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Director Marcus Nispel is undoubtedly the long-lost offspring of trash
master and fellow German, Uwe Boll, as this film is so profoundly awful
on every level that it's hard to think that it wasn't intentionally
made this way.
Remarkably, the movie gets bad immediately and stays that way. One of its most jarring aspects is that it begins with Morgan Freeman's narration, which sounds so utterly out of place, with his comforting, slightly Southern drawl the total opposite of everything bloody and Cimmerian, that it instantly comes across like self-parody, as if we were seeing some schticky Mel Brooks interpretation after the fact. This ham-handed disregard for appropriate tone haunts every frame of the film.
The story fails to find the real Conan -- who in Robert E. Howard's stories is a smart, tough, brutal survivor -- and instead seems to reveal to us the underwhelming idea that Conan's just another hunky sword dude with a knack for slaughter.
The script inconsistently sticks to any epic poetic flair in the dialog, so that when such words are delivered, they feel forced and flat. The noted line "I live, I love, I slay, and I am content," is meted out with such lack of panache or feeling that I wanted to wash out Jason Momoa's mouth with soap, right after forcing him to watch Schwarzenegger -- not a great actor, by any means -- deliver the unforgettable tagline: "To crush your enemies, drive them before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women." But then again, John Milius bothered to direct his actors.
Stephen Lang (Colonel Quaritch of "Avatar") is the half-assed villain Khalar Zym, who inspires zero awe and no respect on his whatever quest for some supernatural thingy, which is such an afterthought that you constantly forget about it. And post plastic-surgery Rose McGowan as his witchy daughter Marique is so outrageously goth that you half-wish for a Sisters of Mercy musical cue every time she steps on camera; if only her performance received the same attention as her over-the-top costumes. Ron Perlman, as Conan's father, is simply wasted. Weep!
I'm totally sick of the short-attention-span style of storytelling. The filmmakers are so afraid that if some big action sequence doesn't occur every ten minutes, that we'll be bored; and of course, this quickly has the opposite effect, as we instead become bored from so much pointless, poorly shot and edited action unsupported by character or story. Video games often have more character development than this film, and yes, I'm specifically thinking of the comparatively Shakespearean struggles portrayed in Donkey Kong.
I bestowed two stars on this flick, as the second is for unintentional hilarity, of which the film has much. Its hyperbolic Hyborian cartoonishness makes you either wince or chuckle derisively. Hopefully, as many heads as roll on screen will also roll in Hollywood for this abortive, dreadful garbage.
Perhaps the noble Conan will someday get his proper due in a modern film. But not today.
First, I would like to say I love Howard's stories. I also like the 82
film. So that this deviates from Howard a little (or a lot) isn't
really a bother to me.
Now, before I get to the review I want to say to anyone out there studying film (like myself) to watch this movie. It will prove to you that no matter how much action, blood or one liners you squeeze into a movie, if the story and characterization are missing you don't have a movie.
Without ANY disrespect, I would urge Mr. Nispel to do a film course, as he clearly needs to learn story telling at its most basic. This is not an insult, this is advice, because I believe once he has a better grasp on it, he will make a fine film maker.
Conan the Barbarian is a summer movie. Sadly this also has become synonymous with stupid, bad movies. And this film doesn't escape that. Clearly this film had a lot of trouble, by the looks of it at the conceptual stage. The fact the Sean Hood had to rewrite on set proves the material they had to work with was a disaster, and it shows.
Donelley and Oppenheimer (forgive my spelling) did a poor job on the script, if, what was shown in the final cut was more or less what they wrote. Mr. Hood's rewrites I heard were quite well received, but I also hear they cut most of what he wrote out of the cinematic cut...
This film, cursed with a poor script fails at even just an entertainment level. Sure, there is lots of action and fighting, but there is no emotion behind it. I was actually bored half way through of the fighting and wanted some damn character scenes, of which there are none of note. And that is another problem, after the first act (young Conan) nobody has any character. They walk around, kill or die and that is all. Their motivations are given to us in a single line and that is all.
The cast were good, but they had nothing to work with. The directing was inconsistent, the mood was all over the place, at times it smelt of a less fun Scorpion King with Artus and Elan-sha (I know I got those names wrong) being out of place "comic relief". Stephen Lang, as usual is good, but again, he has nothing to work with, so he stands and acts mean a lot.
