See that poster to the left? That's pretty badass right? It would lead one to believe that in one little movie we're going to get a barbarian who not only decimates his foes but is also more than just a sword-swing brute. That one picture offers a pretty fair summation of Conan the Barbarian.
The problem with the movie is that we got something that is more of a mixed bag. Were there moments of sheer ridiculous bloody spectacle? You bet! Was Jason Momoa the right fit for the character? Despite the fact that he looks a bit young, depending on the shot honestly, I do believe he was. There are buxom women for Conan and his fellow adventurers to lie with, plenty of grog to consume and foes by the hundreds to slaughter. There's even some magic and prophecy nonsense to contend with.
Sounds like it SHOULD be fantastic. That's the whole problem with Conan the Barbarian. It SHOULD have been a lot of things but what we got, instead, was a movie that is so uneven that I found myself wanting it just be over by the time the third act was winding down.
The days of high adventure are upon us yet again and this time Morgan Freeman serves as the opening narrator for the prologue. He doesn't quite nail it like Mako did in the original (But then again there won't ever be another one quite like Mako). Corin and the Cimmerian warriors are in the midst of heated battle and a woman slumps over in the midst of the carnage. What follows is a battlefield Caesarian section that results in the would-be warrior Conan being brought into the world. Born of battle this boy is. Now I admit that this is REALLY god damn METAL. I can also understand where some might watch this scene and think "They didn't just do that did they?".
Nonetheless, Corin (Ron Perlman) must forge this young man into a true Cimmerian warrior on his own. The relationship between the father (Corin) and the son (Conan) was handled quite well. The forging of the sword for the boy is something right out of the pages of Robert E. Howard's hallowed text and, frankly, one of the best parts of the entire film. That means, sadly, that's it's mostly downhill from here.
A sadistic bandit named Khalar Zym arrives and lays waste to the village in the hopes of finding the last piece of an ancient mask. Bad guy wants to use a bad weapon to do bad things. Standard stuff. Corin is left to be engulfed in molten iron while Conan watches helplessly. The boy born of battle is also born of tragedy. So this is going to be a revenge tale is it?
Zym (Stephen Lang) is a heartless bastard who wants to seize control of the known world and, in the beginning, I found him interesting. That soon changed to complete disinterest as the film wore on. His daughter, Marique (Rose McGowan), turned out to be one of the more well-acted parts in the film though that's not saying much considering the bulk of performances here were pretty bad.
Conan (Jason Momoa) for all his potential didn't get a chance to do much here and, honestly, I blame the script and direction more than anything for that. If a secondary character like Marique is the highlight of the film then we're in trouble.
The action! That has to be good right? Well, it was at times. I got the feeling that the editing was either rushed greatly or someone just had no CLUE what they were doing. Let's do quick jump cuts and make it all frenetic! Yeah! Too bad the audience can't actually see what the hell is going on half the time. It was very reminiscent of the first Transformers movie at times with the amount of just "There's something happening I'm sure of it" feeling I got.
I'm going to lay it all out here and just blame Marcus Nispel for most of this film's craptastic run-time. He just did not handle this property well, but then again it probably wasn't going to turn out well since the screenwriters of the film adaptation of Dylan Dog had writing duties here. If the people behind the lens had actually done a better job we might have had a swords and sorcery epic worthy of the Robert E. Howard source material. We got, instead, a one-dimensional barbarian who grunts and growls more than speaks. Battle scenes that are so poorly cut sometimes that it was hard to follow coupled with bland photography and a musical score that just didn't inspire. Let's not forget the forgettable characters that the villain, co-hort and the love interest were. I honestly barely remember much else other than some of the fight scenes and Jason Momoa trying his hardest to make something of this bad screenplay.
Conan deserves so much better than this.