Friday, February 21, 2014

Film Friday: Conan The Barbarian (2011)

“Behold and despair!” Yeah, that about sums up this film. This one stinks. It's pointless, plotless violence, and it's not even good violence. Avoid it.



Why This Film Stinks... as if you need to ask

Written and directed by Hollywood conservative John Milius and co-written by Hollywood nutjob Oliver Stone, the original Conan the Barbarian is brilliant. It's a solid action film that has an amazing Zen to it. The film flows like a pure mountain stream. It is the sound of one hand clapping and then driving a sword through you. It is a deep film, flowing with philosophy, drama and the things that ignite characters on film: an orphaned warrior lost in the world, friendship, love, a father's love for his daughter, a King who is helpless to act against a more popular foe, a villain who seems to have grown as a person to the point of near enlightenment only to discover that he grew crooked and his villainy is many times worse, etc. It is a film you can watch when you want some rousing action. It is a film you can watch when you want a thoughtful film. It is a film you can watch when you want to explore by proxy the relationships in your life. It is amazingly beautifully shot. And it has the best soundtrack of any film... ever. In fact, you can close your eyes and just listen to the score and fall in love with this film. Awesome.

The new movie is crap.

The end.
Oh, you want more? Ok. The new Conan has no point. Jason Momoa (Stargate Atlantis) plays Conan. He ventures from location to location killing whoever he finds in the most brutal ways possible as 3D blood flies toward the screen. His reason for existence is that his father (Hellboy) thought he was a wuss and couldn't handle a sword. Then some bad people came and they killed everyone in his village except Conan. The big bad meanie wore an enchanted mask. Conan has now grown up and he's looking for revenge as he works as a pirate to pay his bills. He kills everyone he meets... end of story. Oh, and there's a bald chick in this who is a sorceress working with the guy in the mask.
The cinematography stinks. Everything is shot in brown, perhaps because the script is crap. The action is boring. The actors stink. The characters need name tags because they are so cardboard and so alike, and that includes Conan. There isn't a moment where you will be asked to use your brain. There is a constant "chinking" noise that will drive you nuts... it's like hearing someone cock a gun every few seconds. There's nothing memorable about this film.
So why was this film made? I have two theories. The first is that this film was secretly financed by John Milius with the intent of reminding people just how amazing the original Conan was. The idea was to put out a remake so putrid that people would leave the theater in disgust and go buy the original on Blu-Ray just to get the taste of "Barbarian Cluster Fudge" out of their mouths.

Alternatively, someone said, "Hey, let's make a quick buck and exploit some famous property." And when they were asked what the storyline would be or who the writers would be, they responded, "Modern stories don't need storylines... or writers. Trust me, we'll wing it and then fix it in post."

I don't know, could be either. Don't really care either. Glad it lost more than half its budget.


shawn said...

"What is best in life?"- certainly not this reboot.

The look of the movie was uneven. At times it would look like a reasonable budget movie, but more often than not, it looked like a low budget tv "Hercules" knock-off. Raimi and Sorbo's endeavor was far more entertaining however. About the best I can say is Momoa looks the part of Conan, but it certainly isn't enough to recommend this dog of a film.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, It had an uneven look, no plot, and at no point did I ever care about anything that was happening. The whole film was basically an excuse to stage battle after battle.

As for Sorbo, I concur. His films are low quality, but earnest. This film didn't even manage to give that feeling.

Huusker said...

Conan, Total Recall, Robocop. It's like they are milking every property that is more than 25 years old. The next thing you know they'll be remaking Gilligan's Island or something. Oh wait..

Jason said...

Ironically, Sorbo actually starred in a film adaption of another Robert E. Howard character, Kull the Conqueror, in 1997. I bet it was better than this Conan remake.

tryanmax said...

I concur.

Anonymous said...

Conan! What is the good?
To destroy your enemies. To see them driven before you.To hear the lamentations of their women.
The question asked by William Smith, the greatest B actor who ever lived, and the answer delivered in an austrian accent.
One of the greatest moments in cinema,baby.
You can't remake magic.

KRS said...

I was just getting curious about this movie recently - thanks for warning me off, Andrew.

Since Kevin Sorbo came up in the discussion, I'll give him an enthusiastic endorsement. True, he may not be destined to become what anyone would consider iconic, but you hit it straight with the word, "earnest." When Sorbo plays a Hercules or Dillon Hunt, you really get the feeling that he's a good guy and he means well. When I watch him, I forgive a lot in the movie because I'm not expecting Shakespeare - I feel like I'm watching a buddy - if that makes any sense.

