Friday, August 19, 2011

Conan the Barbarian – Film Review

TITLE: Conan the Barbarian
STARRING: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Saïd Taghmaoui, Leo Howard, Bob Sapp, Ron Perlman
STUDIO: Nu Image Films, Millennium Films, Paradox Entertainment, Lionsgate
RUN TIME: 112 min
RELEASED: August 19, 2011

By Eric Stuckart
Creator, Destroyer

“I live, I love, I slay, and I am content.” In one short statement, the new reinterpretation of Robert E. Howard’s sword and sorcery character Conan the Barbarian pretty much finds his main words to live by. Not an abomination by any means, the film flies by on the edge of a blade in a flurry of quick cut editing and gory kills, interspersed with the occasional nuisance of trying to tell the story. That of all things is the most glaring problem with Conan the Barbarian.

Despite the over the top nature of the violence, the film has a decent enough setup. Literally cut from his mother’s womb on the battlefield, Conan grows up the hard way, watching his father (Ron Perlman) and his entire tribe brutally slain at the hands of the evil warlord Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang). It seems that Zym is on the hunt for all of the pieces of a mystical mask that grants its wearer godlike powers. So you’ve got the vengeful, bloodthirsty Conan at odds with a vengeful, bloodthirsty warlord looking to become a god. Sounds like a great setup for a bloody good time. If only…

The film flashes forward years later, where Conan grew up, bulked up, and has aligned himself with a bunch of like-minded seafaring men not unlike pirates, who just live for the day and emancipate the random group of slaves from time to time. Incidentally, it’s after setting free their latest group of lucky survivors that Conan runs into soldiers who he remembered from the fateful day in his childhood. And thus he maims, beheads and beats the living snot out of anyone dumb enough to get in his way, until he finds out who exactly he’s up against and where he’s hiding. His plans end up crossing paths with Tamara, on the run from Zym. The last of a royal line, the sacrifice of her ‘pure’ blood is needed to make Zym’s mask functional. She asks him to escort her to safety, but he has better plans. He uses her as bait to attract Zym, and his daughter Marique, a powerful witch played by Rose McGowan.

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