Conan the Barbarian (15)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Aug 23 2011You don’t go into a remake of ‘Conan the Barbarian’ expecting a groundbreaking epic of cinematic genius. But, even with low expectations, this CG-heavy take on John Milius’s beloved 1982 sword ’n’ sorcery classic comes across as a half-hearted affair. Jettisoning everything that made the original work – the knowing stoner humour, the sprawling narrative canvas, the spit-and-sawdust special effects, Basil Poledouris’s magnificent score and, of course, the Austrian Oak himself – this is a standalone story not worthy of the ‘Conan’ brand.
To be fair, it starts reasonably well, as Conan is born on the battlefield, ripped from his dying mother’s womb by strapping dad Ron Perlman, who seems to be under contract to appear in every beards ’n’ broadswords fantasy going. For the next half hour, it’s unambitious but enjoyable, as Conan grows to manhood (and turns into rippling ‘Game of Thrones’ star Jason Momoa), decapitates a few chumps and makes some powerful enemies, including power-crazed warlock Khalar Zim (Stephen Lang) and his preening proto-goth daughter Marique (Rose McGowan).
All of which is serviceable enough. But somewhere in the middle it starts to unravel: battles kick off for no reason other than it’s been a while since the last one, Conan hooks up with forgettable love interest Tamara (Rachel Nichols) and the plot becomes repetitive – poor Tamara gets chased around by the baddies about four times. Momoa is a charisma-neutral hunk of beef in the lead role, and only McGowan, who comes on like a cross between Shirley Manson and Freddy?Krueger, appears to be having any fun. The result is sporadically enjoyable – director Marcus Nispel has a way with a nifty action set-piece, when the overbearing SFX aren’t getting in the way – but mostly pointless. Rent the original instead.
Author: Tom Huddleston