There are a few actors like that where I just naturally am drawn to root for them and they can keep me in a very cheesy, campy, or even amateurish story, just because of goodwill.

Sorbo seems to be unique figure in that, I feel a little compelled to think of him as a genuinely good guy who really means it when he's trying to say something big and inspirational. We all rail against cynicsm and he is about as anti-cynical in character and roles as an actor can get in the Third Millenium.

Kit said...

By the way, remember this moment from the original 1982 movie?
"Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!"

That was performed by the actor Mako Iwamatsu, who also did the voice of Uncle Iroh in the great animated TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender.

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, You're welcome. I was curious too. I like Momoa. I am capable of ignoring the original and enjoying this on it's own. I find that enjoy all kinds off fantasy schlock on the Sci-Fi Channel. And yet, this was a turd. This was just awful.

Interestingly, I like Sorbo as well. I've never liked anything he's been in, but I've always liked him. He projects as a very likable guy on screen.

AndrewPrice said...

Huusker, Anything for a buck, right? I'm hoping that the failure of these films will make them change course and finally start doing films right.

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, It was. Kull stunk, but at least it felt like a movie with a point. This one felt like a series of fights intended to demonstrate the 3-D aspect. So Kull was better.

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, Very true. You just can't remake those special moments.

In terms of this film, I was prepared to enjoy it entirely on its own merits without any thought the original, but this one was so bad that it left me with nothing except the thought of how horrible this was compared to the original.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, He had the perfect voice for the narration of this story. The new one uses.... Morgan Freeman. Played out.

AndrewPrice said...

Nicely written tryanmax!

Kit said...

I must say that I have seen neither the original film nor the remake. But your review makes me want to see the original.

Also, I have read several of Robert E. Howard's original short stories and I can safely say that they are very good. Though there are a few clunkers.

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

I mentioned this in my last e-mail... this! :-)

As for the film, I had zero interest in seeing it.

I enjoyed the original but I also learned in the process that I just wasn't a big sword and sorcery fan. Great movie, but the genre isn't for me.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, See the original and bask in the score. This score is so perfect that it's like the action was designed after they wrote the score.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Awesome! It's on my birthday list! :D

Kit said...

I have heard some of the music, specifically the opening credits and the "Riders of Doom", and it sounds awesome.

Koshcat said...

I love the original although I thought it was a little long but still very entertaining. I had no interest in the new one and now that interest is less than zero. I do have renewed interest to re-watch the original. Arnie often showed a great presence on film. The austrian accent just makes it better.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I love the whole soundtrack.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, Very true about Arnie. He has something that you can't quite explain that just makes you want to like him.

Jason said...

Speaking once again of Sorbo and Conan, the Conan franchise actually played follow the leader with Sorbo’s show Hercules. When Herc made it big in the ratings, a bunch of imitators raced to the small screen, including Sinbad, Tarzan, Robin Hood…and Conan! There was a Conan TV show called Conan the Adventurer in 1997. Never saw it, but since it ran for just one season it must not have made an impression. (Apparently, it was panned for being too much of a Hercules/Xena clone)

Also, has anyone heard of the John Milius script for a proposed third Conan movie?

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, There are always rumors about Milius doing a sequel to one film or another. I'll believe it when I see it.

I never saw the Conan TV show, but it doesn't surprise me. There seemed to be a lot of those types of shows at the time.

El Gordo said...

Your description of the 1982 movie is perfect. Oh how I love it, and Milius work in general. The 2011 movie had a totally fake looking CGI fire effect right at the beginning and Rose McGowan wasn´t even hot. That´s all I remember.

It seems Sword and sorcery movies are hard to do right. Pity. The 80s saw a few good ones so I´m inclined to like them.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks El Gordo! I love the 1982 movie as well.

I don't know why sword and sorcery films are so hard, but they do seem to be.

Rob S. Rice said...

I quite liked 'Kull,' which had good action, some actually quite thrilling 'DiLaurentis' sets and special effects, and some sentiments of which Robert Howard would have quite approved. Much eye candy, stuff you didn't see in the original or 'The Destroyer' (which I also liked!) and a sense of humor. Nice homage to the Odyssey in one scene, and Sven Ole Thorsen is always fun.

That all said--when it was done right the first time, why reward a lousy imitation? I felt the same way about 'True Grit,' and feel the same way about 'Robocop.' The one new film on an old hero I REALLY enjoyed was 'Dredd.'

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