Tuesday, August 23, 2011


The success or failure of a film can often rely upon the decisions made prior to the cameras even arriving on set. Bad decisions in writing, casting and choice of director can doom a project early on. With that said, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, a remake of the 1982 cult-favorite, is a perfect film; it is perfect in getting absolutely everything wrong.

On a quest to recover an magic mask with the powers to raise the dead, the evil Zym (Stephen Lang), and his witch –daughter Marique (Rose McGowan) slaughters young Conan’s village, including his pop (Ron Perlman). Once grown, Conan (Jason Momoa), embarks on a quest to enact revenge on Zym, before he can summon the power of the magic mask and sacrifice a female monk (Rachel Nichols).

CONAN stumbles and bumbles right out of the gate. After a LORD OF THE RINGS-ripoff prologue, followed by a laughable Conan birth-scene, things delve into the motivations for the villain, which for undeveloped reasons, is something that we’re all supposed to be afraid of. The filmmakers, evidently worried that the film would be too simple by just being a story about a boy out for his father’s revenge, chose to beef things up with a zany and unthreatening evil plot. The mask, and the threat of raising the dead comes as off so stupid, that the audience nearly wants to root for the villain to succeed just to see what would happen. In the midst of all this, Conan is nearly left behind. His motivations for revenge, although present, get left in the dust as his scenes are rushed through faster than a stampede. Conan himself is underwritten; given little to do with no real character arc.

Development of any character is blasted through too fast, and along with that is any mythos of the world that they inhabit. The ancient world and its peoples seem to exist just to take up space on the screen; no time at all is given to explain what they believe in, how they live, or why we should care about them. Besides that, the villain’s only threat to them seems to come in his endless monologues about covering the world in “oceans of blood” over and over again.

Adding to the mess is the inadequate directing chops of Marcus Nispel; an absolute disastrous choice for a director of what should have been an epic sword-and-sorcery film. Nispel has no skill in directing action; scenes are shot up too close and edited too quickly. The cuts come too fast to keep up with anything, and the fighting is over before we know what’s happened. Another odd and ultimately bad choice is the usage of Morgan Freeman to offer some narration. Although everyone loves ol’ Morgan’s pipes, here he feels out of place; reciting dialogue that is too paper-thin and reeking of garbage for his talent. On top of that, the narration is vastly under-used. Overall the film feels very small, and ultimately insignificant.

Momoa looks like he could be a decent Conan; he has muscles everywhere, swings a mean sword and has a face only a jackhammer would love. His lines come in grunts of four words at a time, which seems to be his limit. Acting across the board is cheesy, although Rose McGowan’s witch seems to stand out.

Despite the amount of (CGI) blood and (real) tits, CONAN feels like a Saturday morning cartoon thanks to the absurdity of it all. It’s an automatic B-movie; never to be taken seriously by anyone older than 13 or with a pea-sized brain.


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