The Sanctum

Welcome, traveller. This be the realm of Jay Niner, where everything be possible, and nothing ever happens. If, perchance, thou wisheth to tarry, then find thou a page from the Grimoire and read. For we are here in eternity, and we are in medias res.

31.8.11

Review: Conan the Barbarian (2011)

If you want that sword-slinging, gut-wrenching, brutal feel, then go watch this. And stay with it.
Jason Momoa should have stuck to playing Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, but I suppose his contract expired since his character dies in the first few episodes. 
So he rebounds into this, and does a Khali act from Get Smart!. Wonderful. 
On top of which we have Rose McGowan, once tipped off to be the next Red Sonja, acting as a witch. Stephen Lang pulls off his trademark villain role, as the infamous Khalar Zym; but he's a far cry from his performance in Avatar or The Hard Way, and a very far cry from James Earl Jones' Thulsa Doom in the '84 Conan the Barbarian. 
So, why am I slamming the movie? I was looking forward to it in a big way. I mean, there's only so much gut-smashing, smart-talking action you get from Duke Nukem, but Conan's in a different league- he's smarter and meaner; sort of like comparing a wolf to a jaguar. 
I've been a big fan of the whole franchise- from Howard's original stories to Marvel's adaptations, and then the current Dynamite Comics' series. There's an appeal to the character- and how the stories are told.
Although Morgan Freeman narrates well, he doesn't start with the trademark "Do you know, O prince..." and I wasn't expecting that. 
The point is, this looks and feels like a rehashed Deathstalker, for Christ's sake. The graphics are bland in places; there's a point where the camera does a dolly act past a mud city in a cliff; and although I suspect it's supposed to be abandoned, it looks like a cheap inch-high replica instead of original animation.
Odd.
And there's Conan's monosyllabic grunts... nuts. Rose McGowan? Oh dear. Stereotype bad witch. Rachel Nichols? Stereotype Damsel in Distress; again, look to the original for her counterpart. And Khalar Zym. Although the character looks great, he just doesn't have that force behind him- that evil menace that's so common on screens these days.
Altogether? Two stars out of five. Not even worth downloading. Even the erotic scenes don't match those of Howard's original descriptions- and they're comparatively mild if you look at Drive Angry or Machete.
To top it off, this year seems to have been a bad one for Comic Adaptations; from Green Hornet to Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens, or even Captain America (which I'll admit is still better than all of the abovementioned), they've all been lacking. I mean, look at Thor, or Iron Man. 
What made those two so much better? If that question could be answered, I have no doubt that we'd have an award-winning comic adaptation. Until then, they'll just teeter between being comic adaptations and plain comical.
Signing off.
Overall rating: Two Stars.
Pros: Environment, Ron Perlman's performance, music
Cons: Everything else: weak characters, weak plot.

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