Four score and nearly seven days ago (minus the four score, and really only 5 days ago) I concluded a review for Terminator Salvation with the quip "So, when's someone going to lift the dusty hood of the Conan franchise and jump start that sucker?". Well, to my surprise I heard today (thanks, dad) that a director has been chosen to helm the Conan reboot. German director Marcus Nispel will call the shots for the next pic based on native Texan Robert E. Howard's early pulp/fantasy stories. Nispel directed the remakes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and Pathfinder (based on a Norwegian film of the same name). These are, as far as I'm concerned, strikes against the man already. But! Peter Jackson started in the horror/slasher genre and he turned out the be pretty okay. So, I'll give him a chance.
Reportedly the script was written by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, co-writers of Sahara and Sound of Thunder. Sahara? Really? This is getting worse by the minute.
Several news outlets are also reporting that Roland Kickinger is in talks to play the buff barbarian this time around. You might remember me mentioning him on an earlier post/preview for Terminator Salvation. He is an Austrian bodybuilder turned actor that looks a helluva lot like Ahnold, has played the Governator in an A & E biopic about Schwarzenegger, and doubled for Arnold as a prototype T-800 in Terminator Salvation. However, the story has changed throughout the day. First it was being reported that Kickinger was in talks to do the film. Later the report was being put down by Latino Review in this article, but EW has now picked up the story and is claiming that Kickinger is THE choice. Freakin' internet! We'll have to wait to see how it all shakes out. Filming is supposed to begin in Bulgaria this fall.
I became a fan of Conan because of my dad's influence. I watched the movie (probably before I was old enough--thanks dad) as a kid and really fell in love with the first film. We came to Conan by different roads, though. He by way of the comics and early serial novels. And I came to the character through John Milius' film adaptation Conan the Barbarian. Honestly, I could care less about the Howard stories. I think, and I know I will be considered a blasphemer for this, that Milius and company did a better job of conveying the Conan mythology and the idea that his story could actually be our history, than Howard's books did. I just know that some rabid fan is sticking needles in a voodoo doll of me somewhere at this moment. I wouldn't be surprised if several of them are dancing naked around a bonfire prepared for my sacrifice to Crom in my front yard later tonight. Conan fans are serious, folks, and many of them see the first two films as botched attempts at bringing Howard's creation to the screen. Coincidentally, I would agree with them where the second film is concerned, but that was not a Milius movie or script.
Anyway, my point is that I hope the new guys take a serious approach to the new film, attempt to bring some type of historical context to it and try and make it believable. Kickinger aside, I worry about the casting of the famous character. How will anyone ever be able to bring the kind of simmering ferocity to the role that Schwarzenegger did? His onscreen presence is hard to come by, and rarely duplicated.
If anyone in Hollywood is listening right now, hear me: Please do not use this film as a reason to crank out a bunch of ridiculous, effects heavy monsters and magic. Give this film a voice. Give it Conan's voice.
"And if you do not listen, then to hell with you!"