Friday, October 26, 2012

Reel Facts & Opinions: The Return of CONAN

FACT: Various news outlets are reporting that Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to return as Conan in THE LEGEND OF CONAN in 2014.
Schwarzenegger first appeared as the sword-wielding, fur-wearing, camel-punching brute in John Milius’ CONAN THE BARBARIAN in 1982, and then the less-than-stellar sequel CONAN THE DESTROYER (1984). An even lesser-than-stellar remake/reboot sans Arnold took a dump on movie screens in 2011. This new entry looks to ignore that remake/reboot and link directory back to the original 1982 film, with an aging Conan nearing the end of his days of high adventures.

OPINION: Although the news of Ah-nold returning to the role which first made him a star is exciting news, the real story here is the return to that brutal yet magnificent world John Milius crafted for us thirty years ago. CONAN THE BARBARIAN has aged extremely well, gaining even more respect now than it did when it was first reviewed. Its large and epic scale with heavy-handed themes of love, life, and religion (backed by Basil Poledouris’ tremendous score), gives it a David Lean/LAWRENCE OF ARABIA vibe which is timeless and beautiful.
Schwarzenegger’s return to the role immediately demands some quality filmmaking. This cannot be handled as a watered-down, PG-rated, 90-minute Generation YouTube flick which gets released in the dumping ground of February. Sadly, the script is currently being written by Chris Morgan, who has written the last four dumbass FAST AND THE FURIOUS films. But any script can be turned around with the right director. As of this writing no director has been announced, and assuming John Milius won’t be back on board (he is 68 and hasn’t done much lately), this Blogger humbly submits his top three choices, plus one dark horse.

1. Edward Zwick. Let’s look at Edward Zwick’s resume: DEFIANCE, BLOOD DIAMOND, THE LAST SAMURAI, THE SIEGE, COURAGE UNDER FIRE, LEGENDS OF THE FALL, and GLORY. The man really hasn’t made a bad film in his career and won’t stand for piss-poor writing. His touch is never heavy-handed, his battle-scenes are excellent and his composition of character and story is always perfect. The studios would be fools to overlook him.

2. James Cameron. He has proven he can handle things on an epic scale (AVATAR), has worked with Schwarzenegger before (TERMINATOR 1&2, TRUE LIES), and doesn’t lose his characters amongst his large backdrops (TITANIC). His broad-stroke style of storytelling would be well-suited to the simplicity of a CONAN film.

3. Darren Aronofsky. His films have always been very intimate (BLACK SWAN, THE WRESTLER, THE FOUNTAIN, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM); courtesy of his attention to detail and strong writing. He could make an excellent character study out of a CONAN film. He has a lack of experience in vast, epic filmmaking, but that may change in a hurry once he gets done with his upcoming Biblical film NOAH.

And this Blogger’s dark-horse pick is…Mel Gibson. Yes, you read that correctly. Say what you will about the man’s personal problems, but there is no doubting his filmmaking skills. He has done the large scale battles without losing character and story (BRAVEHEART), and can be gentle and intimate while retaining brutality (THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST). He has a lot in common with Arnold; roughly the same age, products of 80’s action flicks, and both have had their acting careers take unpredictable turns. If anyone can relate to and get a great performance out of King Conan, it would be Mel.

For your consideration…


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