Published on August 25th, 2011 | by David0
Conan The Barbarian: 2011 And Still Slaying To Contentment
After an overdone Paper-Mario-History-Channel-Lord-of-The-Rings mashup intro narrated by Morgan Freeman, Conan the Barbarian takes us to the mythical Hyborian Age, where a young Anakin lookalike unleashes gory fury on a band of slightly orcish raiders near his village. Shortly thereafter a horde of black riders led by chief Bad Guy Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) storms through his village, killing everyone.
Fast forward 20 years or so, and young Anakin has turned into the chiseled, beefy Jason Momoa, hot off “Game of Thrones.” The apparent love child of Brad Pitt and The Rock, the Hawaiian Momoa fills out his role perfectly, as a savage, beautiful warrior hell-bent on avenging his people. He cavorts, kills some baddies, frees some slaves, kills some more baddies, and eventually meets Tamara (Rachel Nichols), a “pureblood” maiden critical to Zym’s quest for global domination.
Nichols delivers her cheesy lines as well as can be expected, and brings the classiest performance in the movie. There’s a little bit of a Han Solo/Leia dynamic here- though instead of barbed sarcasm to settle a disagreement, Conan deals with his headstrong companion by tying up and gagging her. When our heroine isn’t a squirming damsel in distress, she’s stabbing baddies with suspiciously well-honed knife skills for a peaceful maiden. Believable? Maybe not, but like the 3D effects in Conan, the plot holes aren’t worth staring at too closely. Once they work out their differences, Conan and Tamara head off to confront Zym (and his evil, razor-nailed daughter), abort his evil quest, and save the land.
Speaking of 3D, how long is it going to take the movie industry to realize that post-production 3D will never work? Rather than spring for a full 3D production or even do a few key scenes in 3D, Conan is shot entirely 2D and than three-dimensionalized by computer afterwards. The effect is an eye-straining, cardboard cutout crapfest. Save your money and watch in 2D.
If you have an aversion to gore, avoid this movie. Rather than clean entry wounds or cartoonish limb-severing, we get smashed-in skulls, bloody gashes, and quite a few impalings- the guy’s a barbarian after all. The foley effects are top-notch, and I found the action more compelling than other head-bashing fare like 300, Troy, and Spartacus. Trading out slow-motion pirouettes and legions of CG warriors for good old bone-crunching, mano-a-mano combat, Conan’s revenge quest is viscerally satisfying.
People bash cartoonish epics like Conan for the cheesy acting, but this isn’t exactly Oscar material, and the ripped, moody hero, virginal girl, power-hungry villain, and sexy, reptilian witch lady fill out their roles wonderfully. The plot is predictable action fare, but again, we’re watching this to see what crazy action sequence is coming next, not to uncover a deep meaning in the writing.
In the words of Conan: “I live, I love, I slay. I am content”– leave your girlfriend at home, remember that this is a remake of a Schwarzenegger movie, and have a great time with this bloody, campy slashfest. Conan the Barbarian in 2D and 3D is now playing in theaters.