Today: April 16, 2024

Conan The Barbarian DVD

With the recent trend of rebooting much-loved Arnold Schwarzenegger movies from the 80s/90s, the obvious question to ask is: how do you replace the musclebound movie star?

With the
recent trend of rebooting much-loved Arnold Schwarzenegger movies from the
80s/90s, the obvious question to ask is: how do you replace the musclebound
movie star?
With Predators
and the currently filming Total Recall,
the smart move has been to go the opposite way and cast the weedy Adrien Brody and Colin Farrell respectively. Unfortunately, this isn’t really an
option for this swords ‘n’ sorcery epic that relies on its titular character to
have rippling pectorals and tree-trunk arms.

So we have former Baywatch
beefcake Jason Momoa stepping into
Arnie’s sandals as Conan’s quest goes from enacting personal revenge over the
death of his father to saving his nation’s people from a reign of supernatural
evil. While the 1982 original is now best remembered as the kind of camp
classic that simply cannot be recreated in today’s era of movie-making, at
least the film makes a valiant attempt at making up for this with a bigger
budget spent on spectacular special effects and CGI monsters.

After an exhilarating and bloody opening, in which a young Conan proves
himself worthy as a champion by taking on several enemy warriors and bringing
their severed heads to his proud dad (Perlman),
a conquering adult Conan embarks on a carnage-filled adventure of battles and
witchcraft. The problem is, whereas Arnie’s portrayal of the character was one
informed by naivety and wonder, Jason Momoa lacks any kind of personality. As a
result, the sword-swinging antics of this all-brawn meathead soon become
tedious.

However, Stephen Lang’s evil
villain Khalar Zym and his needles-for-nails daughter Marique, played by Rose McGowan, thankfully inject some
much-needed fun into a story that is otherwise as barren as its desert
backdrop. Their over-the-top wickedness and bloodthirsty behaviour is a welcome
contrast to Conan’s characterless conduct and provides the most entertainment
in a film that feels laden down with dramatic vendettas and complex scheming.

Although, of course, there’s the visual spectacle of CGI to keep the
screen popping throughout the film’s duration. Computer-generated fiends are a
pleasing addition to this story, considering the original’s understandable shortage
of big-budget baddies. With sand monster men forming a seemingly unbeatable foe
for Conan, we get treated to some great blockbuster beasts similar to those
from The Mummy and Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time. In
a film where most of the action involves running, horses and weapons, at least
these creatures up the ante in selling the supernatural elements of the story.

Overall, the film fails to live up to the original, but then the classic
Conan The Barbarian was always a showcase for the Austrian powerhouse and
future Governator and so remaking the film without him was always going to be a
tricky sell. But, under the circumstances, this film is as good as any
irrefutable Arnie movie without Arnie could possibly be.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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