First of all, let me get this out of the way… CONNNNAAAAN! Okay, now that I got that out, I went to see the movie CONAN THE BARBARIAN and it wasn’t bad. I’ve been a fan of the character for a long time. Though I do have to catch up to the Robert E. Howard books, I did love the marvel comics and Savage Sword series. That was some good comic reading.
Let me just start off by saying that they got the visuals just right.. Not just the costumes and the environments, but the feel of Conan’s world. There were images that were right out of the books, the Frazetta paintings and the various comic series. Especially the Dark Horse run, which was beautifully illustrated. The CG, on the other hand, could have been better. The cities and castles were okay, but there were some special effects that just didn’t do it for me.
The only things that really dulled my Hykarian steel blade was the Dialog. Agghh, it was too modern for a Conan story. No authenticity! Where were the ‘By Crom’ and the ‘Die, you stygian dogs’ and the ‘filthy Cur’ lines that littered the material back in the day. If the actors even delivered with a more archaic accent, that would have been an improvement. And talking about the acting… don’t get me wrong it wasn’t BAD, but it could have been a lot better. I think that might have been the Director (he directed Pathfinder) and writer’s fault as much the actors. Still, I think Jason Momoa played a pretty good Conan. A lot of people are going to say his acting was bad, but this isn’t Shakespeare… you can only take it so far. At times I think he was really feelin’ the role. Don’t look for the Schwarzenegger Conan, Momoa was more of a younger version.
**** SPOILERS, BABY… SPOILERS ****
This Conan started out the same as the 1982 one with Young Conan being taught by his pappa Corin about the way of the steel sword. Everything is going fine, with young Conan passing his initiation and even killing a bunch of forest savages along the way. But that all ends when this warlord Khalar Zym comes down the pike with his crazy Freddy Kruger teenage Daughter Marique. Zym, played by Stephen Lang and Marique played by Rose McGowan are looking for the last piece of a mask that will supposedly bring his dead sorceress wife back from the dead. Zym kills Conan’s dad Corin, played by Ron Perlman, but lets Conan live. Big mistake of course. You just can’t just leave a Cimmerian live, no matter how old they are, cause they will phone check you one day.
Flash forward some years and we see Conan (Jason Momoa) as a grown man, free willed and thirsting for adventure. You get a sense that he and his pirate friend Lucius (Steven O’Donnell) have been traveling together for a while, thieving and fighting and occasionally doing a good deed. And typical of a Conan story, all of this usually ends with a flask of ale in Conan’s hand and a half-naked wench in his arms. Now that’s the Conan I remember.
But things turn as Conan gets a lead as to where the man who took his father’s life is hiding. Conan sets out to find Khalar Zym and avenge his father, but along the way he gets entangled with a woman named Tamara (Rachel Nichols). The very woman who Zym needs to make the magic of the mask work, and bring back his honey.
Now as I said, this movie was visually perfect. Momoa’s sword fighting, the costumes, the landscapes and backgrounds, the Pirates, the City of Thieves, even the bare-breasted women of the taverns; all of that was authentic and right out of the source material. If they had just gotten the dialog and acting right, it would have definitely went up a couple notches with the audience. The other problem with it is that it’s too grown for a young audience, but may not be serious enough for grown folks.
I say if you really like Conan, then you probably won’t be too disappointed. But if not then you can wait for the dvd.