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Conan The Barbarian Review

Hey look! Orange and Blue!

Let’s get one thing out of the way before we start this review:

I liked the Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan.

I liked it A lOT.

Truth be told, I haven’t read any of the original Robert E. Howard Conan stories, nor any of the Dark Horse comics.

To that end, everything I know (and love) of Conan has been culled from the Arnold movies, and the Conan the Adventurer cartoon series.

Fuckin’ loved that show…

*ANYWAY* while the examples of Conan that I’ve experienced may not be the most traditional, they’re all I have; and frankly, I don’t mind that.

Which brings us to the 2011 film version of Conan, the oddly titled reboot/retread; Conan the Barbarian, henceforth referred to as Conan the Hawaiian.

To be perfectly frank, Conan the Hawaiian honestly felt like a double-length episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, both in terms of plotting and tone.

Sadly, no Kevin Sorbo cameos...

Aside from the names of the locations, the origin story prologue, and maybe some of the characters; much of Conan the Hawaiian’s plot could easily have been transposed onto another generic sword and sandals flick with virtually the same degree of success.

Indeed, had the Conan name not been attached to this movie; for all intents and purposes, I likely would not have bothered to go see it.

Such is the power of licensing and iconography.

Despite all this, I came into the film with fairly realistic expectations.

I would never expect a movie called Conan the Hawaiian to have brilliant writing, nor any degree of complex storytelling in it’s plotting.

For the most part, I just had my fingers crossed for a hefty dose of tasty sword related violence, and a decent performance from the lead actor, Jason Momoa.

Way to go bra'! Represent!

Conan the Hawaiian delivered (with varying degrees of success) on both of my expectations for it, so why then is my opinion of the film so negative?

I think it has something to do with the inescapable elements of cheapness that are evident when watching the film.

For instance, do you want to know how you can tell a movie is cheap, even when it’s props and CGI backdrops are of decent quality?

When the film takes place in about a dozen locations, all of which are represented from afar by a CGI matte painting, and in the interior by a dining room sized sound stage.

Few things are more irksome in a fantasy film than being teased by the promise of cool cities n’shit, only to have the interior of said cities be represented by a SINGLE FUCKING ROOM.

Also known as Star Wars disease, wherein we frequently are shown the splendor of a cityscape, only to see maybe 3 locations within it.

Despite this minor quibble, one thing that I have to commend Conan the Hawaiian for; is the fact that it represents one of the rare cases when a shitty movie both acknowledges and revels in it’s shittiness.

As mentioned earlier, Conan the Hawaiian’s plot is pretty lame, not even as complex or engaging as The Scorpion King, (which is a better movie, in case you’re wondering) however one of it’s greatest strengths is the fact that it never attempts to be.

To my surprise, Conan the Hawaiian’s running time is largely dominated by action sequences, leaving little room for cheesy plot or equally cheesy dialogue from what I’d assume was it’s 5 page script.

The action/fighting is executed with some degree of competence, and it’s indeed quite bloody; however in my opinion the goryness of the violence could’ve been dialed up just a notch or 2 for effect.

Watching anonymous bad guys get cut down left and right every 5 minutes is fun and all, but it’s a lot more fun when said instances of cutting are unique and memorable.

I’m just saying, I personally would’ve appreciated a disemboweling or de-limbing here and there to spice things up.

In my book, EVERY movie needs a Mola Ram heart rip!

On that same note though, another gripe I had about the film was the fact that, early on we are teased by the villain possessing an honor guard of sorts, an elite cadre of unique villains who all participated in fucking over Hawaiian Conan at the beginning of the film.

By showing us these characters, and how they figure into Hawaiian Conan’s revenge plot, the movie makes a promise that we’ll see all of these characters meet their fate ala Shurayukihime, Kill Bill, and Conan the Barbarian.

While this does in fact happen, very little care is placed in how each of these characters are dealt with.

In fact, I only remember 2 of the characters receiving names, one of which bears a rather alarming resemblance to one of the other nameless honor guardsmen.

Pictured: A GOOD example of eliminating an interesting character OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE.

It’s a minor gripe, but it pains me to see a film like this, that has so little going for it in terms of plot; sweep away it’s own breadcrumbs though clumsily eliminating potentially interesting characters with little to no fanfare.

Gripes aside, the one element of the action that I can’t knock at all, was Jason Momoa’s swordplay.

Watching a man of Momoa’s size handle a sword with such grace is truly a sight to behold.

Indeed, he and Stephen Lang’s pair of duels in the film are very much the highlight of the film.

While I’m on the subject of Momoa, it pains me to say that his acting performance was kind of “meh,” though on the plus side; it’s hard to deny that his physical presence is the sort that can largely make up for that.

