Thursday, August 25, 2011

Conan the Barbarian [2011]

Director: Marcus Nispel
Cast: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan ♥, Ron Perlman, Leo Howard
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Rating: Teen
Comment: "More action sequences than you can shake a sword at, so much that it couldn't fit any three-dimensional characters in there..."


Born in the midst of a battle, Conan (Jason Momoa and Leo Howard) of the Cimmeria tribe has all the makings of an epic warrior. He proves himself to be a very formidable fighter even at young age, however before he could properly be trained into a full-fledged Cimmerian warrior, tragedy strikes and his entire village is razed down by warlord Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), leaving Conan as the lone survivor of his tribe. Conan then spend many years of his life pillaging and plundering before crossing paths with the man who will lead him back to the warlord who took everything away from him.

What to Expect
1. A fuckload of action
2. Jason Momoa looking awesome in every frame
3. Censorship (Malaysia)
4. Claustrophobic camerawork at times 
What NOT to Expect
1. Three-dimensional characters
2. To fully live up to its potential
3. An amazing script

After almost four months of anticipation, Conan the Barbarian is finally here! Sadly I couldn't really say it was well worth the wait, but it definitely was everything I predicted it would be. So yeah, while it was indeed a bit of a letdown, the movie still managed to incite the twelve-year-old action movie fanboy in me.

But here's the thing, the movie heightened your expectations in the beginning simply by having Morgan Freeman doing the narration, but then it proceeded with lowering it just in case you were anticipating a movie as epic as Morgan Freeman's baritone. How so? Well, just watch that opening scene with Conan's mother giving birth via short sword Cesarean.

It was pretty mind-numbing, but nevertheless it did a good enough job in setting the tone and mood for the next hundred minute to come.

So what kind of movie did it turn out to be? Well, it was pretty much as advertised, although with a fuckload more of sword-swinging action than you could possibly have anticipated. Not necessarily a bad thing because they didn't call this movie Conan the Barbarian for no reason (Conan the Politician would have been a bore, all talk and no action). What actually made it all slightly frustrating was how claustrophobic the camerawork can be at certain times. The camera often got up close and personal which translates to you not being able to enjoy some of the action sequences.

Some, not all.

The action is good, believe me. The main problem here is actually the one-dimensional characters. Yeap, in this Conan universe, you can judge a book by its cover. Characterisations in this movie only went as far as supporting characters giving verbal descriptions of another character, without the said character actually demonstrating any of it.

But then comes the saving grace of it all, and that is having beefcake Jason Momoa as the title character. He did a great job considering the material given to him and without a doubt the most badass Conan ever! In fact, I think it wouldn't be too much to say that whatever flaws tearing this movie apart, Momoa here held it all together long enough for you to feel curious about seeing it until the end.

In other words, he's hot. So hot in fact, I think he's the only one who could actually get laid using what I think is the worst pick-up line in movie history. I won't give away what it is, but you'll know it when you hear it.

Oh by the way, to my fellow Malaysians, I'm delighted to inform you that the censorship board didn't mercilessly butcher this movie. Despite nineteen minutes' worth of censorship, they didn't do things like cut an entire scene just because there was a bare-breasted lady in the background. Of course, I would prefer for them to leave everything intact, but this is the land of Holier-than-thous after all, where you don't get what you pay for.

Should you go see it?
Hrm... This is difficult. If I'm being objective I would say that it wouldn't hurt to wait for the DVD, or maybe even wait for it to screen on Star Movies or HBO. But if you ask me, my verdict is the same as the Mamümeter; Despite its shortcomings, I thoroughly enjoyed it, being a lifelong fan of action and testosterone-fuelled movies. The only problem with this one is that it could have been great, but didn't really rise above the B-movie realm.

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