At The Theater 2011 #11: Conan the Barbarian

A teenage obsession with Magic: the Gathering and a friend who really liked the Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan the Barbarian led to me seeing the new Conan the Barbarian. The Rotten Tomatoes score of 24 had me not expected much. But I’m happy to say I enjoyed Conan the Barbarian. I don’t think it deserves its very low score of 24 on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a fun summer blockbuster, though with its $10 million first weekend take, I guess blockbuster is the wrong choice of words. But I thought it was good. I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than I did 300. There were thankfully no extended slo-mo scenes in Conan like 300 used ad nauseum. If I had to choose between Conan and the upcoming Immortals, I’d definitely go with Conan, but maybe that has more to do with Immortals looking like they took 300 and changed the name to Immortals.

We saw the 2D version of Conan the Barbarian. From what I understand, only 20% of the 3D version is actually in 3D. While watching it in 2D, I couldn’t figure out where the 3D parts would be in the movie. Nothing really jumped out at me as an obvious choice.

I think what helped me like Conan was the amount of humor the movie had. It wasn’t as slapstick as Thor, but it had some funny lines throughout that helped make the movie more enjoyable. My favorite line is the movie came right after Conan was about to kill a particularly goblin-looking bad guy, but was stopped by his eventual love interest Tamara. Then the following exchange happens:

Bad guy: You lie, whore!
Tamara: (to Conan) You can kill him now.

There was some unintentional humor in the movie as well. Tamara and the other women who were being guarded by the monks all reminded me of Zoot and her compatriots that Galahad encounters in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I kept waiting for one of them to say “Bad, bad Zoot! Wicked, naughty Zoot.”

The other unintentional piece of humor in the film was Jason Mamoa’s resemblance to Brendan Fraser playing Encino Man during a few scenes in the movie. Basically any time Mamoa was looking up with his head facing down, he looked like Encino Man. I think he did this to look grim, but I just expected the Wuh-hees-el to jump out behind him. Actually, that would have been an awesome cameo, Pauly Shore in barbarian gear. Almost everyone else in the cast looks like they just stepped off the stage of an 80’s hair band concert; the Weasel might have fit right in.

Actual footage from Conan the Barbarian.

Mamoa is an awesome Conan though, and really feels like he’s the character brought to life. Besides just being freaking huge, he’s a good actor.

Rose McGowan plays the evil witch Marique. She looks very, very strange in this movie. Unfortunately, I don’t know how much of it is Marique and how much of it is her own botched plastic surgery. Anyone else see how strange she looked in Law & Order: SVU last season? It’s sad, because I used to have a huge crush on Rose McGowan. She used to be very pretty.

Note: This is not her Conan make-up. Rose, what happened?!?

At one point in Conan the Barbarian, our titular hero has to hunt down the bad guys who are holed up in Skull Cave, which to its credit, looks like a skull. I get the feeling that caves shaped like skulls are as common in Hyboria as Hudson News are in Penn Station. Maybe it would help to name your skull caves a little more specifically so that Conan doesn’t show up at the wrong Skull Cave, which causes him to fail to save the girl and stop the evil wizard, thus sending us into a dark age like no other. This particular skull cave had a water fall coming out of its lower jaw. Why not call it Drooling Skull Cave?

Conan the Barbarian is definitely very bloody. The movie begins with Conan literally being born on the battlefield. Later in the movie, Conan sticks his fingers into the cavity of where one of his adversary’s nose used to be. I cringed. It was awesome.

If you’re looking for a fun movie and like a bit of sword and sorcery mixed with your action, Conan the Barbarian may be the movie for you.s