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Filmism.net Dispatch July 31, 2011

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What's the definitive version of any entertainment property, world or character? Is it the first, the most popular, the best? Because of the amount of stuff directors from Alfonso Cuaron to David Yates left out of the Harry Potter films, does that make the books better for being more expansive or the films better for being more economical? What about Twilight, The World According to Garp, To Kill a Mockingbird or other films based on famous, great or otherwise impactful literature?

The question was inadvertently posed to me by science and film geek Tim Dean at Ockham's Beard when I tweeted that the scene from the new Conan looked good (you can view it here). Tim responded that the presence of Robert E Howard (author of the Conan stories) was conspicuously absent. And I have every reason to believe he's right, never having read any of Howard's fiction.

To me the definitive version is John Milius' Conan the Barbarian starring a young California Governor. Because comic books weren't so cool and sexy in 1982, studios didn't shout it from the rooftops when a movie was based on a comic like they do now, so I'd bet the movie is the definitive version for most other people too.

It's further proof of the point I made last time, of how films have lives like we do, morphing and changing with the times according to our tastes and our relationships to them.

I was a bit late reviewing Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but my opinion generated a startling realisation. You wouldn't normally equate Michael Bay with Jean-Luc Godard or Stanley Kubrick, but Bay's machine mash proves he's an auteur in his own right.

And so – predictably in hindsight – studio execs have been dusting off any script they can find that deals with robots fighting each other. Real Steel is on the way, and just announced: a live action Voltron film.

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