I think the problem with Momoa’s acting in the role of Conan, is the fact that the temperment of the character, at least in this film; doesn’t seem to fit him.

It’s kind of like Christian Bale’s turn as Batman in the Christopher Nolan films.

Bale does great as Bruce Wayne, and indeed looks the part of Batman, however something about the Batman voice and attitude just doesn’t work.

Momoa has these problems as Conan.

Everything seems to fit pretty well in his quieter and more contemplative moments, though whenever he’s supposed to put on his mean face and get all savage, his voice sounds forced and just doesn’t work for me.

On a side note, Leo Howard, the kid that played the young Conan; was probably the strongest performance in the whole movie.

Seriously man, that kid was a BEAST.

Moving on, despite having some decent actors involved, most of the performances in Conan the Hawaiian feel largely phoned-in.

Stephen Lang’s role as the villain is a little bit more complex than you’d expect given his motivations, however the paltry script affords him very little opportunities to flex his acting muscles or chew scenery.

For fuck’s sake, I can recall an instance when Lang is in battle in Conan and declares:

“I don’t like YOU!”

Really?

You’re the fuckin’ “last boss” of the movie, and that’s your big menacing one-liner?

Anyway, Rose McGowan’s turn as Lang’s creepy-ass daughter had some thought put into it, though it came across as being hammy in the bad way.

The bad way as in Sci-Fi Channel, “bad way.”

She does what she can to play to the morbid nature of her character, as well as her bizarre wardrobe, however at the end of the day she comes across as a shlocky villain in the tradition of The Baroness or Evil-Lyn.

That's right, I made a He-Man reference in a Conan review.

Oh yeah, Ron Perlman was in this movie too.

… That’s about all I have to say about that.

Anyway, Conan the Hawaiian wasn’t a horrible movie, especially if you’re purely in the mood for blood and boobs; however it’s largely uninspired and more than a little cheap.

I will say this though:

In terms of pure entertainment value, it’s better than Cowboys & Aliens.

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Conan Looks Like Shit…

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but they’ve finally released a theatrical trailer for the new Conan the Barbarian.

For those that are keeping score at home, in previous articles I made mention of the fact that the production stills for the movie had a decent look to them, and that Jason Momoa seemed a capable enough actor to take on the character of Conan.

Then the teaser was released, and suddenly the whole thing started to seem cheap and hokey.

CHEEEEEEAAAAAPPPP.

Despite this, I found myself more than willing to concede that this epic clusterfuck of a poorly conceived teaser trailer was mostly the fault of a lame-ass marketing department, and not a genuine representation of the quality of the actual film.

While that could in fact be the case, and indeed, could still be the case; it’s hard for me to say that the new trailer for Conan looks at all good.

TRAILER HERE

The production values seem decent enough, with some some nice background vistas, practical sets, and (excessively detailed) costumes, but the various action set-pieces the trailer promises are far from noteworthy.

Tentacle beast?

Albino sand people?

Magical claw lady cat fight?

I’m sorry, but none of that really seems like stuff I’d like to see in my Conan movies.

I think the worst comment I can make about this trailer, is the fact that it reminded me of the recent Clash of the Titans remake.

Pictured: Sky Marine hanging out with his Greek Protoss buddy in Medusa's layer. Don't worry, it's an inside joke.

For those who are unaware, Clash of the Titans is a pretty fuckin’ lousy remake, of a beautifully animated; but otherwise mediocre Ray Harryhausen film.

The one saving grace for Conan that is impossible to gauge from the trailer, is the fact that Lionsgate and Millenium Pictures movies have a pretty good reputation for including ridiculous amounts of violence in their films.

That being said, should this new Conan be as bloody and SAVAGE as it’s curiously over-the-top DEAD SERIOUS tone might suggest, there’s a good chance the various fade to black portions of the trailer might be concealing some truly epic bloodshed.

This is definitely a “maybe” for now, and at the end of the day it won’t really make the movie any more worthwhile than it already is; but in my book good action can go a long way towards making a shitty movie I spent $10 to see that much less shitty.

Here’s hoping this one doesn’t suck, ’cause despite all the shit I talked just now, it’s more than likely I’ll end up seeing it in the theater anyway!

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Thoughts On Conan The Barbarian Teaser

I’ve posted a couple of times now regarding my thoughts on the upcoming Jason Momoa Conan film, however this marks the first time said thoughts have been anything less than hopeful.

That being said, while I’m completely aware of the dangers of using a teaser trailer as a quality barometer for a yet to be released film, I’ve gotta’ say; whoever is in charge of the marketing for Conan The Barbarian needs to be dick-slapped something fierce.

Speaking of which, I’m not sure when they decided to go with the title “Conan The Barbarian,” but personally I think that was a bad move.

