Friday, May 11, 2012

Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

In this new interpretation of the Conan myth - directed by that guy who did the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th remakes - Conan (Jason Momoa) watches an evil warlord (Stephen Lang) kill his father (Ron Perlman) over a magical mask fragment, and swears vengeance. Twenty some years later he some how manages to grab this lady-monk (Rachel Nichols) whose blood is needed to activate the mask's power. Apparently Big Bad spent two decades trying to find this chick despite having a clairvoyant daughter because he's a fuckin idiot.

I'm not going to lie, at about the four minute mark I decided that this was one of the stupidest movies I've ever seen and had to get drunk to even continue watching it. How stupid is it? Let me count the ways...

The whole movie was borderline incomprehensible with most of the scenes being ineptly shot and edited, particularly the fight scenes. I don't know what the fuck is the problem but it seems like every movie I watch these days has shitty, convoluted and generally poorly executed fight scenes - some examples off the top of my head include Thor, Priest and Cowboys vs. Aliens - I dunno why nobody can shoot a competant fight scene anymore. I suppose it's possible that Lord of the Rings pretty much set the bar and I have yet to get over it. Either way, it incites me to rage.

Furthermore the one sex scene in the movie was maddeningly brief and vague and left me feeling sort of disappointed and unsatisfied. I don't ask for much from movies, really I don't. All I want is a coherant story, halfway decent editing, piles of blood and organs and gratuitous sex. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so.

Moving on, the art direction was less than impressive, the CG was passable I guess and there was a suitable amount of blood which is really the only positive thing I can say about the movie.

The acting was terrible although I got the impression every now and then that these were not terrible actors, just not good enough to overcome how fucking stupid the script was. There were all these cute little quips which I don't remember and evidently were not even worthy of IMDb's Memorable Quotes, but overall there was way too much talking in this movie. One of the strengths of the 1982 Conan was that there really wasn't much more than six lines of dialogue in the whole movie - that worked. The violence said it all, man, there was no need for words.

Also on that note, though Jason Momoa kind of looks like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, he lacks the charisma or whatever it is that made Arnold more than just a big pair of biceps with a sword.

He just looks so friendly
I'm not particularly familiar with the Conan stories, but I am totally a fan of that movie, it's the shit. Sure, it was completely retarded, but it was so unassuming. It wasn't trying to be awesome, that just happened. This movie tried to capture some of the elements of the old movie such as the meandering storyline and the monsters (there was a scene with a tentacle beast being fed hot chicks which was vaguely reminiscent of the giant snake scene in the older movie) but it shoved everything together haphazardly, added some weird goth chick and wasted a whole lot of time trying to be epic. A thing is epic or it isn't, there's no sense in trying. And if you are going to try don't rip off every other successfully epic movie ever. For fuck sake.

The most infuriating thing, however, about this movie was the lady monk character. There was nothing wrong with her per se, but... well, she was kind of a wuss. The only person she could even hold her own against was the other girl (Rose McGowan) and even then, Conan had to come rescue her. The evil girl wasn't too impressive either, she was slightly more badass but despite being way more powerful than her father she was just his tool. I got the impression that she was after his dink too which is gross.

See what I mean?
But really, the lady monk is just the MacGuffin - the bad guy only wants her because her blood is gonna do something magical, Conan only wants her to keep her away from said bad guy (and says three times that she's his property), there's even a scene in which she's caught in this big old wagon wheel, screaming her ass off, and Conan and the bad guy fight literally on top of her. She's an object in every sense of the word. Compare this to Sandahl Bergman's character in the '82 flick. She's a badass.

Seriously, though, she was Conan's equal, and though she gave her life to save his she continued to kick ass from beyond the grave. Fucking. Hardcore.

And for that reason, this is the first movie to genuinely offend me in a long time. To summarize, it wasn't worth the $4.51 is cost to rent, I would recommend avoiding if at all possible.


Directed by: Marcus Nispel.  Written by: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood based on the character created by Robert E. Howard.  Starring: Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Rachel Nichols, Rose McGowan, Nonso Anozie, Ron Perlman

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