Review: Conan The Barbarian

daniel cohen reviews the remake of the classic Arnold flick …

Plot: Conan (Jason Momoa), a barbarian from the village Cimmeria, seeks revenge on Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) for the death of his family and destruction of his village. Khalar Zym seeks ultimate power as he searches for a pure blood (Rachel Nichols) that will revive his wife and make him a God.

I’ve never seen a movie where almost every scene was nothing but action, yet I was still bored out of my mind. Yeah, my eyes drifted a little bit while watching this one. While I appreciate the director’s (Marcus Nispel) acknowledgment that this is Conan The Barbarian and not Shakespeare, it just seems like one long action scene. It’s very reminiscent of a Michael Bay movie where’s it’s so much action, that I actually felt my brain melting away. They were in a tough spot though, because whenever they have non-action moments, it feels like Conan is striking me with his sword. What this movie really needed though was a more established leading man.

Jason Momoa (Game Of Thrones) plays Conan, and he’s … not good. It was actually kind of impressive to watch him try and scrunch up his face for the entire performance. Every time he spoke, it was just horrible delivery. he kid who plays the younger Conan (Leo Howard) was also bad, so I guess Conan’s bad acting stayed with him when he grew up. A lot of this movie is people raising their swords in the air and screaming awkwardly. Jason Momoa was the worst at it. Conan’s also kind of a dick. His first approach to getting information with people is stabbing them in really painful places. He doesn’t even give them a chance to answer the question. He just strikes right off the bat! Come on, man. If they just had a more charismatic actor in the role, this could have been solid. I have to think someone like Dwayne Johnson was at least approached for this. It’s even that much worse when the last guy to play this role was Arnold Schwarzenegger. This casting was just a complete misfire.

The other performances are nothing special, either. Rachel Nichols is annoying as the pure blood/love interest Tamara. Ron Perlman is fine as Conan’s father Corin, but we don’t see much of him. Stephen Lang sleepwalks as Khalar Zym, otherwise known as random power seeking villain No. 86. The only mildly intriguing character was Marique, this freaky sorceress who looks like Sheeva from Mortal Kombat, but played well by Rose McGowan. Her drive to prove herself as equally powerful to her deceased mother was the only interesting character trait going on in this entire movie.

Part of the reason why I couldn’t get into the ridiculous amounts of action and sword play was because I just didn’t care about the characters or story. After a narration by Morgan Freeman in which he sounded like he had two seconds to read the material, we jump right into the action. The story is barely put together. Yeah, we get a cool opening sequence, but I have no idea what’s going on. That’s why movies can’t just push the ‘action button’ and hope for the best. Even in a sub-par film like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, we get to know the personalities of the characters a little bit before they jump into the first bad ass action sequence, therefore I cared about them. Bottom-line … establish something before diving in.

The one thing I can say about this movie is that the violence is pretty brutal. There’s one truly terrible torture scene that will make you squirm. And by the end, the film revs up the spectacle even more. I just wish I cared about something in this movie to make those action scenes not seem so jarring. The score is bad, the jokes fall flat, and a much better lead actor could have at least made this a fun ride, but I’m left with one word after watching this movie: forgettable.

Rating: 5 out of 10 (Barely Passable Entertainment)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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