Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
Thor
8.25 out of 10

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Conan The Barbarian

Conan The Borebarian

Director: Marcus Nispel
Writers: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, Sean Hood
Cast: Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Rachel Nichols, Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan, Bob Sapp, Steven O'Donnell

Conan the Barbarian (2011) movie still

SYNOPSIS: Born from the folds of battle, Conan is raised as a warrior in his barbarian tribe. When he watches his village and father get destroyed by a power-hungry overlord in search of a fragmented object of magical power, Conan dedicates his life to tracking the overlord and his captains down for revenge..

REVIEW: Marcus Nispel, director of remakes such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) and Friday the 13th (2009), and a period warrior picture Pathfinder, takes a stab at another sword-wielding warrior named Conan. Based on Robert E. Howard's creation in 1932 spanning comics, books, games and film, Conan has become a iconic cultural figure, culminating in the mainstream recognition of the character with the Arnold Schwarzenegger portrayal in the 1982 Conan the Barbarian and the 1984 Conan the Destroyer. Based on a script from writing team Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (Dylan Dog: Dead of Night) and Sean Hood (Halloween: Resurrection), Nispel tries to recapture audiences' imagination of this battle-hardened barbarian.

Set in the 'vanished' Hyborian Age - the time between the loss of Atlantis and the rise of the known ancient civilizations - Conan the Barbarian was born in the midst of battle as the son of the leader of the northern Cimmerian tribe. Holder and protector of one of he fragments of a mask conceived in dark magics and pure-blood sacrifice, Corin, Conan's father, and the Cimmerian tribe are suddenly attacked and destroyed by the ambitious warlord Khalar Zym, his sorceress daughter Marique, and his forces in search of the final piece of the mask. Vowing revenge on those responsible for what he witnessed as a youth, Conan escapes and grows into a pirating, plundering warrior bent on destroying those whose took away his youth and tribe.

Jason Momoa (Stargate: Atlantis) looks the part as Conan, chiseled, hulking and capable with his steel. Joining him are Ron Perlman as his father, Corin, Stephen Lang (Avatar) as the power hungry warlord Khalar Zym, Rose McGowen as Zym's creepy magician daughter Marique, and Rachel Nichols as the last of an ancient pure-blood race Tamara, the key to activating the ancient mask once assembled.

This action fantasy adventure has plenty of production value just south of $100 million but the story just doesn't resonate like sparks flashing off of clashing metal weaponry. The fantasy action adventure is a tough genre and today's audience is more fickle to please. In the early 80s, The Beastmaster and Krull followed the original Conan the Barbarian, fulfilling a want for sword swinging, magic casting, and mythical creatures. Even the 90s and early 2000s saw its share of fantasy television with Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess and the Oscar-winning epic trilogy films LOTR. With obvious comparisons to the original films, Conan the Barbarian has plenty of vengeance, swords, muscles, conflict, magic, thievery, and CGI serpents. In fact, the opening act of the film with Conan as a child taking on and beheading several rival tribe warriors looked to be a good omen for the rest of the film. But in spite of a solid cast, with Momoa looking the part of Conan, Lange as the ruthless warlord Zym, and McGowan as the almost as ruthless, serpent-like, lithe Marique, the movie falls short. The CGI is great in parts, but fails to deliver on some of the most simple of green screen backdrops. The story starts off well - although the birth scene is a little cheesy - but loses its luster throughout. With expectations on par with POTC, anything else seems tired and lame.

Although Nispel's Pathfinder starring Karl Urban was not well received, it succeeded where the new Conan the Barbarian fails. Creating remakes seems to only work for Nispel when the franchises are in the genre of horror. Better luck next time!

WORTH: Netflix


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