Over the last week, I've been hearing that the new Conan the Barbarian is not just a bad movie or crappy end-of-the-summer blockbuster, but an actual stain on the name of Robert E. Howard (author of the original Conan stories) and an offense to filmgoers everywhere. Now, I've been known to drop hyperbole bombs to and sometimes fro, but I've got to say, while Conan the Barbarian is not a freckle on the original Conan the Barbarian's undercarriage, it's streets ahead of Conan the Destroyer (sorry, Grace Jones and a PG rating make The Destroyer dead to me). Conan is a badass for the first two-thirds of its running time, but then turns into yawns.
Easily the best thing about the new Conan is Jason Momoa (who owned in Game of Thrones) since he's much closer to Howard's vision of Conan than Arnold was. I was raised on Howard's books and I never forgot how Conan was described as moving like a panther, whereas Arnie moved like a bull crossbred with an Austrian bodybuilder. Momoa not only moves like a Panther, he moves like the whole jungle is in his bones. There is no other modern actor who could have pulled off this role and, if you don't believe me, I'll whip out some more nerd knowledge bombs (after I put away my hyperbole bombs) and take you all out with me.
As good as Momoa is, everyone else is not. Rose McGowan gives the worst performance of her career (since the last movie she was in) and the always-welcome Ron Perlman tries with what he's given, but ultimately succumbs to his overbearing wig and beard. I'm not sure that the actors are to blame, as the script is a guilty pleasure at best and gleefully retarded (I'm taking that word back) at worst.
Yeah, the best action is in the first 15 minutes and the last half an hour has the most boring set pieces ever (seriously, they're running through a slowly crumbling temple forever) but I was entertained and felt like not punching anyone when it was over, so I can call that a mild success in the under stuffed arena of movies about barbarians. It's not a cinematic travesty of Pearl Harbor proportions (the movie, not December 7, 1941), but it's also pretty bad in a pulpy kind of way. Ignore the hyperbole and you might actually have some fun.
Conan the Barbarian
Starring Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Rachel Nichols, Ron Perlman and Rose (what's my face doing?) McGowan.
Directed by Marcus Nispel