Thursday, August 25, 2011

Friday's Flick Picks

New Release - Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Anytime a classic film is remade, there runs the risk of comparison.  Comparison which essentially works against the remade version.  It sets itself up for imminent failure when trying to recreate the success that another film has already created.  I could sit here and list a good number of remakes that have been released over the past couple of years but that, my fellow film fans, would probably take forever and a day.  It seems that Hollywood has chosen to take delight in recycling as many stories that it possibly can.  Sometimes it works out; sometimes it tanks horribly and ends with a devastating crash and mega explosion that claims the careers and reputation of everyone involved.  Conan the Barbarian kind of sits in between those two places for me.  I mean even if such a place exists.  Trying to dust off any betrayal to Mr. Schwarzenegger that I felt for wanting to see this film, I walked into the theater with mixed emotions.

Stargate: Atlantis and Game of Thrones alum Jason Mamoa takes over duties playing Conan in this recent version to the 1982 epic.  I really liked the first 15 minutes to the film.  It focused on a young Conan played by youngster Leo Howard, who also played a young Snake Eyes in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra a couple of years ago.  He played the character a little too far on the sadistic side for my liking but it played out in the action sequences that he was a part of.  With a knowledge of martial arts (did his own stunts in G.I. Joe), I see bright things for this kid in the future.  So, Conan loses his mother at birth and loses his father, Corin (Ron Pearlman), years later when his Cimmerian village is raided by a bandit named Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang).  Zym is on the search for a special magical mask that will, of course, allow him to be pretty much invincible and “rule all the land”.

Seeing his father die in front of him sets Conan on a life mission to find the bandit who has since become a feared legend.  Conan meets and entrusts different characters who aid him on his quest including the very attractive Rachel Nichols who plays a female monk named Tamara.  When he discovers that Zym and his daughter, Marique (Rose McGowan), are seeking Tamara, he claims for her for his own. He hopes that she will serve as the key to finally earning him his confrontation and desperately desired revenge against the man who killed his father.

The aspect that I enjoyed the most about this film is the constant action.  There had to be some sort of limit to non-action scenes clause in the production contract or something.  It seemed like every 7-8 minutes someone was getting punched, slashed, stabbed, losing a body part, dying or taking a big boot from Conan to the chest (which was my favorite).  The film was filled with too much CGI blood for my tastes however.  Whenever Conan’s sword tasted someone’s flesh, the blood sprayed like it was shot out of something that is located in Yellowstone National Park. 

Something else that bothered me a little was the editing of all the fight sequences.  It felt like the shots were jumbled and the camera was too close to all of the action at times making it somewhat difficult to see the full picture.  Luckily this didn’t happen all the time because the action that did take place was pretty well done.  The sword wielding and fight choreography was definitely entertaining.  The acting wasn’t anything special, which I didn’t expect it to be, with a film focused so heavily on action.

Of course you can’t have Conan without having a decent amount of nudity, female nudity.  It was kind of funny to see the women just walking around topless.  Then even funnier to see Conan and his fellow warriors just scoop them up so they can have their way with them.  Speaking of Conan and interacting with females, the way that he ordered Tamara around had me chuckling to myself.  I thought, there’s no way a woman from today will ever respond to “Come here” and “Be quiet and do as you’re told” in a nice way. 

One thing that Conan did do was set itself apart from the original.  That was something that the crew had set out to do in the first place.  Especially when Jason Momoa admitted that none of them had even seen Arnold’s version.  I was a little disappointed to discover that bit of information but the final product, although not epic, didn’t completely disappoint either.  Momoa is said to be penning the sequel which I will interested to see how that one turns out.  With some disappointing Box Office returns, perhaps the production crew will seek to up the ante a bit to satisfy the die-hard Conan fans.  I give Conan the Barbarian “3.5 of what is best is life out of 5”

“I no longer like you Barbarian”