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Conan the Barbarian

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Newest Conan Flick Fails to Kick
Enough Hyborian Age Butt at the Boxoffice

January 20, 2012 by Will Hoover

Prior to the release of Conan the Barbarian in 2011, it had been too long since the world had seen the legendary axe and sword wielding man of action on the silver screen.  Much, much too long.

Conan creator, Robert E. Howard

Unfortunately however, this newest version starring Jason Momoa (Ronon Dex of Stargate: Atlantis) as the classic Hyborian Age badass created by Robert E. Howard failed to even so much as break even at the boxoffice.

Mostly shot on location in Bulgaria, the film certainly appears to have been more than competently helmed by Marcus Nispel.

Likewise, the
script by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood seems to have been more than adequate in breathing renewed life into the ever evolving mythos of the pulp fiction hero first envisioned by Howard way back in 1932.

What then, could have possibly kept moviegoers away from this more than worthy new Conan epic?  Good question.

Whatever the case may be, I personally really enjoyed the film on quite a number of levels.  First starters, Jason Momoa makes  a fantastic Conan!  AND... the man can act.  He may be no Laurence Olivier or Jack Nicholson at this tender stage in his show biz career, but he is certainly just as believable (or perhaps even more so) in the part as our beloved Arnie was in the 1982 original.

Jason Momoa is a more than worthy Conan and a fine successor to Arnold Schwarzenegger

What's more, the supporting players are pretty darn good too!  The film also stars the lovely Rachel Nichols (Scarlett from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) as Tamara, Conan's love interest and the temple dwelling novitiate of a mostly absent queen named Illira.

Though not quite as pretty as Nichols perhaps, the always versatile
Stephen Lang (Colonel Miles Quaritch in Avatar, George Pickett in Gettysburg and Stonewall Jackson in Gods and Generals) portrays evil doer Khalar Zym with the usual character actor driven gusto that increasingly admiring audiences have come to expect.

Rachel Nichols (Tamara) in a tense scene opposite Conan

Master character actor Steven Lang as Khalar Zym

In fact, in this mighty Conan offering, Stephen Lang isn't just a ruthless warlord who is searching for a way to restore life to his long dead beloved wife Maliva, a Witch Queen of Acheron, he's actually pretty darn chilling and surprisingly effective, given the fact that his character is more or less, just your average one dimensional comic book villain.

Khalar Zym finally has all the pieces of the powerful Mask of Acheron

Aiding Lang in Hyborian Age crime in the film are Zym's legion of Aquilonian mercenaries, played, among others, by Bob Sapp (Ukafa) and Steven O'Donnell (Lucius).  Yet Rose McGowan, who plays the evil witch Marique (who is incidentally the daughter of wicked Khalar Zym) is naturally much more memorable than any of Zym's mostly just nasty lineup of villainous henchmen.  Sadly however, Ms. McGowan has definitely looked a whole lot better in previous starring roles.  Oh well.  Rose is still a very lovely lady.  Can't really blame her for so skillfully inhabiting the role, now can we?

You don't wanna mess with creepy Marique, as she spills quite a lot of blood in the film

Most of all, veteran genre film star Ron Perlman is his usual talented and highly memorable self while playing Conan's father, the leader of the Cimmerian people.  Unfortunately however, his wonderful performance doesn't seem to have been quite enough to entice more folks into seeing this newest Conan flick.  Bummer.  'Cause as any self respecting fan boy well knows; Ron Perlman rocks, dude!

Conan the Barbarian, the legendary hero born in the midst of battle

But perhaps most to the point is whether or not Jason Momoa really does fill Arnold Schwarzenegger's mighty sandals?  Absolutely!  Momoa looks the part of Conan just as much or more than Schwarzenegger ever did, and even as a relative acting newcomer, he still manages to go far above and beyond the classic look of the character to truly be more or less believable.  Well, as believable as any comic book movie barbarian could be, of course.

Hopefully, the curious lack of interest in this film won't keep Momoa from reprising his role

To be certain, this version of Conan the Barbarian is the story of a younger, somewhat leaner, edgier and perhaps much more unpredictable and adventurous character than previously seen in the Schwarzenegger films.  And who knows?  Maybe the film will even eventually become something of a cult classic.  Though naturally, that remains to be seen.  As does the eventual tally of DVD sales that are usually necessary to help offset the production costs of a movie such as this one, that only manages to limp its way through worldwide release.

The evil "witch daughter" Marique and the cruel and treacherous followers of Zym

All told, the 2011 retelling of Conan the Barbarian is a great movie!  The only thing that comes to mind as to why this picture didn't fill theaters to the brim in its initial outing is that the filmmakers may very well have made the usual mistake of delivering a project that is overall, much too graphic for young audiences; thereby automatically eliminating quite a large percentage of possible ticket sales.  Not to mention all the missed opportunities for potentially lucrative tie-in toy lines!

I mean, come on guys!  If you're going to deliver a comic book movie, why keep the kids out with gratuitous nudity and blood spilling violence?  Okay, to be fair, unclothed dark age dolls and decapitations galore certainly didn't keep the original Conan the Barbarian from succeeding back in 1982, but perhaps times were decidedly different then.

Fledgling actor Leo Howard makes an EXCELLENT young Conan in the film

Conan, the eternal survivor shall return!

Mind you, movies like John Milius' memorable (though certainly not wholly unflawed) take on the Conan character really weren't all that plentiful in the late 70s and early 80s.  Perhaps audiences today are simply far too jaded by increasingly visually sophisticated and stunning cloak and dagger epics such as Gladiator and 300 to get too excited by the simple tale of a lone barbarian on a quest to one day avenge the murder his father.

But therein lies the true rub; since Conan's much storied adventures have long been permeated by book and graphic novel covers with angry, swording swinging strongmen and maidens and witch queens in all sorts of states of near undress.  And I guess, when your story takes place in a violent dark age, shrouded in myth and legend, any film on the subject is going to at least flirt with content of a more or less graphic nature.

Be sure to check out the official website for the film for all the latest details and updates.  Hopefully, if you haven't already been motivated to plunk down your hard earned cash to see or add the flick to your DVD collection, the interactive site will quickly convince you to do so.

Conan the Barbarian and all related characters, marks and images are the property of... ?????

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