Dan Mancini wrote:Conan the Barbarian (2011)
I'm too tainted by nostalgia to say that it's better than Milius' movie, but it's undoubtedly a closer adaptation of Robert E. Howard's writings. Is Momoa a better Conan than Schwarzenegger? No doubt about it. There are shots where he looks like a Frazetta painting brought to life. He handles the dialogue just fine (people complaining that the movie sounds too "modern" are just wrong-footed by the fact that the actors aren't throwing around bad British accents, but British accents are no less incongruous in the Hyborian age than American accents, so who cares?). And his fighting is pure awesome. There's nothing martial artsy about whatsoever. It's raw, brutal, and not at all constrained by fairness or decency.
The thing I was most worried about going in was that the flick would be a nightmare of bad CGI, but Marcus Nispel uses technology well throughout (mostly). There are CG enhancements to traditional shots, for sure, but they're mostly subtle and believable. More than anything, he uses CG to do what it does best: replace old school matte paintings. He does a good job of keeping it out of the action scenes. The scene in which Conan fights the sand dudes? The transitions where they form from or collapse back into sand are CGI (as you'd expect), but during the actual fighting it's all stunt men in make-up, as it should be.
Is the movie flawed? Definitely. There are more than a few clunky moments (Conan's birth chief among them). I wish they hadn't lifted the revenge plotline from Milius' movie. And there's an entire action set piece that's essentially a non sequitur (Conan and another dude spend 10 minutes breaking into the bad guy's castle, only to watch him parading away outside the castle walls). Also, as much as Ron Perlman makes a fantastic barbarian chieftain (and he does), the entire beginning of the movie is redonkulous in how fervently it tries to establish young Conan's badass credentials. The whole thing borders on self-parody until the switch to Momoa as Conan.
If you're a Conan fan, you should dig it. Just don't go in expecting an action opus on the level of Ironclad or 13 Assassins.
J.M. Vargas wrote:TWISTER (1996) on HD-DVD. The perfect movie to watch overnight while Hurricane Irene was pounding outside the window of my NYC studio apartment.
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