante is played by Litefoot – remember him? I guess he wasn’t in too many movies but he was “THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD” and I guess this and MORTAL KOMBAT: ANNIHILATION must be what I know him from. He’s a Native American actor and they say he was a rapper but I sure never heard of anybody that ever heard his music. But maybe it’s good, I got no evidence otherwise.

Kull has a thing for a fortune teller named Zareta (Karian Lombard) and as the king he could order her to have sex with him, but she kind of gives him some shit about it so he feels bad and he frees her from his royal harem. But she chooses to stay willingly, just like Uncle Remus stayed with that white family in SONG OF THE SOUTH. But probly because she has a Kull-crush. Once you’ve gone barbarian there’s just no comparian. Remember that.

While Kull is distracted by love and progressivism the king’s heirs and others are conspiring against him. Some dude with a melted face digs up a coffin with a shriveled dead witch named Akivasha in it and magically revives her into red-headed Tia Carrere. She shows up at the palace when they’re showing him around to pick a bride and before he can choose Zareta, this Akivasha seems to do some kind of enchantment on him, some kind of ancient magic equivalent to today’s Ax body spray. So he marries the bitch.

Of course this is all a plot, so after consummating their marriage Akivasha poisons Kull and frames Zareta as a king-killer. This is a real good evil scheme except it’s thwarted by that great rhyming bumper sticker slogan I made up two paragraphs ago and asked you to commit to memory. She actually says it straight up, that she had planned to kill him but “after last night” decided to replace his body with a fake and keep the real Kull in her sex dungeon for further use.

Of course Kull the Conquered escapes, teams up with Zareta and Ascalante, and goes on a journey to find a magical thing that men have searched for for centuries that he thinks doesn’t exist that is the only way to extinguish the eternal flame of such-and-such. The worst part of this journey is not that he gets pissed on by a camel and people later smell it on him. After all, Truck Turner smelled like cat piss. No, the worst part is that he has to hang out with Harvey Fierstein. He’s an old connection from Kull’s pirate days I guess, Kull gets a ship from him and then insists that he come along. And watching at home you really, really hope that Harvey will have a scheduling conflict, but unfortunately he goes along. Actually it turns out that he tries to screw Kull over and Kull expected it all along, I’m not really sure why he brought him. Maybe he should’ve just brought his head. Sometimes these barbarians are not barbarian enough for my tastes.

Then there is adventures, etc.

During the final showdown Akivasha morphs into what must be her true form, a spindly animatronic demon with bat wings, claws and big, crooked, slimy monster teeth. She says, “Husband, kiss me,” which is real fuckin lucky because it just so happens that he needs to still_kullkiss her in order to freeze her with the magic breath. Talk about dumb fuckin luck – I mean, how would he have sold that if she didn’t coincidentally make a pass at him? “Hey lady, you are an evil ancient witch that brainwashed me, poisoned me, stole my kingdom and just now turned into a hideous monster. You wanna make out?”

I kinda don’t think it was intentional but I really dig the idea that this is an emotionally vulnerable moment for her, that in her monstrous true form she’s really self conscious and needs to be validated by having him kiss her. And that’s why he’s able to do it. If she was in her right mind of course she would know he was up to something if he kissed her, but she’s so emotionally fragile that she just needs it to be true and believes in it because why risk throwing it away if there’s some small chance that it’s real? What if he really sees beauty in her? Could it be? Actually now I’m kinda feeling sorry for her, this was kind of a Carrie-White-prom-queen moment from her perspective.

Not to spoil the ending, but let me tell you exactly what happens in the ending. Kull becomes king again and the first thing he does is abolish slavery. Well, I guess technically the first thing he did must’ve been to get the throne room re-decorated, unless I just hadn’t noticed the giant tiger mural in honor of his old pirating nickname. I mean that’s some straight up Saddam Hussein and/or Scarface type of lifestyle there, but other than that he is a good king in my opinion, so he takes his battle ax and smashes all the old rocks with the fucked up laws carved onto them. It’s a great symbolic fuck you because not only is he getting rid of the outmoded laws but he’s doing it with the weapon that symbolizes the Atlantean-barbarian heritage those assholes all give him shit about. Fuck ’em. Long live Kull.

