Review – Conan the Barbarian 2011

We just watched Conan the Barbarian and I don’t know about you, but I am a real Conan aficionado. Conan, the pulp hero created by Robert E. Howard in the 1930s, was at the height of his popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s. During those years,this “Swords and Sorcery” genre was experiencing a boom. In addition to the dozen paperbacks detailing Conan’s exploits, there were also several new novels, and at least three comic books based on this wonderful barbaric hero and his escapades.

Anyway, this latest Conan the Barbarian is a new interpretation of the Conan mythology, and is not related to the films featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger (Arnie) . The film, shot in 2010 and released in 2011,It stars Jason Momoa in the titular role, alongside Rachel Nichols, Rose McGowan, Stephen Lang, Ron Perlman, and Bob Sapp with Marcus Nispel directing. A quest that begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon turns into an epic battle against hulking rivals, sand monsters, and impossible odds, as Conan (Jason Momoa) realizes he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil.

What we thought about the movie:

As this movie takes place some 12,000 years ago, during a legendary era when magic was real and monsters walked the earth, you can expect to some amazing backdrops against which high octane sword battles will be fought. Borrowing liberally from the official Conan canon, the film chronicles the barbarian’s early years, beginning with his birth during an epic battle in his village (his mother dies giving birth to him right in the middle of the fight) then on to the pillage of his village and the murder of his dad, and ending with his vengeance upon his first great enemy. What we loved about the movie was the high energy performance and great sword play by Mamoa. However, what we did not like so much was the poor acting and script that left us empty and missing what Arnie used to bring to the show. Arnie used to make his entrance by raising his Neanderthal brow, and had that maniacal grin that at least injected Conan with intermittent doses of campy humour. This was sorely lacking in the current Conan flick. Whilst the sword play and action sequence was convincing and well done (Momoa has a great physic no doubt!) there was hardly any quest or journey for the motley crew to find new adventures and build a story around – the plot jumping about from place to place only as a vehicle to provide a new backdrop for further sword play. Loads of impaling, head crushing and nose chopping but no dialog to get to know the characters in the show.

And so, despite its engaging start, Conan succumbs to a so-so ending. We would however, watch the show again for the energetic swordplay, the huge rippling, muscled body (of Momoa) and the pretty maiden in distress;) One thing I can say, without reservation, is this version of Conan is true to Robert E. Howard’s literary depiction of the character as a thief and pirate as well as a bulging murder machine. The ending also has an unfinished flavor to it. Momoa – like his predecessor – will more than likely be recast as Conan in a sequel. To paraphrase one of Schwarzenegger’s most famous quotes – he’ll be back!!


Conan the Barbarian will be in Golden Screen Cinema’s starting on the 25th of August.

 

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