Sunday, August 21, 2011

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

He'll shoulder press you AND the army you came with

As much as I enjoy the 1982 film, I'm going to review this as its own separate experience. The story element for the "Conan the Barbarian" 2011 felt pretty straightforward, as potential for more weighty subject matter was there but wasn't always emphasized, rather than jumping into one showy scene after the next. The quick pacing doesn't always give breathing room to think instead of a share of it just passing through. Since it doesn't always take advantage of one place for long, it often does itself a disservice for replay value when there aren't many layers to peel back.

A boy born in battle is destined to be a warrior, he grows up at first somewhat small and unappreciated, has another family member taken away from him and then seeks revenge at a much later time in his life when the villain so happens to be close to his master plan. It felt like too many flashy scenes surrounded by little substance of narrative to fully clench its epic proportions. It did give off certain sensations the first time around, I'll give it that, though there wasn't much to ponder on below the surface about the characters or the journey after it ended.

Jason Momoa held a presence of his own with a bulky and commanding physique, even if not ridiculously cut to the point of striation. He has a distinctive look on screen and a booming, almost professional wrestler voice. He appeared tough with some added scars and a deadpan stare, but ultimately well balanced when he was naturally wielding a sword like he owned it. Now, that's just his presence, because as for his aura there's not much else in the way of creating mystery about him, a relating ideology beyond the sword or fully capturing someone who's torn up with emotions about his lost relatives and village. He pretty much just moves from one place to the other with a loose strategy plan and it doesn't make this as gripping as the filmmakers intended with the fast flow.

The movie is very bombastic. There are various macho guy vs macho guy action scenes that include a share of candid blood shed and cruel wounds to show for it without pulling away. A particular creature scene with sand spirits was an inventive addition as they can appear from all around. There's a tad of humor, T and A nudity, a short lived love connection which leads to rescuing the damsel in distress, and then various sets of the real and CGI type that give presence of being splendid to dismal. Some of the dialogue and character setups give a sense of grand scope, though others can go over the mark to the point of hokiness. Especially some of the lines from both the villains Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) and his odd, finger-bladed daughter Marique (Rose McGowan). I've liked both performers in other films, and they look their part here, just some of the lines delivered aren't always shown in the best light.

I've seen a share of 3D films by now and this one was somewhat distracting out of the bunch. The tight action sequences were jarring to the point of frequently throwing out my focus like no other 3D movie I've seen to date to the point of having to sit farther back than usual. For the regular, every-other-time cinema goer, I'd say "Conan the Barbarian" 2011 isn't worth the pricey ticket as it's not pressing to see beyond a fan of the genre or the prior source material. As for an action-fantasy movie it included a large amount of action to whiz by one's head, though for fantasy it had a fairly to the point unfolding of the story for the genre, which can make the experience more titillating than impacting.

Rating: 5/10

Director: Marcus Nispel (Pathfinder, Friday the 13th 2009)
Stars: Jason Momoa, Ron Perlman, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Rachel Nichols
Link: IMDB, comparisons to 1982 film and Robert E. Howard stories

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