'Conan the Barbarian' review / Susan Granger
Published 4:55 pm, Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Cashing in on the 3-D craze, this uber-violent action-adventure serves as a reminder of how much more memorable John Milius's 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger version was. I'm not sayin' that the Austrian cad is a better actor. I think half-Hawaiian actor/model Jason Momoa showed great character as Khal Drogo, the intimidating Dothraki warlord in HBO's "Game of Thrones," evolving from his hunky "Baywatch" persona.
But Conan's still a misogynistic, stoic stiff who reveals the depths of his soul with: "I live. I love, I slay. I am content."
In the opening battlefield scene, Conan's father, Corin (Ron Perlman), slices his infant son from the womb of his dying wife (Laila Rouass). Corin is the leader of the doomed Cimmerian tribe and he's subsequently killed by Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang from "Avatar"), Hyboria's most ferocious warrior. So you know there's going to be a vengeful, climactic confrontation between Conan and Khalar, punctuated by a search for the powerful Mask of Acheron, made from the "bones of kings."
On the distaff side, there's a campy, villainous sorceress, Marique (Rose McGowan), Khalar Zym's daughter, and a feisty temple priestess, Tamara (Rachel Nichols), Conan's romantic interest. But lest you think you're seeing Nichols' nudity, her bare-breasted scenes were done by an un-credited Bulgarian body-double. As Momoa reports, "I got to kiss Rachel, but then go in there with the Bulgarian girl."
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Adapted by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood from Robert E. Howard's pulpy, original concept, the humorless screenplay revolves around revenge. Having refashioned "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Friday the 13,th" German-born director Marcus Nispel again demonstrates strong visual style. Particularly memorable is a CGI sequence, produced by Tom Horton and Reliance MediaWorks, in which shape-shifting sand warriors materialize out of dust to torment Conan.
For the curious, the 6'5" tall, 43-year-old Momoa, who grew up in the Midwest, is married to actress Lisa Bonet and they have two small children.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Conan the Barbarian" is a savage 3, filled with visceral blood-and-guts carnage.