Depressed about movies

This is gonna be a bit of a rant.

I am, I will admit, a nitpicker. But recently I was watching “Conan the Barbarian”, and it struck me how much more work they put into that than Jackson did into Lord of the Rings.

That is, “How much work they put into the pulp, racialistic nonsense of the least intelligent member of the Lovecraft circle, and how very little they put into one of the masterpieces of English literature!”

I realize Conan is bound to come out ahead, because it can’t help but be better than its source while LOTR is doomed to fail, but still. They seemed to be taking the Conan film so much more seriously.

Nobody seems to be willing to invest any time and effort on anything in movies anymore, or take even a tiny risk. All the action movies star the same people they did when I was born–Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis–and there don’t seem to be any possible replacements.

All the science fiction movies lately have been euro sf (dystopias with low tech, therefore no need for a budget) or mere eye-candy (high tech, but none of it realistic), and neither has had much in the way of story. As for fantasy, it’s all been children’s stories except Jackson’s LOTR–and that was fairly mediocre. What, I ask, of the great heritage of fantasy fiction? Yes, most of the High stuff is actually pretty bad, but there’s the pulps: Leiber, Smith, maybe another Conan film, Jack Vance’s Dying Earth–heck, I’d be thrilled if Wizards of the Coast would license the first Dragonlance trilogy (Raistlin, anyone? Tasslehoff?!)! But no, more kid books.

You’ve GOT to be kidding me.

LOTR contains the most intricately detailed set designs, costume designs, and special effects, with an impressive screenplay that is, while not perfect, makes the labyrinthian plot accessible over three movies (and is miles ahead of Bakshi’s).

Conan is pulp, pure and simple. Yay for any film with James Earl Jones turning into a snake. But Conan is a culmination of a handful of great set pieces… nothing more.

Nobody seems to be willing to invest any time and effort on anything in movies anymore, or take even a tiny risk. All the action movies star the same people they did when I was born–Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis–and there don’t seem to be any possible replacements.

Action films have evolved… the action superstars today thrive on either realism (Matt Damon, Clive Owen, Daniel Craig, Russell Crowe), or hyper-realism (The Rock, Vin Diesel, all-these-comic-book-movies). It’s also more about the story than the set-pieces; surely you would agree that Apocolypto is one of the great action films of the decade–devoid of stars and English?

The problem with the action films of the 80s/John-Woo-90s is that they were great for their time, but there’s not much more creative pulp one can squeeze out of this admittedly light genre. After Schwarzzenegger mocked the genre in Last Action Hero and True Lies, he tanked with Batman and Robin, and never recovered. If it weren’t for politics, he’d still be struggling to find a job.

All the science fiction movies lately have been euro sf (dystopias with low tech, therefore no need for a budget) or mere eye-candy (high tech, but none of it realistic), and neither has had much in the way of story. As for fantasy, it’s all been children’s stories except Jackson’s LOTR–and that was fairly mediocre. What, I ask, of the great heritage of fantasy fiction? Yes, most of the High stuff is actually pretty bad, but there’s the pulps: Leiber, Smith, maybe another Conan film, Jack Vance’s Dying Earth–heck, I’d be thrilled if Wizards of the Coast would license the first Dragonlance trilogy (Raistlin, anyone? Tasslehoff?!)! But no, more kid books.

I believe they’re moving a lot of the adult series into a mini-series format… similar to Battlestar Gallactica and the remake of Dune. I believe the George R R Martin “A Game of Thrones” is in talks for such development.

I have heard rumors of a Lankhmar movie, but little hard information.

In the meantime, you might want to check out Vidocq – it’s more steampunkish but it sounds right up your alley. Hope you like subtitles (or can understand French).

Check out: Russian Ark - “I open my eyes and see nothing.”

Is this a joke?

What little I saw of Conan I enjoyed, but I haven’t read to book, so I was bound to like the movie. Had I read the book, I’m certain I would have disliked the movie, or what little I saw of it.

I get rather tired of people calling the LotRs tricky and complex. Long, yes, but complicated? No. Not at all.

I even saw one person (not here) comment on how the Silmarillion was made up of unconnected stories! It’s all connected, people! It’s in the title, for goodness sakes!

And if directors or producers cannot do justice to a story, they ought leave it alone. Better to not have a movie than an insult to the IP.

(Do you 'spect they’ld ever make a “Song of Ice and Fire” movie?)

I can’t believe there is even a comparison between Conan and LOTR. Even beyond the story, the effort in LOTR was epic and one of the biggest projects ever. The box office spoke this opinion loudly.

Anyone for Solomon Kane? How about Elric?

Conan was wonderful when it first came out. Over the years it has gotten “worn”. And Conan the Destroyer was…won’t go there. The thing I have always waited for (and probably won’t ever see) was the end shot as Conan of Aquilonia - will we ever see Conan as King of Aquilonia.

And don’t even get me started at how much Kull was a let down.

