It seems like the only kind of movie news coming out of Hollywood these days is news of existing properties. Whether they’re remakes (boo), sequels (sometimes boo, too), prequels (in the case of Star Wars, double boo), or adaptations of books, comics, and TV series; the overwhelming majority of movie news is coming from one of these categories. And I think I’ve got a little of each one of these to report on today.
The underwhelming, impending reboot of Conan is like a great, listing ship trying to right itself in the wake of a rogue wave. I just don’t see it happening. I’m not sure what Millennium Films’ angle is here. Ever since they acquired the rights to the franchise in 2007, there has been talk of a more faithful adaptation of R.E. Howard’s Conan, and a return to the grittiness and realism that was present in John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian. But with the most recent casting information that has come out, it appears that Millennium is trying to appeal neither to the hardcore Howard Conan fans, or to the Milius Conan fans. In fact, it seems as though they are doing everything possible to piss both fan bases off by;
1. hiring a director who has only ever made terrible remakes (Marcus Nisepel),
2. casting Jason Mamoa (a guy who has neither the size or general appearance to fill the role) as the iconic Conan,
3. and by writing a script that seemingly has nothing to do with Howard’s Conan stories or Milius’ screenplays.
I’ve made it very clear that I’m a fan of Conan because of the the first Schwarzenegger film, Conan the Barbarian, and not because of the original Howard stories. But. I’d much rather see an adaptation of a Howard story than a remake of John Milius’ masterpiece, or some horribly written piece of shit script (straight to you from the writers of the God-awful Sahara, itself an adaptation of a Clive Cussler novel—so what does that tell you?) threaded together with the clichéd leavings of a hundred other sword and sandal flops. But I digress.
The latest casting decisions haven’t been all that bad, hard though it may be to overturn the awful ones that have already been made, but it’s the casting calls themselves that have put the nail in the coffin for me. These folks have NO idea what Conan is about, and they have clearly not tried to find out. In addition to Jason Mamoa as Conan, Bob Sapp as a villain, and Mickey Rourke as Conan’s father, it seems the studio is trying to hire Stephen Lang (fresh off of success as the tough-as-nails Marine in James Cameron’s Avatar) to play the main bad guy Khalar Singh. Read the casting call below:
He’s in his 40s to 50s, Asian or Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Mongol, Turkish, or Persian, open to all ethnicities; commanding in size and manner, a warlord and formidable warrior, brilliant, cruel, weathered and tanned by the many campaigns he has waged and won. He is driven in his quest to find the Queen of Acheron and has been building an empire to do so.His goal is to find the Queen whose blood will bring life to the demonic minions of Acheron while making himself king of this hellish power. With this power, Khalar will protect his legacy against the onslaught of master sorcerer, Thoth-Amon so that his weak son, Fariq may rule after his death. While riding into a Cimmerian village to recruit his old comrade, Corin, his large collection of mercenaries slaughters them to the last soul when Corin refuses to join them. The village’s only survivor was young Conan. When Khalar’s search has finally narrowed to the likely discovery of the queen at a monastery of female monks, he also learns Conan is older and hungry for revenge…
Huh? Which Conan stories have the producers been reading?
Yesterday word of Rachel Nichols being cast as the female lead was released.
She is 18 to 24 years old, Caucasian or Middle Eastern, open to all ethnicities; beautiful, studious, correct, a novitiate of a Greek influenced monastery. A master of martial arts, she has been trained to be the queen’s servant, bodyguard and best friend. She and many other female bodyguards to the queen have been in hiding most of their lives because of the curse of Acheron, which would take the queen’s life to bring almost immortal power to its king. When Khalar Singh, a powerful warlord with ambitions to become the king of Acheron, storms the monastery and captures all of the novitiates, she is separated from Ilira, the one she must protect. With all of her strength and will, Tamara is determined to find and rescue her. She finds herself in league with Conan because of a mutual need to find Khalar Singh. She is not in the least intimidated by Conan’s size or grim demeanor and their alliance eventually blossoms into something that surprises them both… LEAD
I feel a bout of nausea coming on just reading this drivel. Who are these people? About the only thing that I can find to like about this reboot is the fact that it is being filmed in Bulgaria, which is close enough to where the real Cimmerians lived long ago, and should serve as a pretty moody backdrop for the film. Here is a pretty good link to an article (rant) about the new film. Check it out.
Also, making it’s way around the internets is word of a new Ridley Scott prequel to his original masterpiece Alien. You can check out the article over at /Film for a more in depth discussion on that subject.
It seems some new remake is being brought up almost weekly these days. Such is the case with John Boorman’s Excalibur, the classic retelling of the Arthurian legend. Guy Ritchie is apparently now attached to a new treatment for Arthur’s Knights written by Warren Ellis. It’s being described as a Star Wars-like version of Arthur’s tale. If you’re scratching your head at that one, you’re not the only one. Ritchie and Ellis’ version may or may not be a direct remake of the Boorman classic, but it’s been reported that Bryan Singer has had his eye on the remake of Excalibur, so we’ll just have to see what happens. Read more about this one here.
In other movie news, the trailer for Tron Legacy should be available online next week. Looking forward to that one and I’ll post it as soon as it’s up. In related news, Disney announced this week that Tron will be adapted into a CGI television series. I’m not so sure about this idea, but I know they’re going to milk this for everything its worth.
It appears that Stephen King’s Pet Semetary (ugh, I hated this book!) will be getting its own remake, and New Line and Warner Bros. have announced that they will be returning to the world of Police Academy. Did I just hear a collective groan, or was it just me?
Stay tuned. I’ve still got my Oscar preview coming later, and whole lot more.