Sunday, July 15, 2012

Conan the Barbarian (2011) - Review

Just by looking at the poster for this film, you can tell it's going to be a generic action movie.  And surprise, surprise, that's pretty much what it is.  Having not seen the Arnold Conan (as of this review), I can't really compare the 80s film to this one.  I also haven't (and probably never will) read the books, but on its own, this is a pretty dull film.  It just can't help but get lost in a sea of bland and uninspired remakes.

There are a few kinds of action movies, and it's pretty obvious that the hyper-stylized fantasy subgenre has really taken off since 300.  There's no doubt that 300 is an awful movie, but it certainly has inspired legions of ultra-violent and vapid knockoffs such as Immortals, Centurion and this.  While there might be a little more to this than the others, they all have one thing in common:  they're only interested in delivering stupid action scenes for stupid people, rather than developing any characters beyond their one stock trait or telling an interesting story.

The biggest problem with this is that it's boring.  You've seen this movie.  You've seen it a hundred times.  It's a classic revenge flick with a medieval fantasy backdrop.  That's about it.  Admittedly, there are a couple cool set pieces, but that's not enough to save it from lackluster acting and a pitifully simple and lifeless script.  I get that Conan is meant to be this strong and quiet type, but he's a frightfully dull character.  Arnold Schwarzenegger has an undeniable charisma that pervades even his bad movies, but Jason Momoa is just death.  Rose McGowan gives the most entertaining performance in the film, and not really in a good way.

Factor in a bland, 'heard it before' story consisting of 'bad guy has all but one piece of ancient artifact and wants the last one to become supremely powerful', and you've got a recipe for an incredibly boring movie.  It's not so much bad as it is ordinary.  Nothing really stands out, and that's one of the worst things that can happen to your big action movie.  I'd say just go ahead and stick with the original or the books.  Surely they're better than this.

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