I really can’t figure out who likes Conan the Barbarian.  Not just the latest reboot/reimagining/remake, but also the character in general.  What is the appeal? Fantasy fiction, whether it’s Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, takes us into new worlds that are somewhat recognizable and also completely alien.  The baseline interest in the genre is, really, world building (and a certain fetishization of medieval garb, I suppose).  Set up a fantastical, intriguing place and then create characters to play around in it.  I’ll bet this is a reason for the success of World of Warcraft or the Elder Scrolls series of games.  Still, there are characters in the fiction in which to invest, and a whole set of rules that are ever changing to inhibit their desires.  Conan the Barbarian’s sole source of interest is his muscular physique and the way in which that allows him to swing a sword quite well.  There are notions of heroics and honor, but this isn’t a well-established universe – at least as far as the film adaptations are concerned – and there doesn’t seem to be a central struggle.  In the new film, he wants revenge on a guy who also happens to want to take over the world.  Conan, then, must be devoid of personality or conflict or even flaws.  He is a Hero in the most banal sense – the always-good guy who can’t be beat.  Why is this interesting for anyone? Read the rest of this entry »

Oh District 9, what hath ye wrought?  To nobody’s surprise, that relatively small-budgeted sci-fi romp’s success spurred on the Hollywood braintrust into making not one but two similarly themed invasion yarns.  The first of these was Skyline, directed by visual effects team The Brothers Strause (ugh), eager to cheaply follow up their not-smash success Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.  Some legal troubles came about because The Brothers Strause (ugh) were also doing visual effects work on Battle: Los Angeles, or something along those lines.  This is utterly ridiculous, of course, because there are scores of directors and writers that could sue both parties for shameless intellectual property theft.  Read the rest of this entry »