Trailer Time: Conan The Barbarian (2011)

Hi all…

Conan the Cimmerian from Robert E. Howard’s pulp fiction classics of the 1930s has seen his share of reinvention over the years. Whether in new stories, comic books, television, or movies, Conan has always been a force to be reckoned with.

After Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of Conan in Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Conan the Destroyer (1984), it was tough for me to imagine anybody else in the role. Even bodybuilder Ralf Möller in TV’s Conan: The Adventurer paled in comparison in the late ’90s.

Now Jason Momoa (TV’s Stargate: Atlantis) comes to the role in the new big screen feature reinventing the classic. The film also brings in big names like Stephen Lang (Avatar), Ron Perlman (Hellboy), and Rose McGowan (Grindhouse). Will this incarnation of Conan stand up to the scrutiny it’s bound to get?

I’ve seen numerous stills of Momoa in the role, and was interested to see how he’d do. Now that I’ve heard him talk in this teaser, I have a sinking feeling about the film. Will I still go see it in August? Heck yes. But I’ll have lowered my expectations significantly.

Plus, what’s with all the smoke. It’s a cool way to give half-glimpses of stuff, but gets old by the time the teaser (about a minute long) is even half over… I suspect we’ll see more trailers during the summer movie season, but who knows?

Synopsis:

“I live. I love. I slay…I am content.” – Conan The Barbarian

The most legendary Barbarian of all time is back this Summer. Having thrived and evolved for eight consecutive decades in the public imagination- in prose and graphics, on the big screen and small, in games and properties of all kinds- Conan’s exploits in the Hyborian Age now come alive like never before in a colossal 3D action-adventure film.

A quest that begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon turns into an epic battle against hulking rivals, horrific monsters, and impossible odds, as Conan realizes he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil.

Deftly adapted from the original works of Robert E. Howard and faithful to the mythology and psychology of his iconic character, CONAN THE BARBARIAN stars Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Ron Perlman and Rose McGowan, and is directed by Marcus Nispel.

Q: What do you think? Will you see it? Are you excited?

For more news about the film, be sure to check it out on its Facebook page here. Conan the Barbarian releases in theaters everywhere August 19th, 2011!

–Fitz

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Blu-ray Review: Predators

Hi there…

Back in 1987, Arnold Schwarzenegger could do no wrong. Predator and The Running Man both came out that year, when Arnold was at the top of his game. And in both films, he started as the prey and ended as the hunter.

Predator told the story of a team of commandos sent into the jungles of Central America to rescue a man supposedly shot down by a rebel guerilla group in the area. Of course, things are never quite as simple as they appear…

Dutch (Schwarzenegger) and his team find the downed helicopter, but don’t quite know what to think when they find bodies flayed and hung upside down. Would the guerillas do such a horrific thing? And even after the team takes out the rebel camp, they find themselves hunted by an unseen enemy who eliminates them one at a time. It would be revealed to be an alien creature hunting them using stealth and advanced technology. When only Dutch remains, he eventually finds a way to stop this worthy foe from another world…

Predator spawned a sequel in 1990 called Predator 2, which would pit Los Angeles policeman Danny Glover against another of the aliens in an urban environment. And we’ve seen the Predator aliens in battle with the horrific creatures from Ridley Scott’s Alien twice – in 2004’s AVP: Alien vs. Predator and 2007’s AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem.

Though Predator made nearly $100 million worldwide on a $15 million production budget, Predator 2 only made $57 million worldwide… More recent films including Predators have done fairly well at the box office — AVP made more than $170 million worldwide, AVPR made more than $125 million worldwide… So I think it’s safe to say that Aliens and Predators make money at the box office.

That brings us to 2010 and a new generation of stories in the Predator universe with Predators. Director Nimrod Antal and producer Robert Rodriguez decided to base a sequel not on Predator 2 or the AVP movies, but more on the original material. With a reported production budget of $40 million, the film has earned more than $125 million worldwide. (Film income and production budget numbers from BoxOfficeMojo.com.)

Rodriguez and Antal took a slightly different approach to the story, moving it completely off the Earth and sending it to the stars. On an alien world used as a huge game preserve, the Predator aliens drop killers from other worlds into the preserve – observing and hunting them one at a time to hone their battle skills.

