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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hyborian Hype of the Cimmerian Barbarian

Still recovering after the Holiday festivities?
Me too.
With so much goings on in just one day I find it rather taxing to slide back into the whole "work" thing.  Needless to say yesterday saw me rather lax.  I ended up being replaced by Angela and Kaleb so i could meander about shopping at Wal-Mart.  Now before you jump me and brand me a hypocritical heretic, the grandparents sent Wal-Mart gift cards for Christmas, and as they won't allow you to cash them in...well whats a boy to do?
We asked the kiddos what they wanted to do with the cards and after much discussion (and a little coaxing from Mom and Dad) they decided to pool their money and buy one big gift for the family.  As they already have a game system they opted (with the older boys help) for a Blue ray surround system.  So I, Elijah and Owen spent the afternoon setting it up.
Well no good surround system can be properly tested unless you have something with a lot of action to bring out the boom!  Originally we wanted to get "Cowboys and Aliens" but the local Red Box was out, so we opted for the newest Conan.
Well, after the annoying bout of skips (I thought Blue Ray were suppose to be skip proof!) We got into the meat of the movie.
It's been close to 30 years since the Cimmerian has seen the silver screen, and while at the time (hey I was a kid) it seemed really cool, more refined tastes decry Arnold's performance as rather campy.  He was still new at the whole acting gig, and hadn't got his chops yet.  But this new one?
I'm still having a bit of an issue as to whether I liked it or not.
I'll 'splain
Truly graphic in it's depiction of gore and violence (directed by Marcus Nispel (Pathfinder, Friday the 13th remake, Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake)) it rips through the origins of Conan and his early life like a bloody scythe.  Literally "born" on the battlefield the CGI image of the enemies sword thrusting through his mothers womb sets the tone for the film, as Conan's dad (played by none other then Ron Perlman) has to finish the incision to deliver the child.  Well, I had to cover mommas eyes for that bit of celluloid gold!  The movie doesn't let up.
As the story progresses I was initially turned off as scene after scene was reminiscent of "Lord of The Rings", "300", "Batman Begins" etc. etc.
But then a little voice in the back of my head, the same boyish one that for nearly a decade revelled at the Marvel Comics exploits of Conan, said in no uncertain terms, it's not Conan that's copying them!  They copied Conan!
It's true! 
Conan was created by legendary pulp fiction author Robert Ervin Howard.  Having first appeared in Dec, 1932 in the pages of "Weird Tales" in a story entitled "The Phoenix On The Sword" it is lauded by most as the beginning of the Sword and Sorcery genre of Fiction.  Predating J.R.R Tolkiens "Hobbit" by five years.  Sadly Mr Howard committed suicide a meer 4 years later after 17 stories had been published, as he was informed his mother would succumb to Tuberculosis.  Fatefully though in March of that same year Robert in a letter to Conan fan and fiction author P. Schuyler Miller and chemist Dr. John D. Clark he outlined Conan's history, motivation (or lack thereof ) and character development concepts. They themselves had developed a map of Conan's world from Mr Howard's stories.  And as the stories were written in a first hand account they had a tendency to jump around in narrative from one time period to the next, following no defined, linear time line.  You knew what happened to him as a child and as an aged king, and a 20 something pirate, so the job of connecting the dots made for much story fodder!
 With all that in mind it made the movie much more palatable, as it truly was much more to the spirit of Mr Howard's Barbarian.

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