Some Couple reviews Conan the Barbarian
Glenn: We're back with a new couple review, this time in "3-D!" I offered to go see a rom-com or some period drama if that'd be more to Kik's liking, but then she heard that Khal Drogo (I mean Jason Momoa) was spending a considerable amount of time shirtless in a current film, and so it was decided, we would spend a bloody good evening watching the new Conan the Barbarian, Crom be praised.
Kik: Well, I really liked Game of Thrones, and I REALLY liked Momoa (as Khal Drogo) in that. Sorry sweetie, but I kinda want to be his Khaleese.
Glenn: I just like movies with swords and blood and boobies... which this movie provided "IN 3-D!"
Kik: Too bad your banter is still two-dimmensional.
Glenn: Hush, or I'll Netflix up some of your Khal's old Baywatch episodes.
Anyway, about the movie, it's directed by Marcus Nispel (a music video director) and written by the folks who brought us Sahara ... soooo aside from the aforementioned sword fights, blood and boobies, I was fully prepared to have everything else about this movie suck.
Kik: Well for me, it was a better movie than I thought it would be. It kept me entertained throughout, and I honestly don't think Momoa wore a single shirt the whole time!
Glenn: I'll grudgenly admit that I found it entertaining too, though I'll hoist the crumudgen flag and claim right now that this movie is infereior to the original Conan the Barbarian (1982) which featured the late, great Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Kik: Um, the Governator's not dead.
Glenn: Well, maybe not physically dead. But I'm fairly certain Maria Schriver's divorce attorneys had Arnold's testicles forcibly removed and crushed. So the Arnold we see in the two Conan movies, definitely no longer exists.
Kik: I never saw the original, so I couldn't care which one is best. The modern one at least made good use of 3-D filming, I thought. Just as a caveat, I'll admit that the only thing I have to compare it to is Step Up 3-D which sucked hard. But in this film, they did a lot with using the 3-D to add real depth to the shots.
Glenn: Yes, much better use of 3-D here than in Step Up.
I'll still nit-pick a tiny bit on scenes where they went overboard though. There's an over-the-shoulder scene, where the actor's shoulders seemed to be jutting out towards the audience to a comical degree. There's a bit at the end where they just seemed to get indulgent, and had Conan's father's sword just standing in the foreground forever. Yes, yes, we all see the sword is 'in front' of Conan. Very nice, now please get on with the show. Also, in some of the larger scenes, ad the 3-D camera pans back for a panoramic shot, the 3-D effect somehow cheapened some of those CGI generated environments. It was like trying to enforce artificial perspective on those environments suddenly turned them into school diorama scenes.
Even the shots that seemed to work with the 3-D, like the witch Marique (played without eyebrows by Rose McGowan) pointing her father's troops into battle for instance, seemed like they were conceived specifically for the 3-D effect. With seemingly more and more movies being shot in 3-D (The Great Gatsby?!?) I worry about a split in the medium, where some movies will simply have to be seen in 3-D. That'd mean bigger ticket prices at theaters, and a whole new set of equipment for cinema-lovers to buy for their home theaters. Price of progress I guess.
Kik: Boring! Back to the action. I thought the fight scenes were pretty amazing. Even kid-Conan was bad ass. He even seemed to shock his barbarian father (played by Ron Perlman), with his bad-assery.
Glenn: Agreed. The older movies never spent so much time showing the audience exactly how Conan became the man he did. The young Conan fight scene was brutally good.
But there's a downside to showing so much of Conan's origin, as a member of the Cimmerian barbarian tribe though. The whole tribe looks like early northern-europeans (which fits with the Robert Howard novel source material) ... cept for Conan. Momoa is Hawaiian in real life, and though I thought he did an excellent job looking like a studly barbarian, he definitely did not look like any son of Ron Perlman (or Hellboy for that matter).
Kik: True. Also, Perlman, with all that hair, looked a bit like Harry and the Hendersons,
Glenn: Alright, so Conan's bad-ass status is accomplished early on. Then the innevitable village-destroyed-loved-ones-killed event occures, courtesy of the big bad guy in this movie, known as Khalar Zym, played by the actor Stephen Lang.
Kik: I can't help but notice his character's name "Khalar," practically proclaiming himself "Khal." No wonder Khal Drogo has such a beef with him.
I loved that first fight scene between Zym and Conan. Exciting.
Glenn: I also agree with that. The first fight between those two was, for me, the best in the movie. Those sand warriors were awesome. Weird, frightening, and savage - all befitting beasties in the world of Hyboria. In comparison, the final sword fight left me a bit disappointed. Part of the problem was the lighting. The 3-D glasses dim things to begin with, so when there's a particularly dark scene, it gets hard to follow the action.
How about when the action wasn't happening? What did you think about the other characters, and the dialogue?
Kik: I didn't think much of either. The character's with the exception of witchy Rose (McGowan) were very memorable. The leading lady (Rachel Nichols) didn't impress either. She's supposed to be this kinda-cool warrior monk, but then in the very next scene all she does is stand around and scream for Conan. A lot of my problem with her might do with the script though. It's almost like the writers started off with more of a "me Tarzan, you Jane," thing going on between the two of them, then decided to change gears and make Conan more of the classic, suave hero who can't be tied down to any one woman, which means turning her into a two-dimensional character as well. That last scene they have together is so stereotypically chauvinistic. Oh, and what the hell was that line he used to get her in bed? "I live, I love, I slay, I am content," Seriously?
Glenn: Totally should have used that line on you on our first date. Anyway, at first I totally agreed with you on that last point. I thought it was just a lame-0 version of the original movie's most famous line. Conan is asked what is best in life. He answers: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
But after a little research, it turns out that even though the Momoa line comes off as cheesy in the movie, it actually does have it's basis in the source material. Here's the bit it comes from, out of the Conan novel, Queen of the Black Coast:
Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.
Kik: Deep yo. But just so we're being honest, the thing we both liked most about this movie was all the toplessness.
Glenn: Um, yes.
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