I mean yeah, I understand that the producers are probably looking to create some brand recognition, not to mention distance their film from the similarly titled Conan O’Brien show, but even so; the thought of 2 films of such a short series bearing the exact same name seems a little strange to me.

Anyway, let’s back to the topic at hand, namely that of the teaser from said Conan movie.

Speaking of which, I should probably post that for you to see.

Here yah’ go:

Long story short, I found the teaser to be laughable.

Other than a few foggy images fading in and out through a smoke cloud, there’s little to no content to be found within it, making it the very definition of a teaser; which in and of itself not a bad thing.

Remember when the first teasers for Inception came out and we were all totally drawn in by how enigmatic and full of Hans Zimmer infused BWAAHHHH!!!! they were?

Well, that would’ve worked for Conan, had they excised all of the voice-over and narration and instead gone with something a little more subtle.

Unfortunately, they didn’t.

No, instead we get some of the most over the top (and cerebral) voice-over this side of UFC commentary.

Seriously, I don’t know if it’s just me, but the voice of the narrator sounded really fuckin’ stupid to me.

He sounded like he was trying to work from the badass Don LaFontaine school of “IN A WORLD” style voice-over, but sadly it just kind of ends up sounding really dumb and horribly forced.

To make matters worse, when the narrator is switched out for Jason Momoa’s “Conan voice;” it ends up sounding like the 2 guys were trying to one-up each other in the excessively manly voice department.

Anyway, while the teaser might be really fuckin’ stupid, and poorly imagined at that; I feel it’s worth reiterating that at it’s core it’s just a trailer, and should have little to no bearing on the quality of the finished product.

In any case, I’ll still end up watching the movie anyway; ’cause let’s face it, it’s Conan, and Conan’s the shit.

In the hopes of giving this post at least some element of positivity, I feel it’s worth mentioning that in perusing the Conan The Barbarian wikipedia page, I happened to note that Bob Sapp was listed in the cast, which at least gives the movie the added benefit of potentially playing host to a Jason Momoa/Bob Sapp smackdown.

As you can see, Mr. Sapp is pretty fuckin' awesome...

As much as I like Bob Sapp, in all honesty; the man has a pretty awful track record in his film appearances.

Seriously man, Devil Man and Elektra were shitty movies on their own; however it could easily be argued that Bob Sapp’s presence in them, actually might have contributed to making them the piles of ass they are.

Come to think of it, he’s been out of the spotlight for long enough that I’m just kind of hoping he hasn’t ballooned into a fat fuck like a lot of retired pro athletes.

In his defense, "The Fridge" was never all that slim to begin with...

Huh, guess that wasn’t all that positive after all…

Anyway, here’s hoping that despite the horrible teaser trailer, Conan The Barbarian ends up being the worthwhile movie I’ve been waiting for all these years.

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Hoping This Summer’s Movies Don’t Suck

Man, work sucks.

I had an awesome idea for a card earlier today, but thanks to the sudden emergence of my mandatory overtime day tomorrow; I was forced to hold off on working on the good stuff until the weekend.

Oh well, even though the craftsmanship of the card above is indeed a rush job, and a shitty one at that; in my mind, any Conan is good Conan.

Speaking of which, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t have my hopes up for the new Conan movie this year; but I’ve got my fingers crossed nonetheless.

That seems to be the theme for all of the big blockbuster movies for me this summer.

I’m excited about them, but as of now my biggest hope is that they don’t end up being embarrassingly bad, or worse yet; “I want my money back” bad.

Transformers has a horrendous track record working against it, but it’s Transformers; so I’ll always be willing to give it a shot; common sense be damned.

"Common Sense" and Michael Bay just don't mix...

Green Lantern has good people involved in it’s production, but the art design looks kind of shitty; and Ryan Reynolds isn’t exactly my favorite leading man.

Especially when looks goofy like this.

Thor looks… Y’know what, fuck it. I don’t even wanna’ talk about how Thor looks…

...Although the prospect of seeing Anthony Hopkins in power armor is awfully enticing.

Conan looks to be headed in a good direction, with a harsher aesthetic and what not; however it’s seriously lacking in the Arnold quotient, (which is “zero,” for those that are curious) which will likely be it’s downfall being as the Arnold version is Conan for Conan newbs like myself.

Although the casting of Jason Momoa does wonders to improve the series' Hawaiian quotient, which is always a good thing in my book.

Oh yeah, and Captain America looks alright as of now, but like all of the others listed above; it’s very much a slippery slope.

Pictured: What said slippery slope can lead to when left unchecked.

The chances of a shitty summer movie season are pretty high, though in all honesty; I feel that I’ll probably end up heading to the theater more often than is the norm for me.

