Friday, August 19, 2011

Conan the Barbarian 3D Review

Did you know that Morgan Freeman was in the young people's TV program from the seventies, The Electric Company? I'm sure you're asking what this has to do with new Conan the Barbarian movie. I'm just thinking that back in the day, Morgan probably would have done a movie like Conan to make ends meet. I'm not sure why he narrated Conan but I'm pretty sure I know why he didn't ask for screen credit.

Conan the Barbarian starts out with a female being sacrificed. Then it moves on to something a little more violent. There's a battle in Conan's village where his mother carrying him in her womb gets stabbed. Her dying wish? Kill me so I can get out of this movie. Okay, that wasn't her dying wish. She asks her husband, Corin (Ron Perlman) and Conan's father to let her see her son. So he does a Cesarean and cuts the baby out. Hey, they didn't have health insurance. Not violent enough? Years later, the boy Conan gets attacked by some warriors. The boy slays the soldiers and brings back the severed heads as trophies.

Back to the plot. Anyway, Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) is looking for seven pieces to a magical mask that will 1) allow him to live forever with unlimited power and 2) bring back his dead wife who was a witch. By the way, she died by being burned alive. He's aided by his witch daughter, Marique. (Rose McGowan) Zym destroys Conan's village and kills his father by rigging a pot of molten metal to fall on him. Zym also needs the body and blood of Tamara (Rachel Nichols) and for her to be the love interest of Conan and to be filmed in a shadowy peek-a-boo love scene. Okay, that's cynical. How come Hollywood is scared of lovemaking scenes yet revels in violence? But I digress. Zym needs Tamara's "pure" blood to power the mask and her body to be possessed by his dead wife. When Conan (Jason Momoa) becomes an adult, he hangs out with a Bob Marley type pirate named Artus. (Nonso Anozie) Well, Conan decides he wants to be a comedian and host a late night talk show. Sorry, that's the wrong Conan. Anyway, in his quest for vengeance, Conan hacks, mutilates, tortures and beheads people for the rest of the movie. Hey, you didn't think human sacrifice, outdoor Cesareans and people getting burned alive was enough? They're trying to set a record for the most beheadings in a movie.

One big problem with this movie is that the action is unrelenting. The constant sword fights with all that blood is mind numbing. And the fight scenes aren't well executed because the fast cuts seem to be a cheap way of trying to generate excitement. It's also an ugly movie. By that I mean no one is worth rooting for. Yeah, I get it. Conan is a barbarian, not a florist. Still, all the characters are nihilistic with the exception of Tamara. There becomes a point where I didn't care what happened to any of them.

Then there are dumb moments in this movie. Conan's fight with sand warriors looked cool until you realize how silly it is. You see, the sand warriors are pretty easy to destroy since um, ... they're made of sand. And at the end of the battle, Conan lights a cache of gun powder. It's just an excuse for the movie to blow something up. But if they had gun powder why don't they have guns? My favorite stupid moment is where Artus who's supposed to be taking Tamara to safety aboard his boat, suggests she go ashore and make love to Conan. Huh? On shore, Zym's men are looking for her. So Tamara and Artus risk world domination by evil so Conan can get laid. And by the way, she does get captured.

As far as the performances, Jason Momoa thinks acting is about looking at the camera and uttering his lines like an Iron Age Dirty Harry. Stephen Lang chews up the scenery more than he did when he was in Avatar. Rose McGowan is unrecognizable in her make-up as Zym's witch daughter. That's good because she's not going to want anyone to know she was in this bomb. Only Rachel Nichols is good as a woman who seems more to be of the twenty first century rather than a woman alive 1300 B.C. But the writing is so bad, it makes no sense why Tamara loves the barbarian. Hey, that sounds like a new sitcom. Tamara Loves The Barbarian.

If you must see this movie, skip the 3D version. First, it's a conversion from 2D. I will give the director and writers credit for staging most of the action during the daytime. This movie doesn't suffer as much as other 3D movies for being too dark. Since it was a conversion, you can tell not much thought was given to setting up 3D shots. The picture doesn't pop. Nothing in this movie excites me about the 3D. The only shots that work are the CGI scenes of cities. And those usually look two dimensional cut outs with depth in the background. Look, what can I say when the best 3D effects are the title credits.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Conan in 1982 was more fun. Why? Because Arnold's wooden acting coupled with his thick muscle bound Austrian accent was funny. That didn't make his version much better but at least you could laugh with all the debauchery. This Conan looks cheaply made. It is full of unrelenting violence, dumb moments and bad acting. There's a moment where Jason Momoa utters Conan's goals in life. They are he lives, he loves and he slays. That's this movie in one sentence. I just saved you ten bucks. The grade is C-.

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