The one thing that really took me out of the world of the film, is the dialogue. Which lacks any sort of finesse, culture, period etc. It sounds like modern speech... which is one thing it shouldn't sound like. Imagine watching a Western where they all talk in modern American slang, that is what this dialogue felt like. It was dialogue you write in your first draft, then go back over and make it good...though it seems no one did in Conan.
The film looked nice, I'll give it that. Some scenes were too bright and conflicted with the mood, but again, the mood changed as often as it would in an angst ridden teenager. The CGI wasn't bad, it wasn't great but it was serviceable.
The Dweller scene was pathetic. There was no choreography, set up to it, Momoa literally stood in one spot for most of it and did just ducked around a lot. Clearly a complete failure in the directing department for this scene which had no climax.
Costume and wardrobe design was impressive. Lang's armour and get up were nice, McGowan looked sexy in a freaky kind of way. So visually it almost always worked.
Overall, I suggest seeing it if you are curious, it isn't the worst thing to happen to cinema by a long shot. But, with no story, at least none that is told in a coherent way, no character development or motivation and no sense of culture or the world the characters (caricatures) inhabit it not only fails as a Conan movie, it fails as a movie. It fails as a coherent story told with moving pictures, it breaks the very foundation of cinema's rules. It cannot engage an audience, because there is nothing for us to care about. As a video game, this would kick arse. As a movie, it falls on it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'd seen the original a long time ago.. but I still knew the general
idea of what to expect before going into this reboot.. an R-Rated
warrior action film with slight elements of the supernatural that was
more about entertainment value than high art, suffice it to say,
suffice is probably too complicated a word for the audience this remake
is aimed at.
I liked Momoa from Game of Thrones, he had the perfect physical quality to portray a warrior, and despite being a character of few words he really sold it for me, and as a result I really could see how he was ideal casting for Conan, he's a more rugged Dwayne Johnson.. but I still feel Johnson has a lot of untapped potential to be one of the real action stars of the decade along with Diesel and Statham.. but it's good to know Momoa is in line to join these guys.
Back to the film... from the very first scene, you are basically told this movie is going to be over the top in a bad and very lazy way.. apparently Conan is "battle born", in other words his father Ron Perlman is surrounded by countless merciless foes, of which he takes down a couple while screaming, and then he tends to his pregnant wife, akin to a scene from the recent Cowboys & Aliens, we are taught that during Hollywood battles you are allowed respite from the enemy if you enter an emotional two shot close up with a loved or cherished one, no one will dare attack you, it simply wouldn't be fair.. so yes amidst the carnage Perlman and wife share some tender and distraught words, she wishes to see her son before she dies, and without even really looking he takes a nasty looking knife and performs the fastest C-section known to mankind, and voila.. he brings up a CGI baby.. the mother looks on, smiles, then dies, Hellboy is highly moved by these events, so decides to perform a Lion King and holds the child aloft and screams out loud, the camera pulls in beckoning the film's title to force itself upon us.. this scene literally lasts 3-4 minutes.. and none of the attacking savages notices it happening, or pays any attention to the angry barbarian king screaming and holding a newborn baby above his head.. As i said i came into this film willing to hold my disbelief.. but seriously.. could this scene not have taken place in a hut or some other hidden shelter? Conan would still have been "battle-born", the first thing he tasted (like every child) would still have been his mother's blood, yet it would have been ten times more intimate and moving, and hundred times more believable. I completely understand this isn't meant to be highbrow, but there's no harm in adding just a slight bit of realism and genuine emotion to a fundamental scene, It will only involve the audience more and at little expense to any of the tone. As a result of this scene, I never cared for any character for any moment.. the film failed from its very inception.
If Lord of The Rings was Peter Jackson making love to the audience, Conan is him self pleasuring himself in a dirty motel room. From the Morgan Freeman LOTR rip off introductory montage, the whole film is dumb and completely forgettable, apart from the occasional cool move in a fight, every single action moment is a blurry fast motion medium shot.. the failsafe of every director since Nolan decided to publicly showcase such laziness in Batman Begins.. it's pure laziness on every count, move the camera fast, add some crunchy sound design and BOOM, you have an action scene.. what's the best fight scene of the last decade? Old Boy and the Hammer, and there isn't a single cut in that, or any fast camera move, it's just good old fashioned choreography and stunt acting.. the only good or partly original part in the whole film is the sand soldier fight.. but even that is ultimately deemed moronic and pornographic, why doesn't the witch daughter use such powers or summon up similar creatures at any other point in the film? like you know.. say during the finale when all magic powers should have been used, at all times. But obviously the film-makers realised that would have put Conan at a big disadvantage, and caused too much of a headache for them to solve.. I know just move the camera around a lot, and make loads of quick edits and CGI blood splashes, it's the modern day equivalent of a shiny object for rednecks.
