Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fantasy films update: Conan gets a director; A Song of Ice and Fire pilot gets green-lighted

Following are two news items that should be of interest to any fantasy fan. I'm not sure if these qualify as old news, but they're new to me:

1. Brett Ratner to direct Conan film. Although I will defend the original Conan the Barbarian film to the death (okay, not to the death, but maybe To the Pain), we're long overdue for a Conan film based on the actual character created by Robert E. Howard. This news, if correct, seems to imply that that's (sort of) what we'll be getting:

Ratner jibed to the "Conan" script by Gersh-repped Joshua Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly, who looked to Robert E. Howard's original pulp stories of the 1930s to create their take on the character. The writers are doing a quick polish to incorporate some of Ratner's ideas, with an eye toward releasing the film in 2010.

I can't say I've seen Rush Hour 3 or X-Men: The Last Stand, which the story states that Ratner has directed. I get the impression, however, that these are run-of-the-mill action movies, and I hope that's not we get in the new Conan film. It deserves better than to end up as another entry in the recent run of forgettable fantasy films (see Troy, King Arthur). Also, let's hope the writers' "take on the character" does not deviate too much from Howard's source material. Suffice to say that I don't think anyone will be reading Oppenheimer or Donnelly 70 years (and counting) after their deaths.

2. HBO green-lights A Song of Ice and Fire pilot episode. So in case you've been living under a rock, author George R.R. Martin is currently in the midst of penning one of the better epic fantasy series I've ever read, and now it seems that HBO will be testing the viability and popularity of A Song of Ice and Fire on the screen with a pilot episode.

If the pilot gains traction, I think this could be a very good, long-running series. HBO had a smash-hit on its hands with The Sopranos, and what is A Song of Ice and Fire if not a medieval version of modern-day gangsters? Martin's tale is replete with seamy politics, warring families, revenge, and shocking violence. My mind is already turning with the potential casting decisions.

I do hope that HBO realizes that George R.R. Martin may never finish the series (this is no sarcasm on my part--I am not at all convinced that it will happen). So brace yourself for the possibility of a cliffhanger ending that never gets resolved.

7 comments:

noisms said...

It's funny; I've had the same suspicion myself about A Song of Ice and Fire. I keep up with GRRM's blog, and he doesn't manage to convey much enthusiasm for the project anymore. In fact if anything he sounds rather like a kid being forced by his parents to finish off a homework assignment before he can run out and play.

That's his perogative, of course, and after the Lord of the Rings it's still by a long stretch the best fantasy series ever written, so we can't really complain even if there never is an ending.

andy said...

"I can't say I've seen Rush Hour 3 or X-Men: The Last Stand, which the story states that Ratner has directed. I get the impression, however, that these are run-of-the-mill action movies, and I hope that's not we get in the new Conan film."

The problem with Ratner is that he's a pure Hollywood hack. He has absolutely no vision of his own but he knows the basics of shooting a film, which has made him extremely popular with studio execs that only care about money, not quality.

I suppose the Conan producers are caving in on him because they're desperate to get something in production and they figure with his reputation as a yes-man they can control him and better steer the movie toward Howard's original writing, but most likely we'll get a flavorless, emotionally deadened film out of it.

Brian Murphy said...

Hey Noisms, I get the same impression. Even doubly so because A Dance with Dragons was supposedly already a great deal written three years ago; from Martin's own posts it was largely the material pared away from A Feast for Crows, including many of the point of view character chapters that didn't make it into Crows.

That was 2005; now its the end of 2008 and there's still no book. The portents aren't looking good...

Andy

Great, a hack--just what the Conan franchise needed. That's very discouraging. Maybe that animated Red Nails project will pan out and give us the pure Howard film for which we've always hoped...

Scott said...

I also don't have high hopes for Conan. And I bet they don't even get a bodybuilder type guy to be Conan. Instead we'll get a male model with abs and a pencil neck instead of classic Arnold.

Max said...

@Scott: And I bet they don't even get a bodybuilder type guy to be Conan. Instead we'll get a male model with abs and a pencil neck instead of classic Arnold.

I'd like to see someone who a) can act well enough to pull off some of the florid proclamations Howard's Conan likes to make ("You sit on satin and guzzle wine the people sweat for, and talk of divine rights of sovereignty — bah! I climbed out of the abyss of naked barbarism to the throne and in that climb I spilt my blood as freely as I spilt that of others. If either of us has the right to rule men, by Crom, it is I!" etc), and b) looks like he got his muscles swinging his fists and his sword, not pumping iron -- a boxer or MMA fighter's build, say, rather than a body-builder's.

The larger consideration for me is the overall story, which I fear will be workmanlike at best.

ligedog said...

I don't know if Howards dialog could be spoken by anyone but a British Shakespearean actor. Is there any current actors of that sort that could pull off the look of Conan?

kneesupwalking said...
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