Monday, 5 December 2011

Conan the Barbarian the Real Cimmerian - Review

Although I'm not hugely familiar with Robert E. Howard's 1932 series let it be said I like Conan, enjoyed the Marvel comics and the two tone mixed Schwarzenegger portrayal. I'm a casual fan but once again I prove my geek-worth with a model of Conan sitting on his thrown with his troubled brow in my office, "but that is another story."

In any case, with the home release due let me tell you of the days of high adventure, or my thoughts on the recent incarnation.

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Conan the Cimmerian is on a quest to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his village.

Conan the Barbarian is a violent bloody R rated sword and sorcery adventure that unfortunately carries the weight of the likes of Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans and Pirates of the Caribbean.

The story opens with a tantalising origin story that equals the 1982 version, however, without drawing comparisons to Arnold Schwarzenegger's successful outing even though Marcus Nispel's incarnation is action packed, graphic and gory it's too glossy which takes the much needed edge, rawness and grounded grittiness away.

Jason Momoa's Conan is very likable, talkative and agile. However, Stephen Lang as Khalar Zym sadly falls into hammy stereotype antagonist territory, reminiscent of his role in Avatar. For whatever reason the striking and physical Rachel Nichols looks uncomfortable as damsel Tamara. Rose McGowan's Marique has more depth to her character giving some needed credence but this is counter balanced by 'hired' looking supporting cast lacking any authenticity. Ron Perlman is on form in a lengthy cameo as Conan's father. Amusingly UK Bottom's Spudgun Steven O'Donnell puts in an appearance.

There's an epic score and great costumes, that said as the running time passes the more derivative Conan becomes, amongst the disjointed flash backs the script has an abundance of clich├ęs and stereotypes which stomps on the strong opening of Conan's youth - where Leo Howard notably plays the young Barbarian.

The sets, effects and landscapes are wonderfully shot and executed, but feeling is more He-man than Conan. For all the special effects, less would be more with the likes of the old school horse carriage chase more exciting and fulfilling than the grand CGI set pieces.

Overall it's a strong action adventure but too stylised lacking the foreboding heaviness that Conan requires to be fully realised. I live, I love, I slay, and I am content - Sort of.

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