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Conan the Barbarian/2011
There’s not too much to say about this film besides the fact that, whilst not being very good, it’s not terrible either. It’s just mediocre...as we all should have expected it to be, for it is exceedingly difficult to recreate classics! I don’t know what’s wrong with directors, who pursue remake projects, for I’d be afraid to try if I were them! I automatically assume every director is a ‘movie buff’ and therefore should understand what a crime it is to meddle with people’s childhoods. The original Conan holds much nostalgia for me, as I saw it as a kindergartener (yeah, I know...how about my grandpa’s parenting skills, eh! Lol!), and therefore, right from the off, I had my misgivings about this project. Thankfully, it exceeded my expectations–not by much, but still. Hell, I look at it like this–at least it’s not as awful as that moist load of shit, known as “Ghost Rider!” Nor is it anywhere near being atrocious, like the Street Fighter: Chun Li movie was! (Those are what I like to consider my ‘comparison films’ whenever I see anything that is unoriginal and shouldn’t have been made in the first place. As long as a film escapes the previously mentioned category, it gets a pass from me.)
Right from the start this film has three HUGE disadvantages:
The first problem is that it is absolutely impossible to find a musician with the skills to match Basil Poledouris’ original score. Anyone who is even slightly knowledgeable about film knows that the theme to the original Conan film is one of the most timeless pieces of music to ever grace the screen. Its beauty is literally at the same level as that of Star Wars and the Indiana Jones films (no disrespect to the genius, John Williams). I’m not saying that they should have tried to recreate the theme for the new version, as it would not have sounded as good anyway. However, without it, can this really be a Conan film? It was so hard to get that Conan the Barbarian feel without it. I know that’s unfair, as it’s a Catch 22, but still...STRIKE ONE!
The next, and also biggest problem is that, no matter what actor you get to play the antagonist, you will never ever get anyone as good as James Earl Jones–the man who portrayed Darth Vader in the Star Wars films and also Thulsa Doom in the original Conan! Impossible. Not going to happen! STRIKE TWO.
The third critical issue is the fact that the story is so mediocre compared to Oliver Stone’s version for the original. It just can’t compete. I wish they had at least gone back to him and asked Mr. Stone to whip up something. After all, a story is the skeletal frame of a film, and if the beginning stages are weak, you’re setting up the entire film to be so. STRIKE THREE! And because of the less-than-stellar writing, naturally other aspects of the film were affected as well, such as the subordinate characters. They were so ineffective in this film...completely un-formidable! This is a drastic contrast to Subotai and Valeria (from the original film), who were so vicious that they nearly didn’t need Conan. I hate for any character in a story to be pointless. Ela-Shan, Conan’s sidekick in this new version, might as well have not even been in the film, he was so poorly written! He had absolutely nothing to do except tell bad jokes and be corny. There is limited space for humor in a Conan story, and the fact that the screenwriters didn’t understand this should tell you they were only on board for the money and were not true fans of the original. They wrote without respect to the character or the story. Oh well.
In all, just like with all remakes, I think they should have thought better than to make this movie. The addition of special effects, better cinematography, and a bigger budget still couldn’t yield results that measured anywhere near our beloved original. However, even with all of the aforementioned flaws, I assure you all this is not a terrible film...just not great. It’s a mildly entertaining piece of cinema that just happens to be entirely forgettable, that’s all. It’s a solid C/C– film.
(c) Marque Terrynamahr Strickland/2011