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Movie review: Conon

conan pg 13

Jason Momoa is the 2011 version of Conan the Barbarian in the new Conan laced in 3D and special effects

New Version of ‘Conan’ is Uninspiring

By Maggie Scott

Director Marcus Nispel has a go at a “reboot” of the “mythos” of author Robert E. Howard’s world of Conan the Barbarian—hoping that 3-D CGI effects and the rippling, cleavaged pecs of actor (TV’s “Game of Thrones”)

Jason Momoa will erase embarrassing memories of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the beefy brute of Cimmeria.  Sad to say, Mr. Nispel’s version is embarrassingly uninspiring: The effects are unimaginatively lumbering, the Bulgarian locations are dull and the script is full of such memorably laughable lines as, “The pureblood is close; I can taste her in the air.”

While you can sense Momoa has talent and intelligence, the story doesn’t provide many opportunities for their expression.  Though his nicely sculpted body looks fetching in a series of historically confusing costumes of leather, chainmail and fur, Momoa must deal with the character’s traditional long, stringy hair, whose peek-a-boo properties make him the Veronica Lake of the ancient world.

Valiantly struggling alongside Momoa are Stephen Lang as Conan’s evil nemesis, Khalar Zym; Rose McGowan as Zym’s witch-daughter, Marique; and Rachel Nichols as the “monk” Tamara. While Lang plays his sadism more-or-less straight, McGowan hams it up for all it’s worth; aided and abetted by exotically weird costumes, makeup, hairstyles and steel talon manicures.

Although fetching in face and form, these are de-emphasized in Tamara in favor of an intelligent, strong-willed demeanor conveyed predominantly through Nichols’ eyes.  It is no surprise—considering that everything about the story is a retread—that Tamara will go from verbal sparring with, to fighting side-by-side with, and, finally, rolling in the hay with, Conan.

The woman of peace and the man (“a child born of battle”) of war will unite to thwart the world-dominating dreams of Zym, who has butchered vast legions of people in his quest for a mask that will bestow god-like powers on him after it is filled with the “pure blood” of  Tamara.

Considering that one of the people he butchered was Conan’s father (Ron Perlman), Zym will not have an easy time of it.  Besides the imposing body of Conan, one can expect multiple scenes of hand-to-hand (outfitted with swords, for the most part) , bloody combat, torture (a severed nose socket is probed…close your eyes for that one) and bare breasts in both “slaves” and dancing/pleasure girls.

It is all worth no more than “guilty pleasure” status for fans of the genre, but it does, oddly, make one think about checking out the Schwarzenegger version.  It is rated R for violence, nudity, sexual content.  A Millenium Films production, Lionsgate release.

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