Even the DBOX programming was dumb and nonsensical. The film even had an expert thief that could pick a lock with a custom made device, called a key!! oh i wish i didn't have a limit of 1000 words.. i'd do a real Conan on this film and rip it to shreds. Yet again a film with great production value ruined by moronic film-makers that think guilty pleasure means no need for creativity, and yet another film permitted a stupid budget simply because the Conan name has brand recognition.
Conan lacks myth - it truly lacks that sense of myth and wonder that
created a whole new genre, and it lacks cinematic vision, it lacks what
makes film rather than TV, and while entertaining after a decade of
Xena and Game of Thrones we deserve more than this in our big budget
Casting is fine, plot is a little dull, action is half-way to OK - it's just that overall there is nothing to really put life into this - where is the wow! factor, the, yes this is film. Even if you're making a B movie it doesn't excuse it.
In the right hands and the right team this could be storytelling at its best, instead we get a film that thrives on the cliché of its genre. It may have lots of sorcery, but it truly lacks magic.
First of all, before I say anything about the movie I want people to
know a little bit about me. I went into this movie with an open mind
wanting to see it anyway despite the horrid reviews it's been getting
from critics. (I generally tend to ignore the critics especially for
movies that I personally think will be worth seeing in theaters) the
trailer looked pretty cool for this one, so I went in expecting at the
least an awesome super gory action flick. What I got was the total
opposite and a huge disappointment for me. The critics are right. Conan
the Barbarian is overall an absolutely terrible movie.
To be fair, the movie actually starts out with some promise showing us young Conan and a really brutal kick-ass action scene with young Conan in the beginning. After the beginning sequence though, the movie starts to fall apart rapidly. The dialog is extremely weak and uninspired. I kid you not, Conan probably says a maximum of forty words or less throughout the entire movie. Whoever wrote the script seemed like they just stopped trying and gave up after the promising beginning scenes.
Another thing that I found really disappointing was that Conan himself was just not brutal enough. Only for short moments here and there he did some barbarian like things but not at all on the level that you'd expect from a movie titled "Conan The Barbarian" The action scenes themselves were just not filmed well at all. It was filmed using very fast paced cuts and it was very confusing to keep up with what was happening on screen. The camera always seemed to be lagging behind the action, and just when it finally catches up with Conan to see what he's doing, the bad guy is already dead. Great.
The plot was a jumbled mess and the acting pretty much on every level, was completely horrendous. Personally I am a fan of Jason Momoa. After his performance as the savage Khal Drago on the hit show "Game of Thrones" I thought he would be absolutely perfect to portray Conan, but sadly he is very weak in this role and really adds nothing new or interesting to the character. One more thing to be mentioned is that the 3D in this movie is non-existent. (Yes I saw it in 3D and don't think I am bashing the movie just because the 3D was horrible) The sad truth is even if I saw the regular 2D film I would still think the same about it. It is just that bad of a movie.
I dare to say that even 10,000 BC was better than this movie. (And that movie was terrible) At least in that movie you could tell what was happening during the action scenes. I strongly felt the urge to warn people not to waste their hard earned money on this movie. Trust me you will thank me for saving you the money. But, if you are dead-set on seeing it for yourself anyway despite what I have to say DO NOT see it in 3D it really is just an extra waste of money. Think "Clash of The Titans" not one thing in the entire film is 3D except for the ending credits. Avoid this film at all costs. 1/5
I'm not going to get into the plot set-up and all that other stuff
which has already been prefaced to this movie's release a thousand
different ways. Just straight to the review ...
The entire introduction sequence at the beginning of this Conan was great, up until you see the Jason as the adult Conan. The child actor who played young Conan was broodier, and the sequence where he proves himself as a warrior was more dynamic and believable than most of the other action sequences in the movie. I really enjoyed that entire first portion of the movie, but it went down hill after that.
Jason Mamoa can be a really good Conan. He brought some new flare to the character, but I have to say that ultimately I'm split between him and Arnie, with a bit more leaning to Arnie's Conan. The director, and Jason himself, almost made this Conan rather "sun-shiney" and somewhat fluffy. They had all the sequences they needed to really get dark with him, but they kept it fairly light. With the exception of some mild nudity they really didn't take advantage of the "R" rating. With exception to that mild nudity much of this movie felt like a made-for-TV movie more so than something which should be in the theaters.
