Conan the Barbarian
Running Time: 113 minutes
Starring: Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Rachel Nichols, Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan
Directed By: Marcus Nispel
Rating: 3.5 out of 10
A man travels the world with his sword looking for revenge on the man who destroyed his village and his life.
We are in the golden age of Hollywood remakes at the moment but this film is anything but golden. Did Conan the Barbarian need to be remade or retold? Yes I think it did. Did it need to be retold like this? No and it does not do the original film justice. This is the story of Conan. He travels the world looking for the man who destroyed his home village and getting revenge for all the love ones he lost.
Getting Morgan Freeman to narrate this film is like a magic trick gone wrong. His awesome voice is supposed to give this movie the illusion of it being good. The visuals do not quite live up to what his voice is saying though. In an age where the fantasy genre has never been better this film gets left in the dust. Why would people watch this film when things like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones is so readily available? The answer is they don’t judging by its poor box office haul. The film starts off and one is instantly reminded of the television shows Hercules or Xena but with blood. I was waiting for Gabrielle or Eolis to show up and start fighting (try and beat that nerdy reference). This movie looks like a movie. What I mean by that is the costumes and settings all look like stage props. It is hard to get into a film where rocks look like sprayed grey Styrofoam and buildings look like they are made from Paper Mache. As the film starts we get to see Conan as a child. This whole sequence is both unnecessary and boring. It is trying to show us that even as a young kid Conan is a warrior but most viewers will not care. Even the revenge scenario that stems from his village being destroyed is blah. Fast forward many years later and Conan is leaving a crimson stain through the land. He is looking to enact his revenge on the man who destroyed his village but he is always just out of reach. The action scenes are okay and the blood is a nice surprise as usually these films are PG-13. Conan kills at will and the film never deviates from this angle. He travels from city to city, slicing, stabbing, and beating his enemies into submission all to a wretched soundtrack.
Conan is played by Jason Momoa and he had some rather large shoes to fill reprising an Arnold Schwarzenegger role. He did an okay job with the portrayal. He has the look, body type, and action capability down but his dialogue and voice always seemed decidedly weak. It is too angry a performance to be enjoyed and while I know that was what he was told to do it was a little off. The rest of the cast turns in a very made for TV movie type performance. They deliver the lines and the movie progresses but there are no positive performances. Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan, Rachel Nichols are all in this movie if you are fans of theirs.
The film rolls along and just like the acting the quality of the film is also very made for TV. The camera work is terrible only driving this film lower and lower on the rating scale. To top it all off random creatures show up when you least expect it. A fake looking giant octopus or squid appears and I was wondering if they imported it straight from the movie Goonies the extended edition (another try and beat that nerd reference). There are a couple of positives though. A scene where Conan battles men made entirely of sand is actually a decent watch but there are not nearly enough of these types of fights to make the film work. The film is also very easy to watch as you know basically what you are going to get. As the film finally gets to the predictable end battle it is relatively tame in comparison to the rest of the film. It is as if they ran out of money to film a decent ending and it shows. Instead of ending on a high note the film just fizzles and dies. Conan might be a warrior but he is terrible to watch and you really don’t care if he gets his revenge. On a side note everything in this world seems to be made from the cheapest material possible. People get slammed through buildings, ship walls, floors, and other items as if they were made of tissue paper, it was quite comical.
Director Marcus Nispel is not known for quality films (Friday the 13th, Pathfinder) so it was not surprising this film was sub par. You know what you are going to get with him and that is cheesy action with very little story. Is there a market for that? Absolutely, so for me to say he did a bad job would be wrong. He needs to work on camera work and background sets though to give his films a more mainstream vibe. He made the film R rated which is to be commended in a world replete with PG-13 crap. The blood was in no short supply and that is a good thing. If the script was better this film could have worked. Overall he did an okay job for his target audience.
I cannot recommend this film as it was a very cheesy remake. I will not be surprised if Salmoneus will be selling this DVD for 2 dollars out of a bin somewhere (Last nerdy reference for a while I promise)
T Factor + If you like gratuitous violence then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you need a strong storyline for your movies this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Pathfinder, Willow.