Saturday, January 7, 2012

Conan....The Slightly Below Average

Well it certainly isn't the Arnold version that most of us know, but it's not as bad as Kull the Conqueror. It's definitely not Lord of the Rings and that might be the biggest problem. We'll come back to that in a bit. I will try to make this as spoiler free as I can.

First let me say that the only Conan I know is the Swartzenegger movies and I didn't see those until high school in the 90's. I don't know the Robert E. Howard stories or the comic. I was always more of a pure super hero comic guy. I was told that this movie is closer to the Howard version of Conan.

The Good:

Jason Momoa is not a bad Conan. He looks the part and you can tell he was into it.

The beginning of the movie is pretty cool.

The Bad:

Almost everyone else.

The beginning is a cool story. Not sure of the need for a Morgan Freeman narration, but it's his thing these days. Similar to the Arnold version, but we spend more depth with the Cimmerian tribes. The battlefield birth is a stretch, but it actually works. Ron Perlman isn't bad with what he is given to work with. I like that they spent more on the back story of his people and tried to explain the Hyborian world a bit. There is also a nice nod to the "Riddle of Steel."

People thru a fit about the training borrowed from "Batman Begins." I was ok with the ice session. They were a people of the north. Where else would they train?

People have complained about the pacing and I understand, but it wasn't horrible. When we see Momoa, he is already a leader of men. It's my understanding that Howard's Conan was at also that. He is not just a brute in the sense that Swartzenegger was. I never bought his version as a thief. I found the bar scene to be a little corny, but it does a good job of explaining that Conan did love his alcohol and the attention of women.

Rachel Nichols is wasted? I am not sure she was great period, but I might be holding a grudge over G.I. Joe. There are fan boys who loved her, but I HATED EVERYTHING about that piece of garbage movie. She was just not a good choice for this role, but either her or her body double looks good naked. Conan ordering her around like she's his property is kinda amusing. The battle with the sand creatures is not horrible either.

I think my biggest problem with the movie was the villains. The underling villains are ok, but the main villains lack. Stephen Lang was not frightening enough. The evil overlord should make you fear him. This guy didn't. He was too over the top and not close to menacing enough. Rose McGowan is a waste of a character. She could have been so much better. The concept was there. The delivery was not. She was the better of the two. The item that they sought was ok and for this type of movie was typical. James Earl Jones character was a way better villain. He even had more menacing underlings. This guy, not so much.

The final fight was underwhelming. The end seemed rushed, but the beginning was decent. They borrow a lot of things from other movies. A powerful artifact, a cowardly thief, and a simple revenge story, but all of those worked. The story itself wasn't bad, but not executed properly. Crom is left out altogether and that is a mistake. I might really be nit-picking, but I didn't like the design of the swords. They did a good job of trying to take you places within the world, but the journey to get to those places lacked.

For its time, the Arnold version had an epic feel to it. This seems small. Not Sci-Fi Channel small, but not summer movie big either. The army of Khalar Zym didn't seem massive and unstoppable. This movie had been in developmental hell for a while. Everyone from Arnold to Triple H to Brett Ratner attatched. I would be curious to see what could've been done with a bigger budget for a better supporting cast. Jason Momoa made the character his own. He just didn't get much help.

Lord of The Rings has set the bar for this type of fantasy movie so high. That trilogy proved that it could be done right and people like us now seem to force fantasy movies to live up to impossible expectations. Conan is not as good as its 1982 predecessor, but it is not the worst movie to come out this year either. I give it a C+ and when it comes to summer entertainment, I've seen worse. Look at the bright side; at least they didn't cast Kelan Lutz or Channing Tatum as Conan. Hey it could've happened.

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