The reason I watched this again was because I saw that new CONAN THE BARBARIAN and it wasn’t very good but I figured at least it was probly better than KULL THE CONQUEROR. But I couldn’t remember for sure so I watched it again. But it turns out KULL is way more fun than I remembered.

mp_kullrocksYeah, it’s cheesy, I can’t dispute that. Director John Nicolella had been around for 10 years but almost entirely doing TV, starting with Miami Vice. (He also did that weird Don Johnson rock musical HEARTBEAT.) Sorbo is kinda likable but kind of bland and not very badass. In order to thrive in syndicated TV he had to have just that right balance: seems like a nice guy, but no threatening awesomeness. Like anybody I’m not against him but not a big fan.

The handful of scenes that suddenly bust out the rockin’ guitars while Kull fights seem like a note from some clueless studio executive, a really misguided and condescending way to appeal to the young people (see poster and trailer). Well, they seem clueless, but of course whoever came up with that “Kull Rocks” idea sensed what the rest of us never could’ve, that those guitars would single-handedly catapult KULL into the hearts of millions of the youths, not only turning KULL into a massive box office hit and defining artistic work of its era, but also giving Sorbo the platform he needed to become the highly revered author and religious leader we all know him as today.

You know what on second thought I guess I’m remembering that wrong, I just looked it up and it only made about $6 million in the U.S. and then was mostly forgotten. It debuted #9 at the box office. EXCESS BAGGAGE came out the same week and that was at #7. That might’ve been the one I was thinking of that the young people loved and it changed the world and everything.

It’s kind of sad, actually – RED SONJA, KULL and the CONAN remake were all miserable box office failures. Not that those movies don’t deserve it, but how is anybody ever gonna make the good version of this type of movie when there’s no incentive to make one at all?

Anyway the CONAN remake is more gritty and badass than KULL, but KULL is an overall more entertaining experience and story in my opinion. Like a practice run for THE SCORPION KING.

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WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? Here is a really detailed rundown of different drafts of the script, and an interview with screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue about how it started as CONAN III, why he thinks they ruined his script and what a dick he thinks Rob Cohen is.

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 Monday, September 12th, 2011 at 11:38 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.

48 Responses to “Kull the Conqueror”

  1. That Pogue interview is somewhat entertaining, more entertaining than it should be for a guy who has no interest in this movie. He dislikes Rob Cohen immensely. This humors me.

    And he says, “Some people, sometimes, are afraid to do what they have to do to strive for greatness. It’s easier not to confront people on their shit. It’s easier. . . how can I put this diplomatically. . . Let’s just say collaboration got confused with capitulation, and I was the guy that ended up having to do all the capitulating.”

    In the process of paraphrasing 2 major Vern ethoses (Striving for Excellence/greatness and Don’t Be Ellis/Rob Cohen/Raffaella), Pogue probably fails to realize he’s also half echoing, on more than one level, yet another Vernism by way of a prescient Obama comparison, in that the history of the script & Pogue’s “capitulation” parallels what Vern sees in the Kull character in the finished product, as noted in the above review:
    “. . . but [Kull’s] advisors say it’s against some ancient law that’s carved on a rock, so he back peddles. Actually he’s kind of like Obama, he wants to fix some shit but he also wants everybody to get along so he tries to placate all the fuckin babies that are really trying to take the throne from him anyway so he doesn’t get as much done as he should.”

    This is some deep shit, art imitating artists imitating shitty art imitating life imitating politics.

    I bet Pogue’s original script had Tia Carrere getting naked in this, too. Damn you, Rob Cohen!

  2. Robert E. Howard´s Kull tales are even better than Conan stories. “The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune” is an amazing story.

    Ka nama kaa lajerama!

  3. True Kevin Sorbo story: He is a guest star at a convention. Shortly before his last autograph session, he tells the convention boss, that his manager (a former BABYLON 5 actress, who now specialises in managing SciFi/Fantasy actors in terms of conventions and shit.) wants to talk to him. Convention boss already had some encounters with her and knows where this is going, so he gets his lawyer and some staff members as witnesses and they start talking. Of course she wants to re-negotiate his fee and the conversation goes on and on and the demands get more and more shameless. The autograph session has already started an hour ago, but Sorbo is still sitting in this room and listening to his manager, trying to break the contract.
    Suddenly he gets up, yells at her for being such a stupid bitch (Okay, he didn’t call her that, but he has enough of her and her demands), apologizes to convention guy and leaves to give autographs.
    Sounds like a nice guy to me.

