Friday, 26 August 2011

Movie Review: Conan The Barbarian 3D

I went to see Conan The Barbarian 3D on Wednesday evening (the official opening night here in the UK). I actually saw the 2D version as I really don’t get the fascination with wearing a second pair of glasses over my normal ones for two hours, just to get a headache while watching a film.

There has been a lot said about the film, from Robert E. Howard fans and from other sources, so it was with some trepidation, and quite low expectations that my two pals and I ventured into the cinema.


Now, before I start I would like to state that yes I am an REH fan and I would have liked to see a blue eyed Conan, whether it be achieved by contact lenses or by digital post processing. However, I am not going to loose sleep over it and I quite understand the compromises and alterations that have to be made when translating an eighty year old series of short stories into a modern movie. Add to that the necessary influences coming from the comic incarnation of the character and also the 1982 movie (we don't mention Conan The Destroyer), which personally, I enjoy watching quite regularly.

Firstly I would like to give my overall impressions of the film.

Visually, it looked very good, capturing a gritty fantasy world, although still based in some kind of reality, and so it evoked Howard’s Hyborian Age fairly well. Clearly the style of cinematography owed a lot to films like 300, with the dark, slightly over-exposed look.

As is fashionable with action films at the moment the action kicked off right from the beginning and didn’t let up from then on. I tend to think that this style often means that characters are very much left undeveloped, and this was very much the case here. All of the other characters were left very much as two dimensional archetypes with no real investigation of their personalities or motives, beyond the obvious one, revenge, that was central to the plot. Now OK, this is a Sword and Sorcery movie that is based on a comic book character (it is based on the comic book version of Conan much more than it is based on the the Howard original), so clearly depth of character could easily be seen as unnecessary, and to some extent I can see that most of the characters don’t need much depth, after all  the typical evil sorcerer in any Fantasy or Sword and Sorcery story is fairly two dimensional anyway. However, I do feel that they could have opened up Conan’s character a little more, showing his lighter and darker sides, his wit and intelligence as well as the brutal way that he can deal with his enemies. Maybe exploring his career as a thief a little more, or at least hinting at it more than the one reference to Tower of the Elephant! In this respect I do feel that the 1982 movie possibly has the edge here as it certainly explored Conan’s character in more depth, even if he wasn’t as dark a character as I would have liked.


Jason Momoa does a good job of filling the barbarians boots. He is certainly a more fitting Conan than Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the 1982 film (back when that one was released, I remember, I was surprised that at the very least they hadn’t dyed his hair black). Given a chance to develop the character further, I think that Momoa could bring some real depth to the part, and certainly manages to bring a real Frazetta like image to the character. We will have to wait and see if there will be any chance of a further instalment. As for the other actors and actresses. They all played there parts with suitable style and enthusiasm. Stephen Lang was fine as Khalar Zym, maybe not having quite the gravitas of James Earl Jones, but still injecting the role with plenty of evil menace.


As for the actresses, unfortunately there wasn’t much of a role for Rachel Nichols, who ended up as more of a plot point than as an essential character in the film. On the other hand, Rose McGowan almost stole the show at time with her psychotic witch, Marique, and even with her bizarre hairstyle managed to pull off a very sexy, if terrifyingly warped character.


Other than that, Ron Perlman was up to his usual standard in his rather short (not unexpectedly so) appearance as Conan’s father, and Leo Howard was excellent as the the youthful Conan putting some real animal ferocity into the role.

All in all I enjoyed Conan The Barbarian, but as much as I preferred Jason Momoa in the title role, I tend to think that the 1982 film still has the edge, at least for me!

When comparing it to recent films, I would say that I preferred Conan to Clash of the Titans, but I think as far as REH related movies go I probably preferred Solomon Kane. I hope that Conan The Barbarian does well enough to lead to a sequel, as I feel that now that they have the “origins story” out of the way they could possibly draw a little more from Howard in a new film and get more depth into the whole thing. However I fear, that like Solomon Kane this movie will not lead to any proposed sequels coming along. Still you never know, after all, I hear that they are making a sequel to Clash of the Titans

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Pulp Zen! has split into two distinct blogs!

