I figured that it was a little odd that director Marcus Nispel’s (Friday the 13th remake) “Conan The Barbarian” was released first in Europe and the Philippines two days before it hit U.S. shores but what do I know. The film isn’t a remake of the 1982 Schwarzenegger film but rather a re-interpretation of the “Conan” mythos and is loosely based on the character created by Robert E. Howard. The film is also unrelated to the beloved comic series by Marvel comics (70’s-80’s) and the current series by Dark Horse if you are wondering. The good news is this new edition of “Conan” is rightfully rated “R” and is filled with blood and violence as fitting to a film about a barbarian who had lived during the Hyborean Age. The bad news is, while the film is action-packed, it feels more like a serving of Hollywood fantasy than an actual tale of the sword and sorcery. But hey, it is entertaining in many ways for the hot-blooded adult male viewer.
During the Hyborean Age, Acheron sorcerers have fabricated a mask from the skulls of dead kings and the blood of sacrificed daughters to their dark gods in order to control the world. Having met defeat and the parts of the mask scattered throughout the land, the barbarians led by Corin (Ron Perlman) lived an uneasy life. During a struggle with a rival tribe, Conan (Leo Howard plays the young warrior) was birthed from blood and sacrifice, and is now slowly becoming a skilled warrior. One day, Corin’s tribe is attacked by the forces of Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), a warlord who is seeking to harness the lost powers of the mask. His tribe devastated, Conan is left alone.
20 years or so later, Conan (Jason Momoa) is now a pirate; trying to battle his way and seeking the man who had ruined his life. Conan must now face the evil of Zym and his daughter (Rose McGowan) and with the aid of his friends, Artus and Ela-Shan (Nonso Anozie and Said Taghmaoui respectively) must save the last of the pure blood called Tamara (Rachel Nichols), get vengeance and save the world in the process. A Barbarian’s job is never done….
2011’s “Conan The Barbarian” is a film that is very predictable, the premise is wrapped around a theme of revenge, a quest and redemption which is the staple of fantasy movies. The film has a very straight-forward plot, and quite frankly, the script doesn’t take any risks and feels more like the 80’s films of “The Sword and the Sorcerer”, “Deathstalker” and “The Beastmaster” than an actual tale by Robert E. Howard (then again, those films took inspiration from the Nemedian Chronicles). I guess I cannot truly knock it for having these stereotypical elements, I have to admit the film was on par with “The Scorpion King” but my problems with the film is the fact that it left too many things hanging, the script was unpolished and didn’t properly capitalize on the potentials of the Robert E. Howard references of the different realms of this age. I was happy to see Kushite tribes, some Pict warriors, and the mention of several lands in the Hyborean age. I feel that the direction was rushed to keep with the film’s upbeat pace, and in doing so, devices and elements felt very convenient and lacked credibility in its narrative.
To cover up the shortcomings of its script, director Marcus Nispel overloads the screen with a lot of action, gratuitous nudity and sex, blood and violence that borders around the lines of exploitation. This is not a movie for kids, it is violent and has a lot of nudity and some sex (so parents beware!). I was pleased to see the film made this way; after all, it is rare for a mainstream movie to be this bold, let alone violent. Conan is a character who lived during an age where killing is just another chore but who maintains a sense of honor. The set designs were decent, the costumes were good and I thought some elements of the creature CGI-effects were quite creative. The tentacled creature and the sand warriors reminded me of Howard’s tales which was a welcome treat. The blood effects were nicely executed; I was pleased to see that they may have used old-fashioned red ink to make them look real. The gore was there, but it wasn’t too much to overwhelm the film.
Ron Perlman does almost steal the show as Corin. His portrayal was moody, filled with attitude and he remained true to his love for his son. His relationship to Conan was defined well as a Cimmerian kinship; where father must hone his son to become a warrior. Momoa makes for a decent Conan and his features did remind me of some of Gary Kwapisz's and Joe Jusko’s paintings. He was capable in the action sequences although he remained untested in the areas of emotional performances (I needed more "Crom" outbursts!). He struggled to create a chemistry with Rachel Nichols who exuded sexual appeal. The villains played by Stephen Lang and Rose McGowan were your usual stereotypes, and for some reason, they looked like “Mad Max” refugees. The rest of the supporting cast were underdeveloped and wished for a more credible injection into its story; much of their presence were a little too convenient for my tastes.
I guess 2011‘s “Conan The Barbarian” was a decent, entertaining watch, but I couldn’t compare it to the other earlier “so bad it’s good” versions of “Conan” with Arnold Schwarzenegger (whose original theme music just ruled). This 2011 version is a lot more polished with the way of effects and action sequences, but made no effort to expand on the title character. It made the right approach in becoming violent and bloody, I just wished that it went all the way and then, I wouldn’t have noticed the rushed plotting. Sure, it entertains for the wrong reasons and is forgettable, but it gets points for the effort in being bold…which is rare in this day and age.
Timid Recommendation, RENTAL is advisable [3 Out of 5 Stars]
* out of **** In more ways than one, Marcus Nispel's re-imagining of the famous pulp novel series (and character) "Conan the Barbarian" certainly brings the pain. A high-budget action picture limited to the sounds of grunts, battle cries, and an occasional line of ridiculous dialogue; this latest addition to the almost decidedly short list of adaptations - for this franchise - is a brutal, noisy, mind-numbing and arguably tedious exercise in how much genre formula … more
Star Rating: Watching the original 1982 version of Conan the Barbarian, I had the distinct impression it was forced into existence – a film made before the talent or the technology was available to do the story justice. Apart from the unconvincing special effects, the phony-looking sets, and the insistent, overblown, annoying score by Basil Poledouris, the casting was the cinematic equivalent of a hack job; Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sandahl Bergman, though … more
As someone who watches a lot of films, I know that there are certain flicks I’m simply prone to like more than others. B movies – good ones and bad ones – have always been a fascination of mine. Over my years of writing about films, I’ve tried to narrow down specifically to what interests me most about these ‘side’ pictures, but I’ve never been able to nail my arguments exactly on the head. I tend to think it’s that, like any good … more
I never watched the original Conan With Arnold Schwarzenegger, so when I heard of this movie I overlooked it, I wasnt intrested. Its not until I heard that Jason Momoa had the lead role did i start looking at this. Reason being Jason Momoa is known for his role as Ronon the tall, handsome, warrior type in the Stargate Atlantis TV Series. (not unlike Conan) And im sure acting in a movie is very differant than acting in a TV series. If anything I want to see this movie to … more
I have no idea what to expect from this new Conan film. I love the character, but thus far I've been unimpressed by previous attempts to adapt Robert E. Howard's famous barbarian warrior from page to screen, and this particular effort looks rather cheap and silly. We shall see...