Season Of The Witch", but growing up with the likes of Arnie and his wicked big blade in the first two "Conan" films made this latest tale of the Cimmerian and his blood-lust somewhat of a must see for me. That's how I ended up in the theaters today with my iced tea prepping myself for the onslaught of swords, necromancy, and tough guys in fur. This 2011 vision of the long time cult hero can be summed up by one line uttered by Conan in the film that is paraphrased with: I live, I love, I slay, and I am content. That shit is dead on for what this film is. Over an hour and a half of pure violence, sex, more violence, and a sense that this is what it should be. This focus on making a big budget B movie certainly sells the film, even if it isn't great by any means.
Conan (Momoa) watched his father (Perlman) perish at the hands of a wicked warrior king Zhym (Lang) as a child. Now 20 years down the road, with 200 more pounds of muscle and an attitude to match, Conan is seeking his vengeance on this evil warlord who happens to be hell bent on becoming a god with a special bone crown the blood of a pure blood woman (Nichols). Conan finds himself on a quest not only to garner his vengeance, but to save the entire world from darkness and necromancy.
What can I say, but I'm a sucker for those cheesy over the top cult films being released nowadays. "Conan" struck a chord with me. I must also say I was stoked to see Marcus Nispel's name attached to the film. The guy does cult remakes well ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Friday The 13th" for starters) and his focus for this film was dead on. We're not talking character study with atmosphere and dialogue driven plot...we have fucking swords! And blood! And heads flying! And sand monsters! And tentacles! And awesome scenery! With bones! And a cave that looks like a screaming skull! For all intensive purposes I believe that this film was only 10% dialogue, characters, and plot. 90% of the film was violence in all of its barbaric glory. Good ratio for a "Conan" film if you ask me. We get all kinds of awesome action including but not limited to: a carriage chase complete with exploding wooden carriage, oil fires, exploding sand people fights on ruins, pirate ship fights, sieges on towns, sword fights (a plenty), fist fights, and to top it off - hurling a man to death on a catapult. I'll say Nispel did well with is focuses.
With all those exclamation marks aside, "Conan" isn't a great film. Momoa isn't a great actor by any means and lacks some of the smarm and intensity that Arnie brought to the role and the characters and plot have so many holes in them that Michael Bay would be proud. Why does the leading lady Tamara like Conan? He's an ass and has little for redeeming qualities. Yet she does and gives us quite the thin romantic sub plot used as "character development" for the film.. Really though, I wasn't expecting an epic film mounted on symbolism and parallel thinking. Quite frankly, the action, blood, muscles, and nudity cover up the plot holes quite nicely with thrills and badassery.
If you are looking for a great film with thought provoking tales of woe and imagination, "Conan" ain't it. It has some surprisingly solid moments (the acting for the villains is splendid, particularly towards creepy witch daughter lady and the father/son relationship is built nicely in the beginning), but the film is there to entertain with all of its vigor. Which it does like the efficient slice of Conan's big ass blade. Take it for what it is as a big budget B movie and enjoy it for its gratuity in excess.
Written By Matt Reifschneider