Plot ... bleh. It was a weak twist on the original movie's plot. Nothing special in any way, shape or form. In watching Conan go through the progression of the plot I felt like I was watching a video game play out where he was just maneuvering through the different level bosses of the game to his ultimate goal. To say the plot was formula is almost an insult to formula plots.
The CGI, especially in the scenics, was entirely too obvious and very light-hearted comic book-ish. I know there was a lot in this movie where they were drawing upon the great Frazetta artworks, but they missed the marks several times. At the end of the movie, as with many other contemporary special effects movies, I was missing the days of mechanical special effects and matte paintings as backdrops. CGI has destroyed a lot of movies over the years and this was another victim of the over-reliance that's been wrought by the movie industry.
The Studios NEED real people standing over their shoulders DURING production of what should be great movies, ESPECIALLY when there's already a fan base for the subject matter. They need people who aren't afraid to NOT be "Yes Men" and tell them straight up that something is stupid, or over-done, or under-done or just plain not right and let's start it over. The Studios don't have the genital fortitude to do this, so this is the kind of disappointment we have to live through 2 hours at a time throughout our lives. This movie could have been a beginning-of-summer blockbuster, but instead it's stuck in the "could-have-been" file.
Conan the Barbarian is born in war, a product of blood and steel. Thus
the film should be a visceral, violent portrayal of a warrior set
against the fantasy backdrop of Robert E. Howard's Hyboria. What
emerges on screen is a set of one dimensional characters placed in a
world that feels half heatedly brought to life.
The film has been accused of being like viewing a video game. I would disagree. The nature of video games, particularly those of the fantasy and RPG genres, is immersion. There is no immersion here. We flit from place to place in a lame attempt to show the vastness of the world through a mediocre CGI backdrop of a castle or slave camp or pirate city. None are ever fully realised before Conan jaunts off somewhere else. The violence itself is the most disappointing. Nispel manages to create fight scenes that lack the kinetic quality of a dance. The camera is misplaced, the editing focusing on the wrong points. You never feel the hits, the power of the blows or Conan's qualities as a warrior. It feels clumsy.
There are more grunts and warcries than lines of dialogue and those spoken feel like the actors are running them in rehearsal for the first time. There is no commitment to the lines so again the audience fails to immerse in their characters. McGowen in contrast overly plays the sorcerer.
Given this is a reboot, the film does not feel fresh, but instead feels dated. It's almost as though Nispel wanted it to feel like the 1982 version, but taking only the worst qualities and none of the charm. Conan reinforces the assertion of refraining from producing reboots where there is nothing original the writers or director bring to the table. Conan is a stale rehash that will offer no reward to its audience.
I've always been a fan not only of Robert E. Howard's fantasy stories
but also of the Marvel Comics or the 1982 film "Conan the Barbarian"
with Arnold Schwarzenegger. So when I heard of a new Conan I was most
interested. With today's budget and cgi they really could pull it off.
Oh Man I was wrong.
Where do I start as everything is wrong in this movie Words cannot adequately describe how terrible this movie is. It's that bad. However I have come to my senses to provide you with seven reasons why this film is bad.
Number 1 the plot is "shaky". Here is the plot summary in one sentence: Conan witness the destruction of his Tribe and the Death of his Father by an evil Warlord who search the pieces of an ancient mask that is supposed to resurrect his wife, an evil sorceress that could grant him the powers of a God OK??? Obviously a Conan film isn't built on a Tarkovskian scenario but with this Conan we reach an apogee in terms of bad writing. Writers Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer aren't fit for writing. The least they could have done was to read Robert E. Howard's literature and if as I suspect they aren't capable of reading more than 10 pages, I suggest looking at Marvel Comics who introduced a relatively lore-faithful version of Conan the Barbarian in 1970 written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith. In fact the total lack of understanding the character of Conan not only from the writers but also from Director Marcus Nispel and actor Jason Momoa is the main problem. I am not a Conan fanatic but if you put the word Conan somewhere in a movie title I guess as a Director you need to understand what is the essence of a Conan movie You owe it to your audience; you owe it to yourself
Number 2, the script is bad and as soon as Conan's Mother opens her mouth to name his son before she dies we know we are in for a treat of bad dialogs and overall silly script. What follows is ridicule one liners deliver with zero conviction from every protagonist.
