It had to happen eventually: after having "Conan The Barbarian (2011)" in my movie folder for almost a month and a half, I knew I would have to sit down and watch it sooner or later. Why did I get it in the first place? Because despite poor reviews, I always like to give movies a chance, especially if I feel the material could be used to make something surprising.
However, "Conan" was not such a movie. When the best scenes are in the first ten minutes of the movie and don't involve the main character, you have a problem on your hands. Jason Momoa plays adult Conan, a barbarian, born on the battlefield. However, despite a lot of blood being spilled and some intriguing ways of killing off people, I found his Conan to be slightly - tame.
Let's compare, shall we?
You see, when I heard that Momoa was playing Conan, I naturally assumed it would be somewhat along the lines of his depiction of Khal Drogo in the show "Game of Thrones". That's him, on the left, and as you can tell, he's a real bad-ass. For real.
Now, with a name like "Conan The Barbarian" it kinda goes without saying that you expect to see a little barbaric activity. The first ten minutes of the movie definitely lived up to those expectations. Without giving too much away, let me just say it shows a young Conan, displaying some very nasty skills. Honestly, that kid was crazy, and totally believable.
Fast forward to the adult Conan, and things just didn't hold up. Jason Momoa, while showing flashes of barbarianism (word?) did not live up to the hype generated in the trailer. While I understand how they wanted to portray Rachel Nichols character Tamara (the love interest/damsel in distress) as being tough as nails, they carried it a bit too far in my opinion. I'm okay with an 'ass-kicking babe', but talking back to one of the fiercest warriors of lore? Yeah, Conan, you got punk'd. Now go wash the dishes.
As for the rest of the movie, it was almost a joke. The movie moves through so many different cities and locations in an attempt (I assume) to portray the vastness of the landscape, but these little 5 second cut scenes with some building or temple in the background and "Mushemillah" or whatever written below were just pointless; all the places looked pretty much the same. In the end I was wondering why they even bothered.
Of course, when you have a Barbarian hero, you need an equally bad-ass villain. Enter Khalar-Zym, a dude who wants to resurrect some ancient evil so that he can a) be king over the whole world and b) bring his dead wife back to life. He is aided by his sorceress daughter, played by a very creepy/sexy (depending on your taste) goth Rose McGowan. Honestly, she was the most convincing of the cast; clearly all those years on "Charmed" paid off.
In the end of course, after establishing that Conan is a bad-ass with a good heart (and a sense of humour, unfortunately), and that Rachel Nichols is a tough but dainty princess, handy with a knife but quick to scream "CONAN!!" in terror, we have the unnecessary R-rated sex scene (yawn), the typical damsel-in-distress situation, followed by Conan to the rescue, then cue end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario, people hanging off ledges about to die, walls collapsing all over the place, skulls falling down from the skies (I kid you not), and the eventual victory of our hero.
In a word, it was awful. Rachel Nichols must be wondering what she's got to do to get a good gig around here; G.I. Joe didn't do her any favours, and now this. Oh she was in "Dumb and Dumberer"? Never mind then.
Best line from the movie: Conan (to Tamara): "You look like a harlot."
Worst line from the movie: Conan: "I live, I love, I slay; I am content." - (pretty cool on paper, right? But just wait till Momoa actually says it in the movie. I've heard more emotion from Stephen Hawkins' voice box.
PS: Just a thought; why does everything have to blow up or collapse after the 'big evil' is defeated? It's always the case, the hero kills the bad guy, and as a result the big elaborate castle/structure/weapon of death just starts collapsing on itself and dying. Here, Conan rides off into the sunset and the skull shaped cave he was fighting in (again, I kid you not) just crumbles in the distance. Why, just.. why?