Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Conan the Barbarian

Earlier this week, I somehow found myself rocking up to the Jam Factory to see a preview screening of the latest Conan the Barbarian movie in order to review it for Festivale Online Magazine.

Part of my brain told me that of course I should go see it, because it's a fantasy movie, and that's my thing. Sure, the previews made it look a bit mindless with a lame plot, but there was still the possibility that it might have hidden depths not shown in the previews. Failing that, at least it would be visually spectacular . . . (It does star Jason Momoa, after all.)

At least I didn't pay to see the movie. In addition to being mindless with a lame plot (the previews didn't lie, after all), it's also really violent and there's not much depth to any of the characters. Not even the visuals made up for it -- unlike the breathtaking world brought to life in the TV series Game of Thrones, Conan's world is bleak and underwhelming. However, to quote myself, I did think Jason Momoa was "muscularly spectacular".

Here's my full review at Festivale, and my thoughts are probably best summarised in the sixth paragraph: I think my biggest disappointment is the lack of sophistication and subtlety. Here was a chance for the filmmakers to completely subvert expectation, to explore the inner complexities of Conan, his world and the other key players; but instead we are treated to a hackneyed and clich├ęd rendition of the evil overlord, the innocent-yet-feisty girl, the battle-hardened ‘hero’.

I should qualify my views by stating that I've had no other exposure to the "legend" that is Conan, so am really judging this film in isolation. I just don't get why a filmmaker would resort to remaking Conan the Barbarian, when there is so much intelligent and insightful modern fantasy around. A wasted opportunity in my view.

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