The tale of Conan the Cimmerian and his adventures across the continent of Hyboria on a quest to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his village.
In the spirit of remakes, it’s always good when one comes along that really ups the anty for the franchise. I remember clearly the day when Arnold Schwarzenegger brought his version of Conan to the big screen. It was a pretty cool day for comic book fans and we ended up really liking his entry into the “barbarian to watch out for”.. Though that was 1982, and things have changed quite a bit.
Our newer generation and audiences really require a certain combination of factors to win them over, that sometimes require a remake for “that reason” alone. The old Conan wasn’t gonna hold up to this new generation of viewers. So we fast forward to 2011. Marcus Nispel is now at the directing helm and Jason Momoa is taking on the famed barbarian role. Cimmeria was never so happy.
In this 2 hour movie, we get the upgraded version. The violent, the uncompassionate, the era of barbarians and warlords……and so much more. Yes, this is not a kid’s film. That was apparent right within the first 5 minutes when little Conan comes back carrying the heads of his enemies. Conan requires a big dude. A strong dude that looks like he “could” be a barbarian. Jason Momoa fits that bill nicely and in my opinion instantly wins over crowds with his Cimmerian swagger. The film feels closer to the books of Robert E. Howard. These books which range over several editions were not about kindness and fairy tale adventures. They were brutal, hard and written about a world that featured rough men with rough ideas. It was magic, sorcery, strange oddities and alot of far away kingdoms that housed denizens from a fantastic world.
Conan, who is “born of blood rather than milk”, slides comfortably into his role pretty early on. He’s a warrior at heart raised by an even greater warrior, his father Corin (Ron Perlman). Corin is busy training the younger ones about the art of defending themselves. Though reality hits when a band of warrior troupes invade and burn down the village killing off several from the Cimmerian tribe. Leading the pack is a warrior (Stephen Lang) with a god complex that is in search of the final piece to a magical mask he possesses. This mask can raise his deceased wife from the grave helping him to become the ultimate ruler. He goes by the name of Khalar Zym and is quite a competitor even for Conan’s standards.
Though evil comes in small doses in which his daughter Marique (Rose McGowan) seems to be right at home with. She holds a bit of magic herself influenced by a mother sorceress who was executed at an early age.
As we progress into the Conan Adventure it is Marique who seems to step up to the more diabolical end of the villain spectrum. If her weird gothy punk getup doesn’t do the trick then maybe her wolverine claws will.
Conan develops a love interest in a girl named Tamara (Rachel Nichols) who happens to possess the pure blood needed to fulfill the mask incantations. Conan takes to her pretty quickly as well as he becomes involved with her in his quest to avenge his father.
Now in all, the Conan film keeps its standard pretty high with delivering a quality adult film. Even the women in several scenes are kept bare-breasted and humble providing service to the men they serve. It’s not that they are stereotyped, but more relevant to the era of the men and standards of this time. A few though make for pretty good warriors which divides the stereotype into a varied class of females.
Marcus Nispel and company have really put some thought into this production. I felt that they did their homework and took note of what reviews had to say about like-films in the past. We get a nice helping of CGI, but not too much. We get a confrontation that doesn’t end within 5 minutes. We get a little taste of “The Mummy” but again not too much to seed material for reviewers to criticize. It’s all pretty well thought out and presented as an extreme action adventure film.
I will say that, I won’t give away the ending but it’s nice that they didn’t hit all the cliques. They could of gone a few different directions, but I was glad they chose the one that they ended up with. Overall Conan the Barbarian is a highly entertaining action fantasy adventure that hits all its marks. Jason Momoa is perfect in his Conan persona of which we hope to see more of in potential sequels. No Camero from Arnold, but that ok. Arnold belonged to the 80s, Jason is the man for 2011.
Conan the Barbarian (2011)