Conan The Barbarian (2011) – DVD – 5 GPPs
Straight to the point: Wasn’t expecting much, didn’t get much 5GPPs
You have to understand that when it comes to me and films, I don’t look too deeply into them. I don’t analyse every camera angle, character and plot line or get annoyed because “in real life that explosion would have killed them all, and that sort of apple wouldn’t have grown in such a climate”; I just don’t see the point. For me (and this is in general), if I like something I like it, as simple as that. (it doesn’t take much to get me liking something) Unfortunately Conan still failed at this relatively easy task.
The Acting was questionable, the lines cheesy and the blood and gore gratuitous… GREAT! Pre requisites for any amazing fantasy /action film, what’s my problem? Well it was none of the above. How much of a hypocrite would I, or anyone for that matter, be to moan about bad acting, blood and cheese when most of us love the original Arny flick? People who go into films like “Conan the Barbarian” and expect Shakespearian brilliance need a slap upside the head. They either misunderstand what action films are all about: blood, gore, cheesy one liners, sex and explosions or they are just the type of critic who most people hate; being critical for critical’s sake… or a knob in layman’s terms.
No, none of these factors ruined the film for me, though some of the dialogue was particularly badly delivered. What really numbed the whole affair was the story line, if you can call it that. It was weak at best and none existent at worst. Something that should have been obvious to me by looking at the director’s (Nispel) previous filmography: Friday the 13th and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre; both remakes and not very good ones at that.
He had a perfect template to work with (in the form of the older film) but bar a few nods here and there it was nothing like the original, which, in most instances would have reviewers clambering to praise a piece of innovation; it wasn’t. Sure it had some epic scenes and some cool sword fights, percolated with boob shots and a “love scene” but it didn’t flow well, seemed really dumbed down and was just action by numbers.
This generally wouldn’t have bothered me, had the backing story been gripping in some way, shape or form but it wasn’t. Rushed and uninspired is all I can say. It’s not as if you have to give fans of these sorts of films much, but Nispel couldn’t even give us that and through boredom, or annoyance at another classic being butchered, I started to find fault in places I would never have found fault before.
The acting started to grate on me, the boobs’ scenes, seemed unnecessary (what am I saying!?)And the gore just gushed at the mere touch. Momoa (Game of Thrones, SG: Atlantis and Baywatch; was the Hoffs son), who I think will actually make quite a good action hero in the future and I liked as Khal Drogo in Game of Thones, was given nothing to work with script wise and what he was given came across as dry and emotionless. His nemesis, Zym played by Stephen Lang (Avatar) equally is cursed with below average lines and poor execution, winning the ‘stating the obvious’ award for his line “I’m going to kill you with your fathers sword” when fighting with Conan’s fathers sword…No shit Sherlock.
It would be too easy to blame Momoa and Lang alone for their performances and in their defence you just have to watch some of their other material to see that they are capable of much better. Granted it’s not Oscar winning but it is a damn sight better than this; so what happened? I can only come to one conclusion: poor direction and poor scripting. A worker can only do the best with the tools he is given and if an actor is given bad direction and mediocre lines he will look just as shit as a miner who is given a tooth pick instead of drill.
All in all I lay my disinterest and nit-picking of this film at the feet of the director. He had the template, the history, the stories and could have made something great. Instead he made something half arsed and uninspiring.
I will not go as far as to say that the 2011 Conan was bad, I just can’t go as far as saying it was good either. In the end it left me felling, well, “meh” when it should have left me wanting to let my long hair down, dawn a mighty sword and go and rescue scantly clad maidens from evil megalomaniacs.
Missed out on something special here, disappointed.
By Matt Geary