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Conan The Barbarian
Stars: Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Rachel Nichols, Rose McGowan, Said Taghmaoui, Leo Howard and Ron Perlman
Director: Marcus Nispel
Scriptwriters: Joshua Oppenheimer, Sean Hood and Thomas Dean Donnelly from the character of Conan as created by Robert E. Howard
Composer: Ken Blackwell
Lionsgate/Millennium Films
3D and 2D
Running Length: 115 minutes
Rating: R for violence and nudity
I was cheering for Kevin Durand (“Robin Hood”) to take the part of Conan, the Barbarian in this film, which is sure to be the beginning of a new franchise for the character. Durand has a commanding voice, however, Jason Momoa (“Stargate: Atlantis“), he of the long, long hair got the part. Momoa may have shoulder muscles a Nebraska linebacker would envy, but he does not have a commanding voice. Should have taken lessons from the villain in “Conan The Barbarian,” Stephen Lang, who emotes his threats.
Basically, the story takes many common occurrences in film scripts (village raids, battle scenes, horse back chases, crumbling ruins, childbirth and full battle with little clothing on or damsels in distress with no clothing on) and puts them together for the Conan character. The childbirth happens in the beginning of the film, and after that, the audience can face just about anything. As a child, Conan (Leo Howard) watches his Cimmerian village burned and father (Ron Perlman) killed. An evil war lord, Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) wants to put together a sacred bone crown to rule the country of Hyboria and Perlman had a piece of the crown. Conan escapes and spends many years wandering until he can find Zym and his equally evil daughter, Marique (Rose McGowan with long, metal fingernails). Father and daughter are seeking a pure maiden to put their plan in action and here comes the maiden, Tamara (Rachel Nichols) who can fight like a man. The rest of the film is capture, escape, capture, escape, ruins collapse, pond has large serpent, and everyone has soiled clothing (or dirt-caked bodies) or they are fighting in such dark places that the audience has difficulty distinguishing one actor from another. All this against a rousing soundtrack by Ken Blackwell.
The special effects are OK, but the backdrops in some scenes look like backdrops. One added touch from Prince of Persia, were warriors created from sand. I did not see this film in 3 D, but you don't have to in order to get the effect of the story. Jason Momoa is a stoic “Conan,” with little emotion and has a tendency to recite his lines. In scenes with Stephen Lang, there is no comparison. Each film has a comic character and here it is the non-stop talking Said Taghmaoui as Ela-Shan, the sidekick. He brightens his scenes. The ladies fare better. Rose McGowan moves through the scenery like a wicked cat with long claws  and Rachel Nichols has a “why me?” look before grabbing a knife and going into battle. Rachel came from a monastery where there must have been 75% battle study and 25% prayer.
All in all, “Conan The Barbarian” is battle-candy for those who like bare-chested men going into battle with heavy swords. There is a lot of shouting and yelling and who knows what it means, but they seem to enjoy it. Wanting to rule their part of the world is nothing new, neither is having a wicked daughter, or in Conan’s case, a father who is a sword-maker. All part of the plot. Director Marcus Nispel pulls the cast and battle scenes together, which, in the end, makes a film, and gives Jason Momoa another name, Conan.
Copyright 2011 Marie Asner