As I said in my last post, I have decided to reassess my blog and refocus it.

This has led to my splitting Pulp Zen! into to separate blogs, Iron Mammoth’s Studio and Iron Mammoth’s R&R (this blog).

Iron Mammoth’s Studio will focus exclusively on model making, figure sculpture and wargaming. Offering tutorials, tips and tricks for figure sculptors and model makers and also model making materials and tools product reviews. It will also feature postings on the developments in my wargaming hobby, such as 15mm sci-fi and 28mm retro sci-fi and where-ever my wargaming interests may wander…

IMS is where my main focus will be centred! I want to concentrate on developing a resource that model makers and figure sculptor will find useful and refer to on a regular basis.

However, I also enjoy reviewing books and movies and I find that generally those posts are the ones that attract traffic to the blog. So rather than abandon that side altogether I thought it would be better to create a separate blog, Iron Mammoth’s R&R.

Iron Mammoth’s R&R will feature everything else that has normally been found on Pulp Zen! Movie, TV and book reviews, general Sci-fi and Pulp related articles, anything else that my geek mind happens to settle on…

Over the next few days and weeks both blogs will be settling into their new roles. This may well mean some minor design changes happening, also there may be a few hiccups along the way (I am having trouble transferring the Google Friend Connect ”Following system” from Pulp Zen over to Iron Mammoth’s Studio, for a start). I wanted to move IMS to it’s own blog page rather than simply use the Pulp-Zen blog, as I want it to build into the future and have it’s own identity. This is why I have moved it to Pulp-Zen! has always been associated with Pulp, Sci-Fi and reviews so it seemed natural to leave IMR&R in that slot.

Oh and of course IMR&R will also feature your regular dose of space babes as well Winking smile

Space-Girl-pinup by

Monday, 22 August 2011

Where am I going with this blog?

That is a question that I have been asking myself over the past couple of months.

I could get the random visitor numbers up by doing a lot more movie reviews and that type of post. Feature more photos of attractive actresses (and actors) as they seem to pull in the hits as well. That would increase the basic number of people visiting my blog, but just how many of those visitors actually read the posts that are important to me, i.e the wargaming,  model making and figure sculpting articles?
Many of the random hits seem to come from Google image searches (again the attractive actresses), and from using Google Image search myself, I know that many of those visitors wont even be looking at the page that the image is on, they simple click on to the image and then head back to Google for their next image search. Taking the random visits at face value seems to be a good way to mislead myself on the popularity of my blog...

I want this blog to attract visitors who are actually interested in model making (mainly for wargaming), figure sculpting and wargaming (mainly sci-fi, 28mm pulp sci-fi, 15mm sci-fi and possibly 6mm sci-fi if I ever get around to painting any up).

So, with that in mind I am looking at doing a little redesign work on the layout, and content of the blog. I will concentrate the content on the core areas. I will occasionally drop in some less focused postings, but only if I can justify them against one of the core areas in some way. I will also include some eye candy postings from time to time as we all need a little light relief occasionally. BUT this blog will be more focused and cover the core areas in more depth om now on.

To reflect this I am going to re-brand the the blog. I will probably keep the pulp-zen blogger URL, but the main name will become something more in tune with the central themes for the blog, i.e. model making and figure sculpture with a sci-fi wargamers bias. I haven't chosen the new name yet (any suggestions greatfully received)...

This is going to be musch less of a personal ramble of a blog and much more of an instructional kind of thing.
I may even open it up to other regular contributors.

So, if you have actually stuck around to read all of this post, you will hopefully have enjoyed some of what I have done here in the past. If so, please let me know what you have liked and what you would like to see more of!

Just to lighten the mood of this rather heavy piece. Here is Jane Fonda to remind us what sci-fi should should really be about...

And here is a kit of her, just to keep things on topic...

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