Conan the Barbarian

Posted: August 28, 2011 by TME (thats my e) in Movies, Reviews

Conan The Barbarian

By David Burrola

Genre: Action/Fantasy

Release: August 19, 2011

Director: Marcus Nispel

Cast: Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Rachel Nichols, Rose McGowan, Ron Perlman

Rating: Matinee if you’re on a budget, but full priced if you’re a real fan.

In a long forgotten and brutal age, a young boy’s village is slaughtered by an army searching for  an item that will give its wearer ultimate power. As sole survivor, Conan searches for the leader of this group for revenge and stops at nothing to attain it.

 There is  probably a lot of people who had higher expectations of this film and criticism just because Arnold isn’t Conan anymore.   Arnold’s in his 60’s now so anyone who wants him back, is just nuts. Still, I did have more expectations for this as I was hoping it’d go more off of the books.

 The movie does bring some of those elements from the book with much of  the Dark Horse comics’  influence.  However,  it still falls short in the story aspect most fans of the Conan series would hope for.

 The opening is narrated by Morgan Freeman and begins almost exactly as the original 80’s film that was narrated by Mako. While I think its pretty cool that Morgan Freeman did this opening, it doesn’t have the same atmosphere as Mako’s opening did. This narrative  tells us of a group of necromancers that found a way to attain godlike power. They  were enslaving all of  civilization and those who resisted had no survivors.  Only the barbarian tribes of Cimmeria were able to rise up and kill them;  each tribe taking a piece of this mask that allowed them to wield the power of the  necromancer . There was a prophecy of a man that would try to reunite the pieces and bring back the old empire. Cue: Enter Conan.

The birth of Conan is during a pretty gruesome time.  This is the Hyborian age, and it’s as brutal as it gets.  Conan’s born and named on a battle field.  We get to see his father(Ron Perlman!) going over the essence of Cimmerian warriors to some teenaged boys going through their rite of passage. Conan rushes to be there and is given a chance to join in. After some parkour/tackling in the snow the boys find some crazy orc like barbarians out to get them. While the other boys retreat, Conan continues on and is initially caught.  He breaks free and kill all the goons. It’s here where we recognize Conan’s true potential as a warrior/barbarrian displayed by the scene’s  graphic nature.  He’s being as savage as he should be for a Conan movie. He come back home and the shocked villagers view this  kid caked in blood, having passed the rite.  

This movie doesn’t waste much time with the little stuff and really goes from point to point pretty fast. It spends more time on the action, while it sacrifices some needed development on the world and the characters aside from Conan.   Tamara, a ‘monk’ from a temple that is keeping the sacred item away from the villan.  Zym, the main villan, is collecting the pieces of the mask to obtain the necromancer’s power.   He’s out to resurrect his dead wife whom was also a Necromancer and would help him attain godlike powers, but she was killed years ago because of what she was doing and because, basically she was evil. Tamara apparently has the right blood for them to do the resurrection properly. 

The plot gets  a little wonky  when the writers  glaze by this stuff so much and spend more time on the action. If more thought was given to character deveopement then it would make a better movie. From here on in we get a more typical story arc about a guy that needs to protect the damsel in distress.  This definitely is not the right flavor to add to the Conan stories. He’s not really doing this out of any sympathy for her, he’s purely out for revenge, and at one point leaves her with his pirate friend to take back to her home.

In passing the audience is informed that Conan spent time as a bandit leader, wanderer, and now pirate.  This would have been awsome to include and extend the series of movies.  Conan has had so many advantures that two movies did not fit all the stories. More fans would appreciate if the creators spent some time  building up to this revenge story and just had him on different adventures while he’s searching for the murderer of his father and village.

 While I do wish there was more time spent fleshing out the plot and characters, there is enough  graphic violence and nudity. The sets and costume design are really well done, giving you a great sense of immersion into the world of Hyboria and the action is fun but some of the staging is kind of off slightly.

Many people have raised issues with who was cast as charactters in Conan. For many who saw the first film with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan will probably be a bit annoyed that Arnold has no real involvment in this one.  Jason Momoa does a good job as the title character and he obviously really enjoyed doing it. I saw the other two actors in talks to play Conan, and after seeing Momoa cast I can’t really see many others in the role.  It seemed like the whole cast had fun making Conan, and how can you not when its the character that defined the Sword&Sorcery genre. He’s legendary and one of the prevailing characters of an era when heroes where the baddest of the bad, took no shit and weren’t all goody-goody trying to save the earth. They’re all about their own ends and just get into crazy adventures all the time.

As most of the bigger movies are gone from theaters now, and there’s not as much new I’d suggest Conan as a good straight up violent fun if you’re not into watching something too thought provoking. Matinee if you’re on a budget, but full priced if you’re a real fan.

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