How about John Carter of Mars?

Check out: Russian Ark - 2,000 Actors. 300 Years of Russian History. 33 Rooms at the Hermitage Museum. 3 Live Orchestras. 1 Single Continuous Shot.

The movie was almost universally praised by film critics. Roger Ebert wrote about the film: “Apart from anything else, this is one of the best-sustained ideas I have ever seen on the screen…{T}he effect of the unbroken flow of images (experimented with in the past by directors like Hitchcock and Max Ophuls) is uncanny. If cinema is sometimes dreamlike, then every edit is an awakening. Russian Ark spins a daydream made of centuries.”

Dude, this may indeed be a great movie, but it doesn’t fit this thread, predominantly about comparing fantasy epics and action films across the decades…

Dude,

It’s a fantasy epic beyond compare and capable of providing relief for depression. Go ahead, check it out.

No, it’s a history lesson. Start your own thread, please.

One of the problems I see in Hollywood in general is the writers. You note the poor heritage of fantasy fiction in films. I tend to agree. And not just fantasy. But Hollywood is such an inbreeding of nepotism, they have isolated themselves from many of the actually talented writers. I mean how many sequels or historical movies or books-to-movies can we do. Is anyone writing new screenplays??? Too few. There’s also a marketing factor. Movie-goers today tend to eat up the special effects and sequels without regard to story.

Heard of Vidocq, vaguely.

Heheheh…I love subtitles, and speak (fairly well) two dialects of French, standard and Cajun.

And I do like the *look *of steampunk–but nobody does a scrap of historical setting, except the Japanese (because for them it’s the Taishou era, which was a little fragile blossom of peace between Meiji and Showa, so they think it was a golden age and love to play with it–Sakura Taisen, anyone?).

Difference Engine, for instance, ought to be grounds to lock up its writers. Yes, they got a couple of socio-economic trends maybe 1/3 right…but they didn’t bother to read any books from the era to see how people actually talked. Adding “Sir” and “Miss” to the same dialect they always write in, does not a period piece make.

Kull was a huge letdown–it was like Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, but not funny or well-directed. And the butt-rock soundtrack: the pain!

Personally I strongly dislike Moorcock, and Solomon Kane doesn’t ring any bells. But John Carter of Mars is okay–it’s among Burroughs’ better works.

Me, I’m hoping someone does Lankhmar. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser: sword-and-sorcery buddy picture, anyone? There’s a couple of other members of the Lovecraft circle (Clark Ashton Smith, for one) whose stuff could make good movies. Or they could make the Man himself, HPL, if they’d just realize it needs to be done obliquely, the way the stories are: they always show far too much.

Or maybe they could do C.J. Cherryh’s Qhalur Gate series, though they might have problems with the third book–Azeroth means Warcraft, to most people. Although I’d question whether the Dark Portal in that game isn’t a direct reference to the qhalur gates. They might also have problems with some of the similarities to the Stargate franchise.

Solomon Kane is Robert E. Howards Puritan vampire hunter - yes, you read that right Then there were also Cormac MacArt and Bran MacMorn - who doesn’t seem to be in print anymore. These are all Conan in later ages.

Actually I’d settle for a good Cthulhu movie. Many years ago in the early 80s Ray Harryhausen made a Cthulhu monster but the movie was never made.

Speaking of Vampyr’s Brian Lumley’s (also a member of the Lovecraft family) series is ripe for production.

Was Lumley in the Lovecraft Circle, though, or did he only write a few Cthulhu Mythos stories? I don’t think he’s old enough.

One member of the Circle already got some good movies made: Robert Bloch, who wrote Psycho. The protagonist of HPL’s “The Lurker in Darkness” is named Robert Blake, after him.

I’d like a good Cthulhu movie myself, if it sticks to the book (Dagon, actually “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, sure didn’t–Imboca, because we randomly moved Innsmouth to Spain?!). Or “Horror at Red Hook” could be good too, although the Hecate litany in it was used by the execrable made-for-TV movie “The Touch of Satan,” in the 70s. Everybody that saw that on MST3K would find it hard to take the film seriously (I couldn’t help laughing when I read the story the first time).

Maybe they can use Mike Mignola’s version from Hellboy.

You should love Vidocq then – it pretty well nails an alternate-past urban France, grit, grime, steam, and all. Actually it’s probably about as close to Lankhmar as has been done yet.

The Difference Engine… well, it was…competently written, but that’s about all I can say in its favor. Not Gibson’s finest moment.

Have to ask, though – what’s your problem with Moorcock? Elric may be trash but it’s fun trash, Corum is pretty solid, and von Bek can be genuinely wonderful.

Goodness, HBO has bought rights for it! Too bad we don’t get HBO in our household! The next book comes out soon- maybe… hopefully. I=

I mainly know Moorcock through a former friend who stole from me…and later became a (male) drug whore.

Just…none too happy a bunch of associations.

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