You know, when you hear that Conan was born on a battlefield that sound really cool. It sounds metaphorical and menacing. But when you see it depicted on the screen it's... well it's kind of dumb.
At least that's how it struck me in Conan the Barbarian which I saw last night.
My first disappointment with the film was that my local theater wasn't showing it in 3D. There's only one 3D equipped theater in our local 4-plex and that was reserved for Spy Kids. My second disappointment was Morgan Freeman as the narrator. Now, don't get me wrong... I love Morgan Freeman, but, for God's sake, the man narrates EVERYTHING! And to be honest I kind of missed the narration that Mako did in 1982's Conan the Barbarian.
Then there was the macguffin of the One Ring that Sauron forged to enslave all of Middle Earth and... No... no, sorry that's wrong. It was the Mask of Acheron that Acheron used to enslave all of Hyboria. Yeah, that's it. And the elves... sorry, barbarians... defeated Saur... uh... Acheron and shattered the mask and hid all the pieces across the land.
Okay. So now we're in Cimmeria and we see young Conan as a sullen pre-teen. And there are the raiders just like in the 1982 film. I thought this wasn't supposed to be a remake, but here we go. Oh, wait... kid Conan kills them all? Cool! Maybe this will be different.
No, wait, here are more raiders, a whole buttload of them and they're led by a wacked-out warlord who is looking for something. So... this is a remake? No? Yes? I don't know.
You know, once the movie got over itself, once the plot started going (Zym wants Tamara, Conan wants to kill Zym and keep Tamara safe) it was not a bad as action flicks go. If they hadn't tried to do all that Conan origin stuff, tried to shoehorn Zym into the Thulsa Doom role, if it had just been a sequel -- say, CONAN AND THE MASK OF ACHERON -- it would have been a decent action flick about on the level with the old Ray Harryhousen SINBAD movies (movies which I loved as a kid and still love).
Jason Momoa is closer to Robert E. Howard's Conan than Arnold was, but this movie does not have the sturm and drang that John Milius's film did. It felt like it was trying to generate it but it just couldn't. It shouldn't have bothered.
Conan the Barbarian, far from being the epic Conan film that Robert E. Howard fans wanted, is a second rate action film. What would Robert E. Howard himself have thought of it?
If you have the cash, see it, but try to see it in 3D. It will probably be better that way. If cash is tight, wait for the video.
I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?