  4. And am I the only who loves the KULL score? It’s maybe the best orchester/e-guitar mix that I’ve ever heard in a movie. Something like that can become cheesy very quick, but here it works damn well and only adds to the fun factor.

  5. Rudolf Klein-Rogge

    September 13th, 2011 at 3:19 am

    Vern must be the master of google. How he digs up some of the stuff he uses to illustrate his reviews (pictures, videos, links) never seizes to impress me. That Pogue interview is real good. His hyperbole when discussing Lou Diamond Philips’ screen test, and the apparantly amazing talent of actors such as Kevin Sorbo, Thomas Ian Griffith and Jason Scott Lee (“I’m an actor’s writer!”) makes him sound clueless, but his putdown of Cohen is real good.

  6. Vern I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… PLEASE review Karate Kid 3. I guarantee Thomas Ian Griffith’s performance as Terry Silver will amaze you. That is all.

  7. “By This Axe I Rule!” is one of the best sword and sorcery stories of the 20th century. It’s seriously a true work of literature. It’s a masterpiece.

    And as El Vicento pointed out, the Kull stories in general are arguably in some ways superior to even Conan. H.P. Lovecraft preferred Kull to Conan and felt they were the peak of Howard’s fantasy stories. And, of course, THIS is what we get for a Kull film–one of the WORST fantasy films of all time. I sense the scaly hand of the serpent men in this somewhere….

    Anyway, “By This Axe…” was one of the major sources for Milius’ King Conan: Crown Of Iron script (which of course never got made) so at least people can read that and kinda see how it can be done right. (To tell the truth, a lot of Milius Conan was derived from the Kull stories–stuff like the Atlantean Sword, the Wheel Of Pain, Subotai, and Thulsa Doom.) Still, there WAS a great King Kull film to be made…once. Now….

  8. sorry to be off topic Vern, but I just thought I’d remind you that I’m patiently waiting for that Miracle Mile review

    and just for shits and giggles, two other movies I wish I had suggested are Communion and and Used Cars

    Communion is one of those movies that’s unintentionally hilarious, but also still a pretty good movie

    and Used Cars is one of the most underrated intentionally hilarious movies I’ve ever seen, it feels like a dry run for Back To The Future (like BTTF it has a surprisingly exciting climax)

  9. Cash Cab isn’t exactly a “right place right time” thing. I used to work at a video store and some people came in once and asked the clerks if they wanted to be on a TV show where they would take them record shopping and interview them. They signed the necessary documents and when they were picked up by the cab that they thought was taking them to a record store they were thrown into the unpredictable and exciting world of Cash Cab. It’s still kind of “right place right time” I guess, they just present it in a misleading way on TV.

    Keep up the good work, Vern, really been enjoying your recent pieces.

  10. You know what? I’m just going to come right out and admit it. I really loved this movie. I have the DVD. Oh I’m so ashamed! Not. It was funny and definitely not too serious. I think that’s what I didn’t like about Conan. TOTAL DRAMA QUEEN!!

    Of course you’re right about the music Vern. It was head scratchingly out of place.

    I was a little disappointed with Ligtfoot though. I really kept waiting form him to go all Nightwolf on some people.

    And why was he The Tiger? Wasn’t he a pirate? Shouldn’t he have been The Killer Whale? Oh no! Better one. The Kraken! I like that.

    Vern, I’m blowing you a kiss. Thanks for not really ripping this one a new asshole!

  11. this review is incredible. thanks vern.

  12. mac- Maybe it was Tiger as in Tiger Shark?
    I think the best thing to come out of Sorbo’s Hercules series is his sidekick, Michael Hurst going onto being a good TV director(he does the SPARTACUS shows).

  13. Oh come on, Hercules was pretty entertaining. At least it knew that it was cheese! And they loved to put EVIL DEAD jokes from time to time into their episodes. (They even had one about the Necronomicon, including an incantation that ended with Klaatu Barada Nikto!)