Number 3, where are the sidekicks? In a Conan film good sidekicks are mandatory. I remember Subotai (Jerry Lopez) in the 1982 Conan. He was a cool, loyal, and courageous dude. Every fan of this film remembers the crucifixion scene when suddenly Subotai appears in the horizon to save the day. Valeria was also a very likable and an equally strong character, some sort of Valkyrie that impacted Conan's emotions. In this 2011 version female characters are filler. The dialog of the main female character consists in screaming "Conan" every time she is in danger. Moreover there are no charismatic sidekicks or even interesting other characters. The black pirate serves as a pretext for a black character but has the personality of a "playmobil"; the "Arabic" Thief is so common I don't even remember his name or face.
Number 4, a good villain should have depth Stephen Lang as Khalar Zym does not do the job. Sure there wasn't much to do with the poor script he had in hands and screaming "barbarian!!!" every 2 seconds of his screen time doesn't help. Plus Rose McGowan transformed by either plastic-surgery or bad cgi (couldn't really tell) as his witchy daughter Marique is so outrageously goth that you constantly wonder if you are in a Conan film or in a remake of the Crow. Net net all protagonists are badly written and played even Ron Perlman, as Conan's father, is wasted.
Number 5, there isn't any consistency between the scenes We watch Conan's Ship being attacked during the night, but the next scene of the battle for the Ship happens during the day We see the girl go mating with Conan in a rocky cave of what seems to be a cliff environment. In the next morning when she attempts to go back to the Ship she gets kidnapped in what appears to be a Forest. At this stage I kept wondering if the Director was a little bit "special" or if the film editor endured a lobotomy half way during the editing session. Now that I think about it it's probably both.
Number 6, they didn't hire a lead designer and that shows they should have. Costumes, armors, or even Architecture (by the way you can clearly see the use of models) don't fit the Conan universe and there isn't any vision or unity regarding the design of the film. As a result you don't have a feel that the story takes place in a possible ancient time with tangible ancient civilizations. So basically the production recycled costumes from the last 10 sand & sandals films and the result is catastrophic.
Number 7, they didn't hire a composer and that shows too. I understand that not everyone can be Basil Poledouris the composer of the haunting score from the 1982 Conan but in this 2011 Conan I was forgetting the music as I was watching the film this is a premiere to me.
As a conclusion there is close to nothing that is enjoyable in this film. There is no sense of adventure that makes a heroic fantasy film worth it. There is no sense of progression that makes a revenge plot efficacious. There is no sense of danger that makes an action film breathtaking. There is no sense of feasibility that makes a film epic. There is no adequate script that makes characters believable and there is no musical soundtrack that draws you into the Journey. Give me 45millions dollars (half of the amount spent on this mockery) and some of the Conan fans from IMDb and we will probably do a better film
I am struggling to actually review this movie, not because of its weak story-line or because of its total lack of imagination, or even because of its gratuitous violence (most of which is hidden), but because the one thing that was missing was a lighting engineer. Yes folks, this is an object lesson in how to make a low budget blockbuster movie, though how much money was actually saved by shooting seventy-five percent of the film in darkness I don't know. However the other cost saving was certainly well designed, a few decent cameramen who could actually keep the shot in focus would have spoiled the whole thing for me. Out of focus darkness was entertaining for the first ten minutes, after that it became irritating, the big fight scene in the last ten minutes of the film is lost completely but then that will have saved on the cost of giving the monster too much detail, rather than leaving it a a piece of wet hose pipe. What a waste of time and money, not the production companies, but mine, I can sit in the dark with some flickering lights at home for free. There was one decent fight scene in the film about half way through, but it was certainly not worth the ticket price. One of the worst and most irritating films I have seen for a long time.
Well, in general I'm not this master for writing reviews or anything
else. But in general, I do agree with 95% of IMDb ratings, besides some
special cases. And this is one of them.
Seriously, if we put away the old Conan the Barbarian Movie with Arnie. This movie offers You "A grade" quality of picture, "A- grade" quality of camera angles "B grade" quality of story composition "B grade" quality of actor performance and "A- grade" of sound/music quality. It's not that bad as a movie for DVD/BD @ your home, right? And frankly, many TV movies have much, much higher vote rating as Conan.
For me, I really enjoyed some fights in the movie, I liked how actors were masked up, also enjoyed Conan as a kid and as an adult. As I say, these guys didn't put out any blockbuster performance to Your screen but seriously, it wasn't that bad [5/10] all in all. It really deserves solid 6/10 from a random viewer and from a fan of medieval times and fantasy good 7/10.
Though, this is only my opinion and I fully respect the opinions of whole IMDb community...
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