Movie review: Conan the Barbarian
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy
Opens locally Friday, August 19th, 2011
Starring: Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Rachel Nichols, Rose McGowan, Ron Perlman
Directed by Marcus Nispel (the remakes of Friday the 13th & The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
This weekend, 2 classic movies from the 80s find their way to the big screen by way of the re-make (Conan, along with “Fright Night.”) Has there ever been a quality re-make? I can’t think of a good one. In fact, I can’t really think of any at all especially at this moment, when my mind is clogged with images of this recent version of “Conan the Barbarian.”
It’s loud, messy, awful, and somehow finds a way to dumb down the original. For that, it should be applauded as an achievement. But in every other way, “Conan the Barbarian” represents everything I hate in movies.
As the story goes, Conan (Jason Momoa, of HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) is born to a barbarian tribe, and his father (Ron Perlman) raises him up and teaches him the ways of a warrior. When his village is attacked and destroyed by the evil Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), Conan grows up with revenge on his mind. He needs to stop Zym from world domination, yadda, yadda, yadda.
From the opening scene, the unintentional cheese is poured over our heads like hot lava, and the horrendous 3D assists in melting our eyes to the point where I had to look away several times. Not because of the gratuitous violence (there is plenty), but due to the laughable cheese-tastic drama oozing from the screen. Not looking didn’t hurt too much…the over-the-top awful movie score lets you know exactly when to be concerned, when to be afraid, and when we are supposed to care. One of the worst and noticeable scores in recent movie memory.
The plot, pacing, dialogue, and mostly the action sequences are also just a pure mess. There seems to be no real choreography of action, or angles…it is pure mindless, as if they tied the camera to a rope and just flung it around wildly to capture each shot. The bad 3D (did I mention that yet?) just furthers the confusion, and for a movie that is 90% action, it grows tedious very quickly. I’m even sad to report that I didn’t like the look of the film…the costumes, art direction, and so on. By the end, the bad guy looks like a reject straight out of “Big Trouble, Little China,” and I kept wondering how Conan could go from a sex scene to suddenly running out with his boots strapped all the ways up the knees seconds later. Is that me being too picky, to ask for Conan to stop and tie his shoes?
Jason Momoa as Conan is no Arnold Schwarzenegger, in stature or as an action hero. Not that this role requires much acting. But he just didn’t have charisma enough to make us care about him, nor the funny accent to make us laugh.
I know, I know, it’s a barbarian movie…what did I expect? Well actually, much more than this. I’m all for action-packed popcorn flicks, but this is the worst brand of so-called entertainment…an uneven and sloppy money-grab aimed at fans of the original.
At one point in the film, the female (Rachel Nichols) ponders: “What is this all about? Are we destined for ruin and despair?” To which Conan replies: “I don’t know. I survive. I kill. I’m content.” That about sums it up.
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