  14. I never said it wasn’t entertaining. Xena is better though.

  15. XENA is seriously underrated, if you ask me. It suffered from the small TV budget of that time, but it wasn’t afraid of going either completely silly, completely dark or even seriously experimental! These days every series has a musical episode and Joss Whedon gets all the credit for this, because he made one for BUFFY, but Xena had one first! And in this case the gimmick was even used to solve a seriously dark storyline, which was a brave move, if you ask me. And when a few years ago everybody went gaga over DESPERATE HOUSEWIFES jumping 5 years forward within their story? Nah, Xena did it first and they skipped 30 years in their last few seasons!
    They also once pissed off their audience by following the most depressing cliffhanger (Xena and Gabrielle getting crucified and dying side by side) with a light hearted comedy episode, that took place in modern time! (Which was in fact another brave move, since the theme of that episode was reincarnation.)
    Man, I’m sure it would be difficult to sit through every episode of it 10 years later, but XENA was so much more than skimpy dressed women fighting badly animated CGI monsters.

  16. Right on all counts. I remember the action sequences being pretty well handled too, especially the big one on one wire fu type ones, even if they did pretty obviously just steal those from certain HK films. Also, Zoe Bell was a stunt double in that too, wasn’t she? And also carried over from Hercules, we got Bruce Campbell as a recurring King of Thieves!

  17. Also if I remember right, the reason they did a extended story arc with Xena in Callisto’s body was because Lucy Lawless had fell off her horse and broke her pelvis, so needed to be written out for a while to recover. What a trooper.

  18. Man, the more I think of XENA, the more I wanna watch it again. Remember that season finale, where they gave Xena the power to kill gods and she killed the whole fucking Olymp excluding Zeus (who was killed by Hercules earlier), Ares and Aphrodite? That episode left me completely breathless.

  19. Never seen this one, can’t comment.

    BUT it seems that I have a problem with swords-and-sorcery movies. Thinking over the ones that I have seen, I’ve got:

    – Conan the Barbarian (went into this in the “Red Sonja” thread but basically I didn’t see what the big deal was with this one)
    – Conan the Destroyer (this is actually my favorite “swords and sorcery”-type movie because the parts of it that work do work, and the parts of it that don’t work are at least unintentionally hilarious)
    – Red Sonja (Some of it’s bad in a hilarious way, but a lot of it’s just bad in an off-putting way, so I can’t recommend this one)
    – Lord of the Rings (Like “Conan” I don’t hate or love it, some scenes worked and others didn’t)
    – Time Bandits (probably my least favorite Terry Gillam film)
    – Dungeons and Dragons (holy shit this movie was awful, Jeremy Irons is just about the only reason I could get through it)

    Y’see I love fantasy BOOKS. One of my favorite contemporary authors is (the sadly recently-deceased) David Gemmell. I think maybe you can get a lot more “into” a novel than a two-hour film in terms of themes, imagery, etc. But damn it, with the exception of Terry Gillam (dwarves fighting Satan in contemporary child’s nightmare) I don’t think any of the makers of the films I mentioned above even TRIED. Pretty much all of the films I just listed are straight revenge/quest stories.

    So my question I guess is: is it even possible to do an intelligent, thought-provoking film set in a fantasy swords-and-sorcery-type setting? Can anybody name one?

  20. Remember that episode where they found out a Persian army was invading, and they were going to go ahead to get reinforcements, but Gabrielle got poisoned, so Xena stayed to face the advance troop/garrison/whatever alone just on the off chance she could get the antidote off one of them?
    Or the China two-parter which ended with Xena apparently taking the higher road and rejecting vengeance, only for the last shot to reveal nah, she totally killed that fucker and just lied about it to Gabby?
    Or when she was turned insane by the Furies (resulting in a mix of goofy and genuinely upsetting behaviour) and was told she could only get out of it by fulfilling her family obligation to kill her father’s murderer…which was her mother?
    Or the really funny Groundhog Day type episode?

  21. Wait… did I just come to the conclusion that “Conan the Destroyer” was my favorite of a group of movies?

    Majestyk is right, I need help…

  22. Zombie Paul- While not a movie at all, Game of Thrones is one of the best series on TV right now. The first season wrapped a few months ago and I am counting down the days till the next season, while reading every casting and location piece of info I can find on the web.

