It seems increasingly likely that Conan will be hitting our screens once more in The Legend of Conan. With Arnold Schwarzenegger back in the head-lopping eponymous hero’s blood caked pants! How bloody exciting is that for a life long fan of the Cimmerian adventurer?
I’ll tell you: it’s fairly exciting. Nothing more.
Apparently the new movie is going to be set 30 years after the original John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian film and will skip the events of both Conan the Destroyer and the more recent re-imagining by Jason Mamoa. So surely I should be excited. The thing is, the original movie was by far the best and it didn’t really do it for me.
I should point out here, that I have been a massive fan of Conan since the age of 10. There are few people on the planet who were more of an expert on Conan that I was by the age of 13. By that point I had read every Conan novel that existed. My Savage Sword of Conan collection still takes up a small corner of the spare room at my parent’s house.
If Milius’s movie had been a straight Barbarian fantasy movie then I would have loved it. But this was Conan and I didn’t think they had got it right. Arnie was wrong for the role. Conan was quick witted – a survivor. He wasn’t just big, he was also quick and savagely well coordinated. He could be sullen with a fierce violent anger one minute then a joyful ‘let’s have a pint and wench’ kind of guy the next. He lived life to the absolute max and oozed lady-impressing barbarian charm while doing it. Arnie just came across as big, dumb, and fairly violent. Physically, Mamoa was a much better Conan and he was better with a sword and could speak and stuff.
Having said all that, Arnie may now be almost perfect as the Barbarian King in The Legend of Conan. Few people can match his physique at his age and he still seems pretty limber for a 65 year old. He also has considerably more charisma and leadership skills thanks to Californian election charisma wizards. So I’m actually ok with him now.
The problem I have is with how the movie is likely to go. Hollywood is bollocks at moral ambiguity most of the time. Conan is a decent guy at heart but he actually really enjoys a healthy bit of violence and is very quick to stab someone in the face if they’re annoying. He’s a bit like a Barbarian James Bond but he isn’t doing it to save the World, he just does it because it’s who he is and it’s a laugh. I just don’t think they will pull that off.
But most damning of all is this from the Dark Horizons website:
“Chris Morgan (“Fast Five,” “Wanted”) has created the story and nicknames it “Conan’s Unforgiven.” He could be writing the script depending upon his scheduling as he also has to shortly pen a script for a possible seventh “Fast and Furious” film to follow the currently shooting sixth one. Morgan will also produce.” (http://www.darkhorizons.com/news/25359/arnie-returns-for-legend-of-conan)
So that’s the story and the calibre of writing they are going for. Also worrying is that it may not even be R rated.
I have waffled on a lot longer than the paragraph I intended to write. I just care that’s all. Read a Robert E. Howard Conan story and think how brilliant a Conan film could be. (They were written 80 years ago and are therefore “classics”.) I’m trying not to be excited as I know I will probably be disappointed.
Here’s a gratuitous picture for no reason except that Frank Frazetta painted a good Conan.