Conan The Barbarian
Having witnessed the brutal deaths of his father and his people as a young child, Conan the Cimmerian journeys across the mythical land of Hyboria leaving no stone unturned as he searches for the man who led the attack on his village. Conan soon crosses paths with a strange female monk, one who just so happens to be being perused by the enemy he’s been so desperate to find.
I know a lot of big films have come and gone this summer, but the two flicks hitting theatres this week were the ones I’ve had my eye on and have silently been rooting for, those being the remakes of CONAN THE BARBARIAN and FRIGHT NIGHT. I hit up Conan first and let me tell you, it was love at first sight. I’d been lucky enough to steal a look at an early draft of the script and one of the best things about it was the graphically violent, yet forcefully powerful opening scene with Conan’s pregnant mother. I won’t ruin it for you but I’ll say this, it unmistakably gets the point across as it sets the tone of the film. Conan is a dark, brutal, unforgiving and unrelenting symphony of violence that would make Crom himself stand up and roar.
Let me first say that I’m a huge fan of the original Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan flick (it’s still one of my favorite films to this day). CONAN THE DESTROYER and RED SONJA, not so much. That said, all three of these films are flawless examples of eighties lore, loved and cherished by nearly all who grew up in this era. Now, I don’t love the first Conan film for the acting, the fight scenes or all the campy amounts of cheese found therein, I love it because of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The eighties were an iconic time and Schwarzenegger was one of those guys you looked up to and wanted to be, pure and simple. Now Arnold had the physique, he looked the part of a barbarian and his broken English certainly helped complete the picture, but beyond that there was some nudity, some violence and some cool bad guys (who didn’t love Thulsa Doom) and of course my personal favorite detail, the riddle of steel. Yes, there were enough interesting bits found in the original to carry a tune but no film ever truly did the character any justice…until now.
Jason Momoa breathed a magic into this character that I didn’t think was even possible. No offense to Arnold but I’m afraid as of this moment, Jason Momoa IS Conan and I sincerely hope it stays that way. You’re rooting for him from day one as a kid, which I’ll also add was the best coming of age character sequence I’ve ever seen, but that’s just the beginning. Momoa captures all the fire and intensity inherent to not just Conan himself, but a seasoned warrior as well. The sword fighting is the other aspect of the film that really sold me. I hate seeing actors fluff their way through fighting scenes, be it them trying to seem like they know martial arts or appear as though they know how to fight with weapons. If you know what you’re doing it shows…just as clearly as it does when you don’t. Momoa demonstrated some of these moves in this season of ‘Game of Thrones’, but he saved the best for last, wielding Conan’s sword like it was an extension of his arm. The way it should be.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN was everything a Conan led fantasy adventure should be. There’s lots of swordplay, monsters, interesting villains (Rose McGowan creeped me out, but Stephen Lang brought it) and it’s all tied together by an original storyline rather than a straight out rehash of the original film. I’ve never been a big fan of remakes but when you redo a film in such a way that you keep the heart of the story as you explore new directions, giving the audience a fresh take on something they know, you may well strike gold rather than crap out. Conan is pure gold, no mistakes about it. I did however, miss the riddle of steel aspect of the original. They go a different route with the idea which was cool don’t get me wrong, I just prefer the original version. I have zero complaints when it comes to this film as a whole and I’m pumped that Jason Momoa is writing a sequel as we speak (you deserve this break brother, I’m rooting for ya). This is one stylish and memorable bloodbath that should be experienced in theatres, though not necessarily in 3D.