This time, it’s a group of killers from Earth who have to figure out where they are and what they need to do to survive. Adrien Brody (The Pianist) plays Royce, a mysterious mercenary who takes the lead dog role. Alice Braga (Repo Men, I am Legend) plays the beautiful and deadly sniper Isabelle who acts as the conscience for the group. The two of them lead a group of criminals, soldiers, and killers-for-hire through the alien jungle as they are hunted by the Predators.

The rest of the cast of characters spreads the field… Topher Grace’s (That 70s Show, Spiderman 3, Valentine’s Day) fish-out-of-water “Doc” Edwin, Walton Goggins’ (Justified, The Shield) death-row inmate Stans, Oleg Taktarov’s (National Treasure, By the Will of Genghis Khan) Russian soldier Nikolai, Danny Trejo’s (Heat, Machete) machine-gun toting Cuchillo, and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali’s (Crossing Jordan, The 4400, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) death squad fighter Mombasa from Sierra Leone. Even Laurence Fishburne (CSI, The Matrix) appears as a crazy survivor from earlier rounds of the game. But my favorite was the nearly silent Hanzo played by Louis Ozawa Changchien (Gigantic).

Though I liked the film, I never got drawn into the story quite as much as I did with the original film. The slow reveal of the real reason Edwin was chosen was fun and the scene where Hanzo challenges a Predator to a swordfight in a green field was my favorite of the film. But because the story is spread out across nine different characters, it becomes a bit watered down.

That said, the special effects, sets, and costumes were amazing. The three-dot laser targeting devices from the original film and the infrared and other views from the Predators kept the same feel as the technology in the original film. But they created three very different Predator characters, each with his own customizations to his helmet and tools. And the “dogs” in an early scene with the horns growing out of their bodies all had a high “creepy” factor that was done with a combination of actual props and computer-generated effects.

As far as the sets and locations went, the jungles were alien but still evoked memories of the Central American jungles Schwarzenegger was exploring in 1987. And the hunting camp of the Predators reminded me of the swamp where Arnie turned the tides on the original Predator with the mud and the huge trees.

I saw this film in the theater and I have to say the Blu-ray reproduction appeared crisper on my HD television at home than it did in the theater. The widescreen (2.35:1) display was simply gorgeous. And the soundtrack (in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) was equally sublime – there’s something about listening to Brody fall from a spaceship in the first seconds of the film that surrounds you quickly. And the ambient crunching as the characters tramp through the jungle paired with the voluminous gunfire and explosions all sound terrific.

In the extras department, the Blu-ray doesn’t skimp… If you like commentary, you’ll enjoy the commentary track from Rodriguez and Antal as the film progresses. The cast and crew also share their insights in the “Evolution of the Species: Predators Reborn” series of features. I really enjoyed seeing the different phases of the sets and character designs done by the production crew.

Also included is a series of motion comics called “Moments of Extraction” – each of which presents a vignette voiced by the actor about their characters. These prequels provide a bit of context as to how and why each character was chosen by the Predators to be prey.

Other features include “The Chosen”, “Making a Scene” from Fox Movie Channel, deleted and extended scenes, BD LIVE extras, and a digital copy on DVD.

Overall, if you liked Predator, you’ll enjoy parts of Predators. In addition to the film itself, which is fun, the extras show how much the cast and crew believed in the production from start to finish. At the very least it’s great to see the Predators get into the limelight and away from those acid-bleeding Aliens!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up Predators and other great movies below!

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Robert Rodrgiguez’ Predators movie looks cool!

Hey all…

Saw this today courtesy of Geeks of Doom and thought I’d share with you. There’s a sneak peak of the new Predators movie from Robert Rodriguez up at Predators-Movie.com that looks like this could actually be… fun.

Any time a series is reimagined or reborn, you have to wonder at the quality. Why is it being redone? Who will do it? Will it hold up to the original?

The original Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger is a classic. That was an era of big, bold action movies where you could cheer for the good guys or the bad guys and still come out on top.

We can only hope that Rodriguez’ vision holds up.

It looks like it stars Topher Grace, Adrien Brody, Danny Trejo, and Laurence Fishburne among others. So we’ll see what happens come July 9, 2010. 🙂

What do you think?

–Fitz

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