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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Conan The Barbarian

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  2_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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 Conan The Barbarian

Conan the Barber would have been more interesting.  Conan the Barbiturate would have been more precise.  This disappointing "remake" is unsatisfying on nearly every level, except for the way it looks.

They got that right.

Conan (Jason Momoa) couldn’t be more to the blueprint created by Barry Windsor-Smith.  Mythical lands have a CGI grandeur that brings the Robert E. Howard locations to “look” if not life.  There’s even an opening narration by Morgan Freeman.  What’s not to like?

Plenty, as it turns out.   I am puzzled along with thousands of movie goers as to how a film that’s made up of at least 90% action could be so incredibly boring.

The story contains the age old yadda-yadda of a quest to find and stop a villain who intends to bring the components of an evil, power-filled mask together, in conjunction with finding a pureblood female whose sacrifice will empower whoever wears the mask.

Conan (Leo Howard) is only a boy, albeit a literal headhunter already, when Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) invades his town of Cimmeria in search of the final piece of the Mask of Acheron.  Zym is accompanied by his witch-daughter Marique (Rose McGowan) and a horde of facially challenged henchmen.

Conan’s father Corin (Ron Perlman) is killed by Zym as Conan watches.  The rest of Cimmeria is cruelly dispatched by Zym’s ugly posse, leaving sole survivor Conan to seek revenge years later, when he is portrayed by Jason Momoa and has more cleavage than the topless slave girls he frees on his quest for revenge on Zym.

The pureblood Tamara (Rachel Nichols) somehow falls into Conan’s rough but protective hands first, and the hunt is on, complete with battles at every turn.  In one of the film’s more interesting sequences Conan battles against sand warriors that turn into dry explosions of dust with a blow from his mighty forged sword.  He’s fond of holding it up and giving a thunderous yell of conquest.  Good thing, too, because it might yank you back into consciousness.

Conan hunts Zym for revenge; Zym and Marique hunt Tamara for her ability to fuel the mask with her blood, which will in turn resurrect Zym’s wife, a witch who was burned many years before.  Marique has inherited her mother’s sorcery, but Zym wants the power that the mask will bring AND his wife back.

Marique is dismayed to find that she cannot seduce her father into wanting HER more than her mother.  We however are not dismayed to find out how dysfunctional this little murderous family is.  Meanwhile Conan and Tamara prove that “pureblood” does not have to mean virgin.

Steel is everywhere, in swords, chains, a sharp-nailed metal glove that Marique wields to taste the blood of her victims.  Action sequences are so plentiful that they threaten to become invisible.  One can glaze over like a baked ham from the incessant, fast-paced motion of the combatants.  Too much action and noise tends to make one simply want to get through the continual “I hit you, you hit me; I got you, you got me back” drum roll no matter how well it is choreographed.

The 3D is not necessary here, especially since it showcases such one-dimensional characters.  There’s no connection to either good guy or bad, and Conan is not especially sympathetic.  He’s not above cruelty and torture; yes, he IS a barbarian, but you are supposed to want to root for him

Jason Momoa looks every bit the part of Conan but the illusion is ruined with silly dialogue.  He can maneuver his way around a bloody conflict, but can’t seem to make you care about it.  Ron Perlman is always good for gravitas and Corin’s massive dreadlocked ‘do is one of the reasons.  Stephen Lang should attempt a role against type once in a while.  Too many warriors – ancient and futuristic have made his face an almost stereotypical prototype of “villain.”

Rose McGowan’s Marique is outrageous and interesting to look at, but like all of the other characters, shows no depth other than the abyss everyone’s threatened with by film’s end.  Rachel Nichols’ Tamara is anachronistically out of place by makeup, hairstyle, and frequent girly screams when danger pounces.

Director Marcus Nispel whose remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th would make one think he’s the right guy for this “reimagining” delivers a product that looks good but falls flat in almost every other way. The film has a fratboy sensibility, devoid of nobility or epic scope,   A trio of screenwriters pen a script that’s mostly action and they still miss the mark?

One of Conan’s screams would be appropriate right about now.

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