    You say you like fantasy novels so I imagine you’ve all ready read it but yeah I’d put it side by side or even ahead of Lord of the Rings as the best adapted fantasy series ever created.

    Tia Carere was such a hotty in her day, what the fuck ever happened to her?

  23. The “Tiger” nickname is the result of Conan being known as “Amra the Lion” among pirates. The whole scene where Kull/Conan is recognized and leads a pirate revolt is taken from Robert E. Howard’s “The Hour of the Dragon”. It made a lot more sense in the original script, even though it didn’t exactly fit with Conan’s portrayal in the first two movies.

    (Incidentally, the amount of dialogue given to Conan in Pogue’s script is reportedly one of the things Arnold took issue with. Even though it was consistent with Howard’s stories, it didn’t fit very well with Arnold’s largely mute performance of the earlier films.)

    I also just realized that the “kiss the evil villain” ending is more or less taken straight from Ernest Scared Stupid. I’m tempted to say that’s a coincidence, but considering some of the decisions made for the rest of the film…who knows?

    Perhaps Kull’s greatest asset is the fact that it was made 14 years ago. By the time someone attempts another Conan film, say in a decade or so from now, there will probably be people saying, “You know, Conan 2011 wasn’t that bad.”

  24. Can’t help myself – here’s another Charles Edward Pogue script ruined by dum-dum producers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51a3pl4JH8M

    It is a shame that non-LOTR fantasy seems like a no go in the cinema. Game of Thrones is doing great on HBO – but the Howard stuff is all pretty scorched earth movie-wise.

    Maybe a comic-book based one – they seem to get greenlit. I’d love to see a movie made out of Slaine.

  25. Telf: I wasn’t sure if I should bring up that he wrote that one. I’m glad you did.

    Yeah, it’s weird. Lord of the Rings sparked a resurgence of fantasy cinema, but not the type that involves barbarians. Not unless they’re monsters, usually digital, always the bad guys. Nobody really talks about it but there’s a wicked anti-barbarian streak in Hollywood.

  26. It doesn’t make much sense – because the Barbarian-type character is way more of a Hollywood trope than they seem to realize. Especially in action movies. I mean. Mad Max, Dirty Harry, Riggs, McClane, Joe Huff, even Rambo are all kind of barbarians (they are all either willful anachronisms or somehow displaced from their natural or “true” environments). The aggressive outsider who comes in and messes with everything because he doesn’t know/care about the rules.

    But , yeah – outside of Milius, Fantasy barbarians never seem to attract talent. Presumably because of all the crap that came before. If someone could overcome the inherent goofiness and actually make a decent, sincere movie on a sensible budget, I think America could embrace the Barbarians.

  27. Are you trying to tell me the Barbarian Brothers weren’t talented?

  28. Holy shit, I’m going to agree with Paul.

    David Gemmell is rad. He only has like 4 different stories but I’ll be damned if I didn’t love reading them over 30 books. I’m not being sarcastic at all.

    His first two Rigante books are really good and Legend is a good afternoon-in-the-park read.

    A Game of Thrones is still a bad TV show and the most recent ASoIaF book was pretty bad.

    You all talking about Xena is making me interested in watching it. I somehow missed it.

    Kull is a pretty OK movie. It’s not awful and it has some charm.

  29. Casey – May I ask why you think GOT is a bad show. I’ve heard only good things. Always interested in fresh perspectives.

  30. I was a huge fan of the books. Really, I thought the first three were great and was willing to overlook the fourth.

    The show follows the first book pretty well but misses the mark in some really important ways. First, the characters are all terrible in the show. Ned is just confused and looks like the stupidest person in any room he’s in. The rest of the Starks have no real personality. More importantly, they’re all boring. The Lannisters came off as being much more reasonable and likable than the Starks. By the end of the show I was hoping Cersei would win just because she’s comes off as sympathetic and understandable (which is something that never ever happens in the books).

    They made the Dothraki into Klingons. Scenes involving Littlefinger and Varys are painful.

    It’s a real train wreck for so many reasons. Its biggest failing, and one that the books also have, is that it is so gratuitous in its sex and violence and the sex and violence only serves to make the show appear more mature and adult than it really is.

    There are some good parts. Tyrion is rad. Dany is OK and grew on me. I guess the actor that played Sam was alright.

