Last night, I went to movie on opening weekend. I never do this. I’m old, I don’t like people and crowds, especially teenage crowds, but it was for Conan. I felt obligated to give my money to the cause and support a franchise that I love.
The movie received horrible reviews, and my expectations going in were very low. We went ot the 7:30 showing on Sunday night, making sure to get to the theater early, expecting difficulty in finding a seat due to the large crowd of Conan fans. There were eight people in the theater. Eight! I actually walked back out the doors to check the marquee to make sure we were in the right theater. The movie was beat at the box office by The Help, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Spy Kids 4, and made a lousy $10 million, so it might be another 20 years before we see our beloved Cimmerian in theaters again. sigh.
The first ten minutes of the movie were actually pretty great. If you want to see it, here it is…
There, I saved you 12 bucks and two hours of your time. Seriously, this scene is the best part of the movie. Too bad Conan had to grow up.
Okay, now I’m going to say SPOILER ALERT as I talk about details of the movie. If you don’t want to ruin the surprise, stop reading here. I’m going to just write this post stream of consciousness-style because it really isn’t worthy of a polished review…
- The movie opens with Conan’s dad (Ron Pearlman) performing a filthy battleground C-section. Gross, brutal, dirty — but actually a pretty good beginning for the barbarian. Conan is next seen as a young kid, kicking ass and taking names, until the big bad guy, Zym, invades the village and kills his father. If the film continued on the same track as these opening scenes, we may have had a pretty decent movie.
- Cut to twenty years later, Conan is now a pretty boy with mad skills, looking for the man who killed his father. Overall, Jason Momoa fit the part pretty well, but if there is one reason he failed as Conan for me, it would be his love for Crest Whitestrips. Seriously, the barbarian has some beautiful teeth, not something one would expect from a man who lives on eating rats and getting his face bashed in on a daily basis. Overall, he was very clean and spoke as if he was college-educated. What kind of barbarian is this?
- Why do the humans roar like lions and bears? They’re not monsters, they’re just people with funny hairdos and bad teeth, but they sure are loud.
- The original Conan had this as his motto: “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women!” While the new Movie had the Cliff notes version: “I live, I love, I slay – I am content.” this just one of the many laughable moments in the movie.
- There were some pretty good fight scenes in this movie, but none of the 300-esque slow-mo stop action brutality we’ve come to expect in movies lately. I thought that was a good thing, but now that I look back, I wonder if maybe they should have incorporated that technique. The movie kind of gave me a vibe like it was Pirates of the Carribbean with an R-rating.
- The lead female character played by Rachel Nichols was fairly meek and looked bored most of the time. “Oh, I’m on the wheel of death, suspended over a lava pit. yawn.” There was no spark going on there, and the one love scene just seemed pointless, like most of the movie.
- Conan has a friend, a pirate with dreadlocks, who speaks like a well-educated rastafarrian. Why? His character did nothing.
- There’s another friend who is a thief and picks locks. Again, he contributes nothing. Neither of these friends helps him in any major way or battle. They were just a reminder of the sidekicks Arnie had in the original, remember them, they had a reason to be in the movie.
- Rose McGowan plays a creepy witch lady, and summons some sand creatures in a pretty cool fight scene.
- All of the big cities are shown from afar and really do look like matte paintings.
- There is absolutely no injury or loss suffered by Conan after the childhood scene, which makes for no emotional investment in this flick.
- There’s a scene where the main characters are on a boat which is boarded in the middle of the night by Zym’s soldiers, a big fight breaks out, and then everyone is on deck fighting in broad daylight. We are to assume that this fight has been going on for eight hours? This insanely obvious editing error just got under my skin.
- The whole movie is based on Zym trying to find this mythical device that will grant him incredible powers to rule the world. He finally finds all the pieces and has the pureblood maiden, so here we go. The mask comes to life and gives him a nice scalp massage. The whole mountain starts to fall apart and.. well, that’s it. That’s the extent of the power of this thing? IT DIDN’T DO ANYTHING! There are no explosions, no spirits reawakening from the dead, no giant monsters awakening — nothing. Conan and Zym fight. Conan wins. The end.
- Actually, Conan has one more thing to take care of. He rides the pretty lady home. She thanks him and he leaves without any emotion on EITHER of their parts. Oh, this movie was such a letdown.
- The sound effects guys on this movie had to have fun biting into apples and smashing watermelons to come up with all the gory sound effects.
- Morgan Freeman had a few narrating sequences which were worthless. My buddy and I just laughed every time we heard that sultry voice over top of such dreck.
