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Sunday, 23 October 2011

Blockbuster Review: Conan The Barbarian 2011

After the pleasant surprise of the last Hollywood blockbuster I watched and review, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, we return to yet another wholly unnecessary, entirely awful re-imagining of an 80's classic.

Conan the Barbarian was directed by Marcus Nispel, who is mainly known for a couple of reimaginings of classic horror films and the very poorly received Pathfinder. And was written by an assortments of writers, all of which have pretty terrible scripts to their names.
It stars Jason Momoa as the titular character, as well as Rose McGowan, Ron Perlman and Stephen Lang.

The original Conan The Barbarian was by no means a great film, and certainly wasn't a particularly successful one as it failed in it's aim to launch the heroic fantasy genre into mainstream cinema and only succeeded in propelling Arnold Shwarzenegger into a career full of terrible action films.

But at least that film had aims to speak of, and fulfilled a purpose of sorts (whether it was a good purpose is a matter of opinion of course), but this remake is nothing more than an enormous waste of money in the worst possible kind of way.

This film was terribly made and contains not a single noteworthy performance or well written line of dialogue, and yet all this isn't where it fails so horribly. For I have seen films made in a considerably worse fashion that were infinitely better than this one.
What lets this film down so much, is it's very nature. The fact that it is a remake of a film that so summed up a certain portion of Hollywood Cinema in the 80's does not work in this film favour, for while it is a "re-imagining" of the story, it has not re-imagined the themes and values presented within the film to fit a modern audience, thus while the originals' faults in this department can be laid down to being in some respect representative of the times it was made in, this film has no excuse.
All it did was make the same kind of film, with enhanced visuals and more gore. It is still just as sexist, as stereotyped and as mildly offensive as it's content as the first, but the difference is it is screening before a modern audience and thus should have made at least some efforts.
We have all the scantily clad yet ultimately useless females, the hulking, moronic hero, the comedic black sidekick, the Arabic thief etc... All who fill out their stereotypical roles perfectly, with bad accents where required.
However, I have noticed that this isn't one of the primary complaints brought up by those criticising this film. Perhaps the slew of 80's inspired films that has appeared recently has altered viewers perception of this aspect.

But to be honest, there is so much wrong with this film that I'm not surprised many people overlooked the previous point.
What surprised me about this film was that although I had expected to see an uninspired story, cartoonish characters, bad dialogue etc... I was shocked to find that even the elements one pays less attention too were poor. Such as the sound editing, how often do you see a review mention this? But here I feel I must because it was quite poor indeed, with overly loud battle sequences, but barely audible dialogue and just a bad sound design all around.
The editing was equally poor, creating a horrendously paced film that skips from one scene to another without rhythm of any sort. Not that this effects the story in any major way, as it would still have been awful even with good pacing. The whole story is meaningless, it is a typical revenge story but lacking the character development that usually occurs through such stories, Conan looks for the man who killed his father, finds him, kills him, the end. Everything concerning the characters can literally be summed up by their physique and basic motivations, for example, Conan is a massively muscled barbarian and is after revenge, that is as far as his character goes. Some characters have no motivations what so ever, but just hang around the film getting into fights.
Speaking of fights, the battle sequences in this film are massively disappointing, if a film about a barbarian's quest for bloody revenge set in a land torn apart by far can't even create good or even particularly memorable action sequences, then has it any use at all?

Thus we come to the core point of my dissatisfaction with this film: Conan The Barbarian is an utterly useless film, it sets out with no goals, and consequently achieves nothing. It can be seen as a quick shot of fast food cinematic entertainement, and surely will be seen that way by the majority of people, but the fact that 70 million was spent on a film with no creativity put into it, not even the slightest vision propelling it, makes me lament the existence of this film rather than shrug it off as mindless entertainment.

All in all, Conan The Barbarian is an almost unbelievably bad film, that could still have been mildly amusing had it not taken itself so seriously.
This may seem like a rather short review, but I really have nothing more to say about this enormous waste of time and money.

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