See it to believe it. Naysayers are only fooling themselves.
* * * * * / 5
I didn't watch this in the cinemas because I was not at all impressed with the previews and trailers. Watched it in regular DVD today. I actually liked it. There is good reason why.
This one has no connection nor shared mythology with the wonderful Arnold Schwarzenegger movies of the 80s - this one is a good followup though it failed to reboot the franchise at the box office. It is a good pulp action movie. Everything you would expect from a costume-sword-sorcery-legend. I didn't like the the first few minutes with the narration, they should have worked it into the plot. But I guess if they did that, they would have to make long drawn out boring trilogy like The Lord of the Rings which is still not as worse as the boring snoozefest written by Tolkien. But after that brief narration, when this movie starts, it starts in amazing style and drama. You have to watch it to realise it.
This is an engaging remake of the original Conan the Barbarian movies. Much better production of course, thanks to improvement in technology and design. I don't understand the criticisms of this movie. Sure, it is a predictable pulp fiction plot. But that is why I am watching it, no? A real pulp no-holds-barred thrill.
The pace is good. The story doesn't rush forward. It unfolds its plot well. The action is on a grand scale. Real war. Million times better than watching a bunch of dwarf kids running around with a magical ring in Middle Earth. Conan rises. He is the prodigal son born out of war and death. His father raises him under due discipline. But Conan has wild barbarian blood in him. The child actor playing the young Conan, Leo Howard is brilliant. He does a good job showing the cold-blooded brutality and harsh reality of a savage world of an ancient era. The man playing his father is also a very good character actor here. The son grows up alone and he seeks revenge. He slays and pillages and loots. He has comrades. But the man he seeks, he shall fight him alone. This raw energy is well portrayed by the actor Jason Momoa. He is a fresh change from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course the image of Arnold as Conan the Barbarian shall be imprinted on our minds forever. But see this movie as a new one, a fresh narration. Actor Jason Momoa is an athletic, intelligent and impressive man, not the bulging angry hulk that Arnold portrayed. Jason Momoa is also quite handsome and delivers his lines well with good amount of emotion and strength in his voice. That dialogue delivery alone takes him up a few notches to match up with the legend that is Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is a more realistic depiction of an ancient warrior.
During the making of the Arnold version of Conan, many scenes were cut on the editing table because of graphic violence. This 2011 version doesn't suffer that fate. Here the savagery is naked and startling. But the Arnold version was true to the sword and sorcery genre. This 2011 remake is more mainstream and seeks more "realistic" depiction of ancient warfare, chaos and belief systems. I like both. I can't pick one over the other. Both as they stand alone are beautifully made and well directed. The 2011 version is in epic proportions, a lot more money having been spent on making this one. The cinematography and lighting is very complimentary to the storyline as it progresses.
Jason Momoa is a great find. I haven't seen any other movies of his. I would like to. I hope his career isn't affected by the boxoffice results of this Conan adventure. He has great potential as an action hero in any type of movie, period or modern. His talent shines here and carries the movie on his broad scarred shoulders as he rampages against an evil warlord. He is one good reason to go watch this movie. The other is the costumes. It is not overdone like in Gladiator or The Lord of the Rings. Here the costume doesn't steal the limelight and attention from the actors playing their vicious roles. In Conan 2011, the costumes blend in and become an essential accessory of the storyline. We don't get distracted. It just makes everything more real.
The franchise has a real chance of surviving. It needs better brand management among other things. Such as a whole new storyline, updating the ancient Robert E. Howard texts by making it more attractive to modern day sword-sorcery-fantasy fans. This would mean a real reboot of the series. There is so much that can be done. I hope a serious director takes up this project in the near future and rebuilds it as it deserves to.
The sets and location of Conan 2011 is spectacular. It overshadows any compliment you could give to the 1982 movie. The climax especially is in epic proportions and righly so. Lot of good work has gone into this movie and this is apparent as it progresses through the second half.
Among other memorable characters, there is a real talent in the actress playing the evil daughter-witch - Rose McGowan. She exudes evil and she lives it in the role of Marique. Stunning! The other villains also steal the show. They are more memorable than say Conan's allies such as his pirate-friend or the master-thief. Stephen Lang does justice to his role as a warlord. He is not overtly evil. He is patient and wise and calculating. Well portrayed to bring a worthy adversary to Conan. And of course there is the incredibly recognisable and impressive narrative voice of Morgan Freeman retelling the legend of Conan.
Actually, the movie needed better marketing effort. I now wish I had seen this on the big silver screen in 3D as it was meant to be. Never mind! Watch it, you won't be disappointed - it is a entertainer and awe-inspiring effort too. I am giving this 5 stars. The Oscar winners don't know what fun they are missing!
Those who are complaining about this movie saying it is a travesty or saying that they liked the 1982 film but this one is horrible - you know, these are the same people who would have given bad reviews to the 1982 film if we were living in 1982. But now, they call that a great movie and call this poor. LOL.