Sadly, the movie wasn’t very good. if you’re a Conan fan, you are obligated to see it, but wait for Netflix. I had really low expectations for this re-make and unfortunately they were met, and if you were one of those other seven people in the theater, let me know what you thought of it.
Paxton Holley says
So sad. More wasted opportunities.
I want to see it but i shall be waiting to rent it i think.
Man… really bummed to hear this. 🙁
Can’t disagree with a lot of what you’ve said Brian. A few comments. The roaring of the picts was indeed annoying. Conan and Zym with perfect teeth were a bit of a distraction. I’m glad they didn’t do much with sidekicks, as Conan is supposed to be more of a lone wolf.
There was some pretty bad dialog in the movie, but the “I live, I love…” was pure REH…loved it! Not so fond of the Milius/Nietzsche “Crush your enemies…”. Probably something that Sean Hood added when he “Howardized” parts of the script.
The sand creatures…Epic! Nichols…disinterested. Glad they didn’t have any 300-esque slow mo. All in all, still the best sword and sorcery flick I’ve seen in a long time.
You know, that “I live…” line wasn’t bad, but the way Momoa said it so casually kept it from working for me. Picture Arnold saying that line, and it would have worked just fine.
I know my review was a “bit” harsh 😉 but that’s only because I love the franchise so much. There are certainly plenty of worse ways to spend a couple of hours.
” I Live…” line is Howard’s original writing, the Arnie one “Crash…” Milius took from some other writer; a book on Mongols and such.
Not harsh at all. According to what others say, you are easy on it. Personally I have read all Howard’s Conan, I liked the first movie, I like comics done by Nord and Buschema. I am super busy digital artist and I become to sort of plan my entertainment time way ahead – this movie is not going to be on my “feel obligated to watch” schedule at all any time soon, probably never.
Solidly written review, I’d say, still.
rome gray says
I don’t know why everyone hates this movie. All the things you listed as negatives were positives to me. I LOVE that the sidekicks were just marginal characters. Conan’s frineds always died eventually or just sailed away.
I delighted in the absence of any real emotional involvement between the girl and Conan. He’s not SUPPOSED to fall madly in love with anyone.
Conan was educated by people throughout his journeys, most notably a nomadic Prince in Red Nails, I beleive (could be wrong). He spoke many languages and if his teeth were perfect it’s due to him being a decendant of Ancient Atlantian Royalty, known to have been superior in every way to ordinary humans in the world of Hyboria.
People do not read between the lines of script and that’s why it takes them twenty years to recognize something as classic.
Mark my words: There will never again be a group of people as gifted or dedicated in trying to make a movie as close to the original source material as they’ve done with this film. Dino DeLaurantis Productions F-ed up Conan and they F-ed up Dune…but they looked and sounded GOOD…
This Conan is the BAR in barbarian. If only you could all see it from my perspective!
It’s just not fair. I hope there’s a sequel and I hope it makes EVERYONE eat a LOT of crow!
LOL I’m with you, really I am! I hope there are a dozen sequels! Serve up that crow and I will gladly eat it. 😉
The box office seldom lies. I wanted to like this movie but it was crap not so much from not following the original story but from a general bad movie standpoint. Wrong actors for one. Let’s face it Jason Momoa was still doing Baywatch just a series of poses and flexing in a sequence with some talking tossed in. I kept expecting the “hoff” to pull up in a jeep full of bikini-babes and beech balls. Sets and costumes were almost as ridiculous and silly looking as the weapons. The sword fighting and fake blood splatter was terrible. I think third graders on youtube have better sword fight videos. Arnold couldn’t act either but at least he looked mean not like some ghey twink version of a Fabio. I was reluctant based on Jason Momoa’s lack of acting in the star gate series but it appears he has actually gotten worse. Literally every aspect of this film was bad. Acting directing editing development of the story casting selections, It could serve as a study in how to do everything wrong to a movie IMO. They have screwed up the name Conan so bad we may not get another attempt for 30 more years. I will personally avoid any more films that use Jason Momoa. You would think for what they spent they could have gotten some real talent and made a decent 2-d film that would at least be watchable
I don’t think this movie would have been hurt if Hoff drove up in a jeep. 😉
Christopher Noon says
This was the best movie I’ve seen all day. Every movie should be exactly like this – filled with young kids punching each other in the face, gratuitous over-the-top violence, and severed heads – all just under 3 minutes!
Plus, it’s got a lesson for the kids – don’t put raw eggs in your mouth.
I could’ve done with less Hellboy talking, though. It did nothing but give us backstory and provide the characters with depth. That’s quality time that could’ve been replaced with robot ninjas and Giant CGI Lobsters.
Now, they just need to make a series of three minute sequels and I’m set!