Saturday, 26 March 2011

Book Review: Vampire Warlords by Andy Remic

vampire-warlords

Vampire Warlords is the third book in Andy Remic’s Clockwork Vampire trilogy. Now generally I am annoyed when authors write a single story and pass it off as three separate books (even in a trilogy), however I have enjoyed this series so much, in this case, I can even forgive that. Remic wrote the Clockwork Vampire trilogy partly in tribute to the late David Gemmell, and it is fair to say that he has done a great job of catching the feel of Gemmell’s dark and gritty style. Remic certainly has a style of his own ( some may find his language a little strong for a fantasy series) and this comes through well, working exceedingly well with this, his first fantasy series.

Vampire Warlords picks up where Soul Stealers left off, the Vampire Warlords have been released from their eternal prison and they are spreading their control across the lands, either feeding on everyone they can find or turning them into vampires. It seems like all of he factions, in their own way decide that they must try to stop the Warlords. The humans are led by Kell, a mature axeman who has a seriously dark history and temper (very reminiscent of Gemmell’s Druss). He tends to fight his way through any situation, even when diplomacy might be a safer option.  As well as Kell and his compatriots there are various groups with their own agendas. The most mysterious being a race of ancient creatures that resemble children combined with insects.  They certainly play a part in the fight to take down the vampire warlords, but to be honest they are not well utilised and are left mysterious to the end (clearly they will appear in future books, but they could have been left out of this one without seriously effecting the plot).

KellsLegend-front-72dpiSoulStealers

So, maybe the plot is not perfect, it has a few holes and some elements are only there to set up future books, however the vitality of the story are Remic’s writing style certainly make for a worthy read. I would highly recommend the Clockwork Vampire Chronicles. Kell’s Legend is an excellent introduction, Soul Stealers fleshes out the story very well and now Vampire Warlords gives us a suitably powerful conclusion.

I will waiting for Remic’s next fantasy novel with baited breath…

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Comparing the Casts from Conan The Barbarian 1982 and 2011

OK, this will in no way give any indication of the quality of the new Conan The Barbarian, as compared to the 1982 film. It is just a bit of fun and a chance to enjoy the eye candy!

So lets start things off:-

Conan

Arnold Schwarzenegger (CtB:1982)

ConanArnie0loarnold'Conan the Barbarian'conand07263dl2

To the general public Arnie “is” Conan, however he is far from Howard’s vision. Admitted he wasn’t bad in CtB. Even though he was still probably over built, he didn’t look as though he had just come from a 3 hour workout before every scene (as opposed to “ The Destroyer” where he was so ripped he looked ridiculous). His costumes in CtB were more conservative too, i.e. for most of the film he wore far more than just a loincloth, which to my mind certainly helped the believability…

Jason Momoa (CtB:2011)

jason-momoa-conan-the-barbarianConanEmpireApril2011_Conan-knife-500x253conan-jason-momoas-angry-16-7-10-kc

As far as fitting in with Howard’s vision, things are possibly a little closer to the original, Momoa certainlly seems to have dark and broody look in the publicity stills. I haven’t seen a loincloth yet either which is a positive thing as far as I can see.

The only thing that has really stirred things up in REH fandom so far on the Momoa front is his lack of blue eyes. I don’t really have strong views when it come to movie adaptions of books, I expect large diversions from the original piece, so on one level the lack of blue eyes doesn't really bother me. However, I do think that it could have, so easily, been rectified with a pair of blue contact lenses, or even digitally in post production, that it is a shame they didn’t do it.

The “Big Bad Guy”

James Earl Jones (CtB:1982)

james earl jones

What can be said about Jones in CtB, other than he had the best lines in the movie (fairly hammy lines admitted – this is a sword and sorcery movie what do you expect). He dominated every scene he was in and he certainly raised the whole drama of the movie.

Stephen Lang (CtB:2011)

ConanEmpireApril2011_Khalar-Zym-and-Jailer5

Not much to say on this yet as we only really have one photo of Lang in costume. Looks OK! Lang has done some good work in the past, most recently of course with Avatar. He is not know for period pieces or costume dramas, so it is difficult to judge how he will do in the new film.

The “Love Interest”

Sandahl Bergman (CtB:1982)

valeria black framesandahl bergman 2sandahl bergman 3sandahl bergmanvaleria-thiefconanA803valeria3

Sandahl Bergman’s Valeria in the 1982 film was another inspired choice, she clearly had charisma and a good rapport with Arnold. The choice of a dancer was a good one as she moved very well in the fight scenes, and pulled off the part of a “queen of thieves” very well.

