‘Conan the Barbarian’ the new epic adventure

Gisela Lagos

“Conan the Barbarian” (2011) paid tribute to the original movies and character, while giving the story new and more human twist.

In true Conan form, the movie gives the audience all the charm of the original movies.  An epic monster, the demure virgin (played by Rachel Nichols), faithful friends, silly sidekicks and the witch (played by Rose McGowan) and the fantastic battle scenes with bold stances all make an appearance.

Pulling from the original books (written by Robert E. Howard), the “Dark Horse” comics and the 1980s movies, director Marcus Nispel managed to create a fantastic world.  By not sticking completely too only the books, graphic novels or movies this story will capture fans of each media.

Jason Momoa, who plays the role of Conan, studied the Conan books, graphic novels and pictures to create an intricate and real life character whose destiny was written by the tragedy he was born into.

While Momoa and Nichols played believable characters, McGowan (who played Marique the evil teenage necromancer) seemed to have been stretched beyond her acting abilities.

The 3-D aspect didn’t add or enhance the movie in any way.  While the rolling landscapes where aesthetically pleasing in 3-D, it added nothing to the story line and squandered time that could have been used for character development.  While the viewer will become enthralled with Conan’s story, the additional characters are not relatable.

There is no character connection with anyone but Conan because the supporting characters fly by the screen in near flickers between Conan being a hero.  The movie would have been enhanced by adding 15 or 20 minutes of supporting character development.  There is a hope that the short introduction to the various characters will leave the movie open for a sequel, which could allow for greater relationship development.

The first half of the movie centered on Conan as a child, from his battle birth to his interactions with his father.  The movie gave more background into the life of Conan as a child and made his character deeper and more human.  Conan is no longer just a hero with god like strength, as the emphasis on his childhood gives a glimpse into his emotional development, or lake thereof.

The fighting scenes were well-choreographed and Momoa used cat like motions to give Conan a magnificent fluidity in his fighting.  For the fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger (who played the role of Conan in the 1980’s “Conan the Barbarian” and “Conan the Destroyer”) Momoa kept several of the well-known Conan stances and fighting poses, but evolved them to be his own.

As for the narration, 1980s Conan fan find nostalgia in the voice of Mako (the narrator and Wizard in both “Conan the Barbarian” and “Conan the Destroyer”). Mako infused the story with magic and wonder using both his wizard role and voice.  For this new decade of Conan fans, Morgan Freeman (who is well known for his acting and his narration of movies and documentaries) is taking up the role and adding his amazing narrative style.

While some may find Freeman’s calming and soothing voice in opposition to the story, I found the contrast a kind mellowing of the exaggerated blood and gore.