    At the end, though, the show has all the problems the books have and lack some of the subtlety that made the first book interesting. It’s painfully obvious to see which “main characters” will die (here’s a hint, if you can’t describe an actual personality that the character displays than they’re going to die) since characters are either well defined and 3 dimensional (Tyrion and well, Tyrion) or they’re either a tomboy, honorable, scheming, a mother, or otherwise 1 dimensional and probably going to die or be made irrelevant.

    I probably like it less than I should because of my expectations but it is nowhere near as good as it should be or as good as people make it out to be. It’s no Breaking Bad or The Wire and shouldn’t be discussed as though it is.

  31. Wow Casey I won’t try to change your opinion on the show because, well, you’ve seen it and you know what you like and what you don’t so who am I to tell you different.

    That aside can I ask why you didn’t like the latest book? I thought it was a vast improvement over the fourth(which is still better than 99% of fantasy literature out there), and although there was a great deal of exposition and maybe too much meandering with Dany in Mereen the plot really moved forward for lots of characters in amazing ways. If you are into ASOIAF theories it was incredibly dense with information for people who really get into that shit.

    SPOILERS for book 5 of ASOIAF
    Some highlights for me obviously are Janos Slynt FINALLY getting what was coming to him, more dragon related chapters and happenings than all the other books combined including Danys first flight and that amazing attack by Drogon in the fighting pits, everything having to do with Theon and Ramsays bastard Roose who is one of the most fucked up antagonists ever created I mean the dude hunts down and rapes a nine year old girl with a pack of dogs and flays the flesh off of multiple toes and fingers for fun, Wuw Wun and the Thenns up on the wall, a description of the Doom that took out Valyria, Melisandre POV chapters, and fucking my favorite of all Lord Manwoody tricking the Freys into eating their own cousins with an assortment of “pies” at the feast. I don’t think it’s as good as Storm of Swords or Game of Thrones but it’s def as good as Clash of Kings and way better than Feast for Crows.

  32. My problems with the newest book is that it brought the fantasy aspects to the forefront. Before it always felt like it was a historical drama that just happened to take place where there was a little magic.

    SPOILERS
    I don’t like how everyone is now a Targeryan. I didn’t like the dragons having so much time. I didn’t care for Melisandre as a character. As much as Jon annoys me, mostly because he has no real personality outside of “angsty heroic bastard”, I thought his ending was stupid and will be doubly stupid when Melisandre brings him back. Hell, even if he doesn’t it still won’t matter because he wasn’t a real engaging character so I don’t care.

    I liked the series because it seemed to focus on interpersonal drama that affected the world at large. The Red Viper and Gregor, the relationship between the Cleganes, Davos and Stannis, Tyrion and his family, and lots of other really great dramatic stories and moments propelled the narrative and impacted a much wider story about politics. I didn’t see any of those stories in the new book. I don’t care what disgusting things happen to Theon, I don’t care about Tyrion hanging out with sellswords, I didn’t care about what was going on the Wall (well, I cared because I didn’t like it), and so many other things.

    Maybe I’ve been reading it for all the wrong reasons. Outside of David Gemmell and Lord of the Rings I have not really read much Fantasy besides having some really nerdy interests. I mostly read Great American Novel type bullshit or political / economic theory but I used to be really excited for GRRM’s series. Now I just hope he rushes and finishes up so we can have the Others come down from the North and Dany can reconquer Westeros and save the day with her dragons. I hope that only takes two more books.

    I really hate to sound like a big time hater or whatever. I’ve given out the books as gifts. I was looking forward to the show. I’m just tired of GRRM confusing “character” with “time spent with people”. It’s not shocking when he kills a one dimensional guy who we spent a lot of time with. I never cared about Ned, Robb, Jon, or most of the people who shockingly died. Hell, the only people I ever cared about with he knew he gave them a lot of personality because he was a total cock tease with their fates. I like Brienne, Davos, and The Hound and he knows that cliff hangers with them is effective because they actually have depth and personality.

  33. Hmmm…I liked Rob and Ned quite a bit so I can’t really agree with you on them having no character. In fact I’d say Ned had more “character” than any other man in the series. The Red Wedding was easily the best chapter of ANY book I’ve ever read, and that was in no small part due to the connection I felt to both Robb and Catelyn. I sat there with my jaw dropped in dis-belief after that event played out, seriously unable to believe what I’d read.

