Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cimmerian sighting: Good vs. bad art

All this talk around the web about the new Solomon Kane film has me thinking about bad vs. good art. Now, I have no idea whether Kane is a good film or bad. Although some of the early reviews I’ve read have dimmed my optimism, Kane may very well turn out to be the next “Skulls in the Stars” or “The Blue Flame of Vengeance.”

But consider a film like Conan the Destroyer. Many consider it as cheesy but fun, a fair use of an hour and half of one’s time on a rainy weekend afternoon. Personally I think it sucks, and lacks all of the atmosphere, fury, and grandiose bombast that made Conan the Barbarian a great film. But for the sake of argument, let’s just say you like rubbery demons, slapstick sidekicks, and films starring Wilt Chamberlain. That makes Conan the Destroyer harmless entertainment, right?

My equivocal, wishy-washy answer is both yes… and no. Let me explain.

To read the rest of this post, visit The Cimmerian Web site.

7 comments:

David J. West said...

Great insights Brian.

As for Destroyer I own it and feel a little more comfortable letting my 4 year old and 3 year old son's watch it over Barbarian because its tamer-Andre the giant in a giant rubber suit designed by the same guy who designed E.T. so you know its a kids movie and my kids love it.

Of course as soon as they are a little older 8 or 9 ? Somewhere in there I am gonna take them to school on the Gospel that is REH but for the moment this where I am OK with the shlock.

Wonderfully awful pic too.

Brian Murphy said...

Thanks David. I also own a copy of Conan the Destroyer (it came as part of a two-pack with the Director's Cut of Conan the Barbarian, which is awesome--the new ending and the commentary with Milius and Schwarzenegger alone are worth the price).

Was that Andre the giant in the Dagoth suit? Wow, news to me.

Taranaich said...

I myself was actually turned off from getting into Howard by the public perception of Conan exemplified by Destroyer and Barbarian: it's only when I made the connection that Howard also wrote Almuric that I decided to give the Conan stories a shot. First impressions can make or break enjoyment of a writer: I'm just glad I started on a high with "Tower of the Elephant".

I'm also quite ambivalent about the upcoming Solomon Kane, much as I'm very ambivalent towards Conan the Barbarian. At best, it'll be on the same level as the latter: not much to do with Howard's creation, but a worthy Sword-and-Sorcery film in its own right. At worst... well, let's not think about how bad it could end up.

David J. West said...

Brian-yeah the 2 pack is how I got my copies as well-I actually like the commentary on Barbarian, its how I got my wife to actually sit down and watch the whole thing with me-several times now.

IMDB credits Andre the Giant as uncredited as the Dagoth monster-I only read about that a couple years ago.

I hope (hand clutching Thor's Hammer-as seen in my authors photo over my heart) Solomon Kane is at the least a decent Sword and Sorcery flick-perhaps expecting a true retelling is just too much to ask at this time.

Brian Murphy said...

Taranaich and David: I feel the same way about Solomon Kane; I think the best we can hope for is another Conan the Barbarian. I'm still waiting for the day a director has the balls (and financial backing) to bring the real Howard to the screen. I know they all feel the need to "make Howard their own"; why can't they just trust in the fact that he's managed to remain popular and more influential than ever more than 70 years after his death? Why the need to tinker and "improve?"

E.G.Palmer said...

That Hollywood need to "make it their own" irritates the crap out of me. Write your own damn movie and stop tarnishing the work of your betters, is what I always think when I hear some pompous jackass blathering on about their new movie project. I'm really uneasy about the upcoming John Carter of Mars movie. I don't have any faith in the Solomon Kane film either.
The Hobbit might not suck, I've read some encourageing quotes about how they intend to treat Smaug. We'll just have to wait and see.

Eric D. Lehman said...

Yikes, the John Carter of Mars film! Forgot about that. I'm sure it is going to suck. (unfortunately)