Rachel Nicholls

rachel20nichols20100Rachael Nicholsrachel-nichols

I have not been particularly aware of Rachel Nicholls in anything. She was apparently in the recent Star Trek movie, and also GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra, both of which I have seen. Neither registered on my radar, although I am assuming her part in GI Joe must have included a fair bit of action, so she should be able to cope with the fight scenes.

The Evil Sorceress

This is a tricky comparison as the character in the 1982 movie was basically a minor supporting role but the 2011 character appears to be one of the main antagonists.

Cassandra Gava

cassandra gavawitch-wolfwolfwitch

Cassandra Gava’s Wolf Witch, from the 1982 movie, is one of the more memorable minor characters that usually raises a smile with audiences. Certainly a very sexy character with a dark side that Arnold’s Conan experiences at first hand.

Rose McGowan

rose-mcgowanrose-mcgowan-91

I have no idea how important McGowan’s role will be in the new movie, but it seems it may be one of the lead roles. There is no doubt that McGowan has a screen presence, but there is nothing yet that can be said about her role in the new Conan movie as we don’t even have any photos to work with!

The only really interesting point to add is, of course, that McGowan’s next movie will be Red Sonja, the movie based on the Marvel comics character that was also inspired by an REH character.

Supporting Cast

Not comparing like for like, just a feel for some of the high points from each cast.

Max Von Sydow (CtB:1982)

max von sydow

Not  lot to say here, a superb actor who has appeared in more of my favourite films than I can remember, off the top of my head The Ultimate Warrior, The Quiller Memorandum, Dune and of course the recent REH movie Solomon Kane, to name but four. I was actually surprised he didn’t get a part in the new Conan movie, as he seems to turn up in just about everything!

Ron Perlman (CtB:2011)

RonPerlman

Another genre stalwart. Everything from Hellboy, Alien:Resurrection, Highlander (the TV show) to Outlander. HE currently has two sword and sorcery movies heading for release, Conan and also Scorpion King: Rise of the Dead (which I hadn’t heard about until I was reseaching this article). Playing Conan’s father suggests that it will be a small role in the Conan movie, but any movie with Perlman in is improved by his presence!

Mako (CtB:1982)

mako

Not the most canonical aspect of the 1982 movie, having Conan team up with a wizard (Howard’s Conan always loathed magic), however Mako’s performance was a pleasure to watch, and I certainly enjoyed his part in the film.

That about wraps up my comparison of the actors in the two versions of Conan The Barbarian. I will come back to this subject as more of the new film becomes evident. Clearly there are going to be more areas that are open to comparison. These two photos suggest there will be a comparable “drinking scene” for a start:-

03 - The Guard Watches ValeriaConan_Katarzyna-Wolejnio-02

As for other aspects of the two movies. It will be difficult for the new movie to in anyway match the majestic soundtrack that Basil Poledouris created for the 1982 movie, surely one of the most over looked soundtracks of all time.

Also the it will be difficult for the new film to match the gorgeous cinematography and the overall design of the first movie. Both of which stood out for their pure class beauty.

Please let me know what you think, and also point out any other areas of comparison.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Conan Teaser Trailer

As you may have guessed I will be following the developments in the build up to the new Conan movie quite closely.

Here is the first teaser trailer:-




Looks reasonable, there are definite reminders of the 1982 movie, but it also looks to be following it's own path...

Thursday, 3 March 2011

It’s about time I mentioned the forthcoming Conan movie!

I have been a fan of Robert E Howard’s writings since the mid 1970s, and so I am always intrigued when some new REH related items come along.

Also, somewhat controversially in REH fandom, I really enjoyed the original Conan movie (Conan The Barbarian, I baulk at the thought of the second movie, Conan The Destroyer, which was basically horrible) and Solomon Kane. So I have been following the developments of the new Conan movie with some interest.

Empire coverEmpire Conan

Just recently the publicity campaign seems to have ramped up a notch, there is an article in the new issue of Empire magazine, and also just released is a Motion Poster, which really catches a Frazetta-esque kind of atmosphere. The Motion Poster takes a few seconds to start, so be patient…

 

Things are really looking interesting for this movie, I doubt it will live up to expectations, but one never knows….

 

Thanks to The Ultimate Conan Fan Blog and  Conan The  Movie Blog, for keeping us all up to date and digging up the wonderful photos…

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