    I would agree that ADWD was in serious need of some Brienne, Sandor and more Davos than what we were given, but I was happy with what we got. It’s such a large scale sprawling epic that I feel he’s justified splitting up the POV’s from book to book.

    As far as the Theon chapters though, it’s more than just “oh cool this guy’s being tortured”, there’s some serious psychological damage being inflicted to the guy. He’s suffering from Stockholme Syndrome to the point where he can barely even remember his real name in the first few chapters. And Roose is such a fucked up character(one of the few in the series who seems to be purely evil, with no real nuance) I find him incredibly fascinating. Dude takes daddy issues to a whole new level.

    But anyway thanks for your opinions, I like hearing what other people like and dislike about my favorite series.

  34. You have me really confused Paul. You are citing CONAN THE DESTROYER as a favorite sword & sorcery movie (while admitting it is pretty bad). That I get, totally. However, all of your posts regarding CONAN THE BARBARIAN seem to indicate that your memory on it is fuzzy overall- but the things that you DO recall are all things from CONAN THE DESTROYER, not CONAN THE BARBARIAN. Making me wonder if you are totally confusing the two movies. How else can a movie you claim as a favorite be completely mish-mashed in your memory with another movie that you seem to have little or no affection for.
    By Crom, I think you should sit down and watch both of them back to back. Refresh yourself on them and then come back with your thoughts.

  35. Eric Rudoloph’s (the Atlantic Olympic bomber) last act as a member of proper society before his FIVE YEARS in hiding, apparently all of them spent living in the woods like a damn caveman, was to return his rented copy of Kull the Conqueror to his local video store before dropping out of civilization and having a full time career of evading the FBI.

    He was not a good person, and and there’s nothing to be mythologized about his ‘man on the run’ story, but I always did find it humorous that he spent years away from society, and in all those nights and days spent in total solitude the freshest movie on his mind was Kull the Conqueror. I’ll bet he wished that the last movie he ever saw was something a bit more substantive, or at least, better.

    “Shit man, I coulda rented Heat, or Quiz Show, or Pulp Fiction, or even friggin Forrest Gump.”

    you get what you deserve asshole, just be glad you didn’t pick up Fled.

  36. I wish I had some kind of “comment of the day” ribbon to add to posts like Max’s. Thanks for that trivia.

  37. That is incredible. It’s kind of more amazing that he went to the effort of returning it. He didn’t want anyone to miss out.

  38. Eric fucking Rudolph, the bane of both North Carolina history and US Army airborne & air assault history. I guess it’s somehow a good thing that his video rental history proves him to be a nerd, and probably a virgin.

  39. Oh shit, just saw Vern’s response. Yeah, make that ribbon happen. Bravo, Max.

  40. Wow, if this had happened in Germany, I’m sure some politicians would have tried to ban KULL, for causing people to become terrorists.
    (Yes, you laugh, but back then some politicians wanted to ban BLADE 2, even though it wasn’t even running in German theatres at that time, because one kid who ran with a gun through his school and killed some of his fellow students and teachers, had a poster of that movie in his room!)

  41. fucking lol at that Eric Rudolph story

  42. CJ Holden: The German people would have been better served with a simple warning sticker on all copies of BLADE 2: “Warning: Skating Uphill Is Not Recommended.”

  43. I will not post them publicly, but a close friend showed me some email correspondences with Progue is a world class douche. And a world class douche with no career, based upon the amount of time and space he spent writing nasty letters to my buddy for asking an innocuous question.

  44. *with Progue that demonstrate him to be a world class douche.

  45. could you at least give us a few details Tawdry?

  46. My buddy had a film concept that he thought had some potential. He sent it out to a few professional writers he knew, Pogue among them. Pogue sent back a 2,000 word email bashing my friend for having the gall to ask for advice. And then another, and then a third.

  47. The way for your friend to even the score would be to adapt the emails into a movie but change things around so that it doesn’t capture the spirit of the source material.

  48. Vern, you’re my fuckin’ hero. If and when I ever get a movie off the ground, you’re gonna be offered a commentary track on the DVD. I already give you shout outs in as many video interviews as I can.

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