Friday, 19 August 2011

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Conan The Barbarian [Review]


Opinion: C+

An expensive B-grade exploitation film is what the 2011 Conan The Barbarian feels like, it's apparent that there's a specific target audience the filmmakers have in mind. With a brisk pace throughout only to be slowed occasionally by the pre-requisitory close-up sequences of poorly-scripted dialogue, this Conan truly goes barbaric and champions non-stop violence by thrusting his sword and fists at just about anyone or anything without question, leaving his brains in primitive hibernation back in prehistoric caves until the time calls for an intelligent era.


The most legendary Barbarian of all time is back this Summer. Having thrived and evolved for eight consecutive decades in the public imagination - in prose and graphics, on the big screen and small, in games and properties of all kinds- Conan's exploits in the Hyborian Age now come alive like never before in a colossal 3D action-adventure film.

A quest that begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon turns into an epic battle against hulking rivals, horrific monsters, and impossible odds, as Conan realizes he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil.

Deftly adapted from the original works of Robert E. Howard and faithful to the mythology and psychology of his iconic character, "Conan the Barbarian" stars Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Said Taghmaoui and Ron Perlman. The film is directed by Marcus Nispel, and written by Thomas Dean Donnelly & Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood.


Morgan Freeman opens this film with a narrative voice-over to simulate epicness within grainy warm-hued images. This premise is quickly disrupted by a blind blade finding itself into the womb of Conan's mother.

Warcry, violence, blood, grunts, and bits of human biology flying about. The opening scene of mayhem in the home village of Conan highly suggests the intended outcome of this film. B-grade films were made in the past as a mode of cheap films that specifically catered to intrinsic desires of the audience. There's violence, sex, gore, horror, stunts, and many other exploitative genres.

Here, we see quite a bit of financial prowess lying about in various forms of production values. The CG visuals is impressive for a B-grade film and the costumes and set decoration is very much authentic, especially when you take into consideration that the film is shot on location in Bulgaria.

The details extend further when we see the witch daughter of Khalar Zym, Marique, played by Rose McGowan. McGowan is someone who is closer to a sex symbol in our minds. Here she becomes a vicious witchcraft fiend in Conan The Barbarian and it was especially her makeup that rendered me quite a startle with her role image (as pictured in the still above). Of course, the effective makeup is later largely applied in the blood and gore section of the film, notably a severed nose.

Jason Momoa, who is mostly involved in television productions prior, comes on board this film reboot with quite a pair of shoes to fill. Previously acting the title role of the 1982 similar-titled film, was the buff muscular action star (now political Governor) Arnold Schwarzenegger. Albeit not as well-build as Schwarzenegger, it seems that he's able to ferociously embody the barbaric demeanour well enough that is likely due to his recent breakthrough role in HBO series Game of Throne.

Conan The Barbarian attacks our senses blatantly via senseless sequences of violence and some nudity amidst a similarly senseless script. Dialogues are mostly one-two liners that doesn't hint much about the characters' identity and are considered to be of no considerable credit towards the shaping of the film quality.

There is a side note on my end involving the slurring mumbles that the male cast members (especially Momoa) seem to be sporting. In aim of objectivity, either the sound recording/design of the film isn't working or the theatre where my screening was held had certain sound tuning issues. But I digress.

Cinematography wasn't worthy of note and is especially excruciatingly painful to sit through during some of the chaotic battle sequences that consist of rock-shaky footages of violence. This subtly reminds me of the chaotic camerawork of the Uruk-hai battle sequences in LOTR.

Speaking of which, Conan The Barbarian is also offered in 3D, which isn't available in my region (phew!).

With that, Momoa and McGowan are two of the highlights, besides the constant violence and red gushes that saturates the entire film. Unless you're fans of B-grade violence, this sword and sorcery film might not make a fulfilling cinematic experience.

(Premiere screening courtesy of Golden Village and Omy.sg)


5 comments:

  1. Did I tell you this one was shot in my country? :) Pay attention to the scenery. I think they chose our country as location, not only because of the beautiful nature, but because we're so dated, and this dateness fits the time period of the movie. LOL.

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  2. @Nebular I think it's shot in Sofia if I'm not wrong. Oh George, you shouldn't say that. They probably picked Bulgaria for its scenic mountain range and plains that is void of urbanised settings to fit the period, but there's also urbanised regions in Bulgaria!

    Speaking of which, I'd love to visit Bulgaria someday! :)

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  3. It's shot in Sofia and nearby in the wilderness.
    Of course there are urbanized regions in Bulgaria. Sofia's population is about 2,000,000 people. If that's not urbanized, I don't know what it is. :) We have it all, J-Son, but compared to an ultra-modern country like yours and considering the fact we are a post-communist country, we seem a bit dated. :)

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  4. Hmm, indeed there are certain benefits from living in an Alpha world city, but I find the pace of life too fast. We've got close to 6 million people living in a small area (makes us third most crowded country, haha!)

    I'm interested to visit Bulgaria someday and maybe if there's a chance you can come visit Singapore as well! :) It would make a good exchange for both of us! :D

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  5. It would be great if you visit Bulgaria someday. I'll be glad to be your host and guide :)
    As for Singapore... well, I afraid that if I ever visit it, I won't be going back home. That's how much I like it :)

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