Conan the Barbarian (Rated R) Two Stars
Question: Conan, what is best in life? Answer: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.
If only this Conan (Jason Momoa) were as eloquent as Famous Original Conan. If only this Conan used as much baby oil to shine up his constantly ex-posed everything! Oh well. The new Conan the Barbarian (113 minutes) is not entirely without joy. What it does lack is a coherent plot, likeable char-acters, a charismatic hero and a good ending. Other than that, it’s really not terrible when compared to a truly awful film. You know, like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, or Batman and Robin. Of course it does display a complete lack of awareness of its more sexist elements.
Um, I guess I’ll have to be the one to say it … Conan the Barbarian (1982) starring the notoriously sexist Arnold Schwarzenegger (The recent scandal? Nothing. Consider Googling this one) was actually more egalitarian than the 2011 remake. At least the original had stuntwoman Sandahl Bergman as female lead Valeria, swinging her great big sword around. All this Conan has going for gender equality is Rachel Nichols, last seen playing a sexy green alien plaything of Captain Kirk on the Star Trek reboot, seen here getting tied up a lot and occa-sionally girlfighting with Rose McGowan. Ah, Rose McGowan. You used to be cool.
The film begins with a voiceover explaining that things in Hyboria are all messed up because evil necromancers have played with death magic once too often, destroyed civilization and left behind a bunch of flea bitten barbarians to wax poetic about their big, pointy, shiny, steel, um, swords. And then, in battle, Conan is born! He clearly possesses several superior qualities, not the least of which is his superhuman constitution, evidenced by the way he does not im-mediately contract a life shortening infection from all the mud and non-sterile birthing conditions.
Fast-forward. Young Conan is rocking the unwashed dreadlock look, and his Chieftain Dad (Ron Perlman) is running around shoving eggs into everyone’s mouth. Yes, with or without context, it’s just a bizarre scene and an interest-ing parenting style. A Warlord Dude (Stephan Lang) and his witchy daughter (McGowan) show up to burn the place down. Warlord Dude and the Minions, in classic Austin Powers style, leave the mostly intact, and pretty ferocious young Conan in an overly elaborate and easily escapable situation, then wander out of the movie for the next several scenes. In a shocking twist, Conan escapes and finishes learning to fight and stuff. He hooks up with some … pirates? I think? But they’re okay pirates? Not the bad kind that viciously rob and murder peo-ple? Anyway, seeing as how I have already mentioned the sexual politics I will skip discussing the race politics of the movie. But, think about it, won’t you?
After about 20 years traveling around and asking about the man with six fingers on his right hand, Conan finally gets a lead. My name is Conan the Barbarian, you killed my father, prepare to die! He does not say it. But he does lure the Warlord Dude (Khalar Zym) into a mano-e-mano, then acts really sur-prised when the murderous untrustworthy Warlord Dude brings a witch to a swordfight. Me? I’m surprised that he only brought a witch. I was waiting for his entire army to come riding over the ridge. Especially considering the overall inef-fectiveness (in both witching and acting) of said witch.
Overall, you might want to save your money for buying the original, which may have been campier, but was also a lot more fun, AND had James Earl Jones turning into a snake!
Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.