Sunday, September 04, 2011

On Conan the Barbarian

I was scheduled to run some D&D on Saturday, but that fell through.  It's annoying, because I just have to get through this one game before I can restructure things into a sandbox style where the absence of a player doesn't matter.  But that's life as an adult, I'm afraid, and we made the best of it by going to the movies to see Conan.

I've been a Conan fan for a long time, starting with the movies from the early 80s.  I still love the first one despite its less than accurate portrayal of the lead character.  That Conan may not be much like the one in the stories, but Schwarzenegger is undeniably charismatic in the role and I feel like the atmosphere of movie Hyboria is very cool.  I'm not so keen on Conan the Destroyer, but it's still a fun movie despite lacking the thoughtfulness of the original.

From there I moved into the comics, around the time that Roy Thomas returned and pretty much disavowed everything that had happened since he left.  (I think he declared that the last decade's worth of comics was a year in Conan's life, and then got back to adapting Robert E. Howard stories.)  I'm a big fan of Conan in comics, particularly the 70s stuff and the current Dark Horse run.  If you haven't read any, the first volume of Savage Sword of Conan is out there, and is fairly cheap.  That's about as good as Conan comics get.

The comics, and most especially the essays Roy Thomas would include in them, got me to read the Howard stories, and those I love.  Red Nails and Black Colossus are probably my two favourites, but I've got time for just about all of them.  Howard's a great writer.

As for the new movie, on the whole I enjoyed it, and this is entirely based on the performance by Jason Momoa.  When he's not on the screen, it's terrible, in the way that all modern swords-and-sorcery movies are.  But Momoa has real presence, and is very much recognisable to me as Howard's Conan.  And the dude knows how to glower.  He's got that look down, where you just know some guy is going to get killed hard.

Of the Conan movies we've had, the modern one has a great Conan, and the old ones has a great Hyboria.  It would be nice to mesh the two together at some point.  And, of course, I'd love to see an actual Howard story get the treatment.  Hour of the Dragon is the one that I think would make the best movie, but Momoa's not old enough to play that Conan.  It doesn't even have to be a Howard story, just a good script would do, because I really want to see Momoa have another crack at the role.

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