Anyway, I got work tomorrow, so I’ll see yah’ later.

 

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Thinking About Conan

It’s funny, until about 2 minutes ago, I was seriously considering skipping today’s post.

You see, I’ve had a distinct lack of motivation.

It’s not that I don’t have any ideas for posts, on the contrary, I’ve got ’em by the bucket load, rather it’s the fact that I simply don’t have the time needed to complete them after I get home from work.

Anyway, as fate would have it, my Ipod decided to assault my ears with the powerful and wonderous sounds of Basil Poledouris’ Conan the Barbarian soundtrack.

Man, why did he have to die...

Let it be known, the Azn Badger loves him some Basil Poledouris, but perhaps more importantly, he fuckin’ loves him some Conan.

In short, Conan is the shit, especially the Arnold Schwarzenegger version:

FUCK.  YEAH.

I was a late arrival to the Conan party, only actually seeing the 2 movies when in I was already in my late teens, (thanks J. Dong) but that doesn’t make me any less of a fan.

Actually, if you want to get technical about it, my first experience with Conan dates back to the early 90’s when I used to watch the cartoon series, Conan the Adventurer:

Yes, Conan was indeed THE SHIT.

Seriously, that cartoon was crazy violent for the time, making it especially memorable to my impressionable young mind.

Anyway, the point that I’m trying to make, is simply that Conan is FUCKING AWESOME:

Which leads me to my next point:

Did you know that they’re making another Conan movie?

I know what you’re thinking:

“How can they make a Conan movie without Arnold!?”

Well, truth be told, they probably cant.

Arnold on any given Tuesday.

Arnold brought to that role a level of charisma and gravitas that few actors could ever hope to match, and as such, he pretty much embodies the character in my mind.

Not only that, but despite the Conan films being made very early in Schwarzenegger’s career, they have a look and feel to them that is unmistakeably “Arnold.”

My point is, what I know of Conan is based around Arnold, thusly making any other interpretations of the character “wrong” in my eyes.

I’m not trying to be close-minded or head strong, but that’s just how it is.

The new Conan is going to be directed by Marcus Nispel, who just happened to direct Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pathfinder, and Friday the 13th, suggesting a penchant for/familiarity with bladed weapon-based combat.

Note that none of the films mentioned above are worth a baggy of monkey piss, nor were any of them filmed with any semblance of redeemable style or tact.

Pictured: A Urine Bag worth several cents more than any film on Marcus Nispel's resume.

It goes without saying, though Nispel might be better than say Brett Ratner, (the previous director signed to the project) he’s no prize pony.

ARE YOU FUCKING HAPPY RATNER!? YOU FUCKING KILLED JACKIE CHAN YOU HAIRY SACK OF FLAMINGO FUCK!

Conan will be played by Jason Momoa of Stargate Atlantis fame.

Hmm, a little Prince of Persia-esque, but somewhat promising nonetheless...

I’ve never seen Momoa’s acting, so I can’t say how he’ll fare in that area, but being as he’s a tall and muscular dude he seems at least physically prepared for the role.

He’s no Arnold, but if the movie sucks, (which it most likely will) then my guess it’ll be the director’s fault moreso than Mr. Momoa.

Do the Hawaiians proud Momoa.

Ron Perlman is also featured in the cast, which is very much a good thing.

Ron Perlman sans makeup.

Mr. Perlman turns out consistently entertaining and engaging performances, plus it’s an interesting novelty to have Conan’s voice actor from the 2007 videogame present in a live-action Conan film.

On the production side of things, the music is going to be done by one Steve Jablonsky.

I liked Jablonsky for about 5 minutes.

I enjoyed his soundtrack for Transformers, however pretty much as soon as the curtains went up after that film ended, and he became the composer for the nerd population of the world, I came to realize that he’s pretty much a one trick pony.

This is just about the best he’s capable of:

While very good, that’s about all he’s got.

Pretty every score he does is same shit different day.

Insert heavy percussion here.
Insert brooding male choir there.
Top it off with some heavy electronic effects, and you’ve got your basic Jablonsky score.
Now I ask you, compare that to the epicry that is this:

That’s right, Basil Poledouris is THE SHIT.

RIDDLE OF STEEL FOREVER BITCHES!

In case you can’t tell by now, my personal expectations for the film are extremely low.

I truly and honestly believe that this film will suck balls.

Pictured: The promotional image that first made me think this movie was going to suck.

It kind of sucks to think that way about a franchise I love and respect so much, but when you look at the cast and director, and the fact that the film has been in development hell for so fucking long, one can’t help but feel like this movie was doomed from the moment the writer’s pen first hit the paper.

Anyway, just felt like talkin’ about Conan for a bit.

See you in the theater when this one comes out next year.

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