Saturday, December 3, 2011
Conan the Barbarian
I'm a huge fan of Conan (the original stories by Robert E. Howard as well as the films from the 80s and the Marvel comics), so I was looking forward to it, but I never got around to seeing it in the theater. I was just too busy, I tried to see it with my friend Darryl and our schedules never lined up during this film's release, and, frankly, the overly negative reviews took away some of the shine. After all, that Conan TV series was bad enough, and I didn't need to sit though a feature length film that was just as bad or worse. As I said, everybody hated this movie, from the critics to the commenters on the IMDB immediately after it was released.
Here's the thing: If you saw this movie in theater after watching the trailer and didn't end up liking, you're just a friggin' idiot. This movie was basically a feature length version of the theatrical trailer. If you enjoyed the trailer enough to see the movie, there was no reason why you wouldn't like the movie itself. In fact, there was no reason why you shouldn't even like this movie better than the trailer, since it had way more gore and boobs and other stuff you can't put in the trailer. Granted, saying a movie feels like a feature length trailer isn't necessarily a good thing, but it's not all together a bad thing either, especially not when you're talking about a movie like Conan the Barbarian.
Long story short: This movie was awesome, and all those people who said it sucked can go eat my shorts.
I'm not going to say this was a masterpiece or recommend it for everybody, but if you are the kind of person who'd be interested in seeing a movie based on Conan, this was a pretty good one. The special effects and sets were outstanding, the action set pieces were a lot of fun, the cast was pretty cool, and there was lots of gore and ridiculously over the top sequences. It was also a pretty good Conan movie, looking at it as an adaptation of the stories by Robert E. Howard, of which I am a big fan. The character was pretty well represented, and they made him smart and well spoken as well as strong and fierce as he is in the stories, and the setting and universe seemed pretty much perfectly captured. The story was a bit weak and hard to follow but it was never boring or so confusing it became a chore to watch.
Was it as good as the 1982 version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger? Probably not, but it's maybe more faithful to the original stories if that means anything. John Milius is a better director than Marcus Nispel (whoever that is?), so the '82 film had a bit more depth, was more thoughtful, and seemed to have an actual story with a real character arc for the titular character. This 2011 version doesn't have any depth and the main character arc is tacked on and confusing, but it does have better special effects, a story that is more epic in scope and scale, and a vision of the Hyborean world that was just awesome. Also, Jason Momoa is probably a better actor and more handsome than Arnold was, but he lacks the star quality. The original Conan film turned Arnold into the biggest star in the world, but I don't think the same will happen to this new guy, even though he was perfectly decent as Conan.
So... check it out if you've been wondering if it's good. Well, maybe I shouldn't say good, since that word carries a lot of weight and can be so subjective. I should just say... check it out if you've been wanting to watch a movie where Conan slices up lots of bad guys and monsters and witches. Why did I even write this whole reviews when I should've just said that?