JASON MOMOA STEPHAN LANG RACHEL NICHOLS ROSE MCGOWAN RON PERLMARN
Conan the Barbarian
At least every couple of years we see a barbarian type of film with extreme violence, damsels in distress and a beefed up actor running around to save the world. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the German director of Pathfinder, Marcus Nispel, would also direct Conan the Barbarian. Clearly, this isn’t your Kevin Sorbo version; instead, this R rated adventure stars former Hawaiian Baywatch actor Jason Momoa. Morgan Freeman opens the film with a standard prologue narration while the visuals and setting look strangely similar to The Fellowship of the Ring.
Baby Conan, son of Corin (Perlman), a great Cimmerian warrior, was cut out of his dying mother’s womb so she may see him before she died on the battle field. Raised by his father, Conan grew to be a strong fighter, even as a child. Upon watching his father die a brutal death, Conan (Momoa) vowed to avenge his father by seeking the host of men that took his life. For years he traveled Hyboria in search of any clues that would fulfill his quest. Word spread that the man he seeks has achieved god-like status and no mortal can harm him. When a monk temple is raided to capture a woman (Nichols) of ancient pure blood, Conan finds the woman and waits for the enemy to retrieve her.
By the 20 minute mark of the film, we already have endured two major battle sequences which suggest Conan the Barbarian will be nothing more than fight scenes strung together in search of a plot. Perlman (Hellboy, Season of the Witch) is a big fan of obnoxious movies with lots of fighting. However, he appears in only the first part of this film. Momoa has the body and look for the title character, but his acting experience, made up of nothing more than failed television series and cheesy made for TV movies, leaves much to be desired. The remaining roles are similar, including former Scream star Rose McGowan.
The era in which the film is set appears to be a section of history where neither man nor woman wore shirts. This is likely another stunt just to get both sexes to buy a ticket to a by-the-books action adventure film with a $70 million budget. Bloodthirsty fans will certainly get what they pay for, as blood flows from bodies in this picture much like a Tarantino film. In one scene a decapitated head blinks eyes at the screen, and in another Conan sticks his finger inside a man’s missing nose hole. By the end of the film, the shirtless, barbaric, blood splattering deaths have all worn off, McGowan’s metal fingers are annoying and we want everyone to die so we can return to the fresh air.
Final Thought – Delivers nothing impressive, exciting or fundamentally original.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Michael Woody
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
Those who like violence nonstop and macho heroics will very likely take to this movie. The battle scenes are protracted, and the hero Conan (Jason Momoa) is not always on top of the situation, so tension runs high. Conan himself is born in the heat of a battle in which his mother is wounded, so his father Cirin (Ron Perlman), at her request, cuts him out of his mother’s belly so she can see him and name him before she dies. That sets him up to be a fierce warrior who persists in the face of all odds and is vengeful to the death. As a young boy (skillfully played by Leo Howard), his father trains him in the art of making and wielding a sword, and his eyes burn as he shows promise in felling men much larger than he and fulfilling his destiny.
Conan’s father is killed by the evil Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), whose wife/witch was killed earlier in a battle. Zym has the delusion that if his sorcerer daughter can identify the one woman with blood that is “pure” and it could be poured into a sacred vessel in his possession, his wife would be restored with all her powers, and the two would reign as gods. Conan is forced to watch his father die—although he tries desperately to save him—and thereafter, spends years almost alone, trying to track down Zym and wreak his revenge upon him. Romantic interest is provided by a female monk who is supposed to have the pure blood inside her. When Zym kidnaps her, Conan, whose path has previously crossed hers, is called upon to save her.
The film moves at a dizzying pace with battle after battle waged at scenic locales, which quickly become destroyed. After a while, it’s hard to keep one straight from another. The director Marcus Nispel, whose previous work includes Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is experienced in this genre, but brings little to this project that shows professional development. Overall the acting is adequate, although not inspired, and I think that given the kinds of battles he wages, Conan would have been better if he had come across as more barbaric. He was perfectly cast in Game of Thrones as Drogo and acted the part of someone who lived in a crude setting. Here, he comes across as a little too refined. (Barking at a cultured woman with terse instructions to her and stuffing cloth down her mouth to stop her talking—which for some reason the women in the audience found funny—is not what I’m talking about.)