Remember when I wrote that Hollywood should stop with the sequels and remakes? Well, I have just found an exception to the rule. Yes, I can admit that I was wrong — a little. In Conan the Barbarian, the latest remake to hit theaters, Jason Momoa (who plays the title character) hams it up as a brute of a man bent on avenging the death of his father, Corin (Ron Perlman minus the chopped off Hellboy horns and red make-up).
Along Conan’s long journey of fighting and women – in order of importance – he comes across the one woman, Tamara (Rachel Nichols), in the world who will lead him to the man who killed his father. That man is Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang, who played the mean military dude from Avatar).
The subplot of this mash-up is that Khalar is looking to complete the ancient broken mask/helmet that will allow him to be immortal and bring back his dead wife. The general scheme of Khalar’s plan is to use his evil witch daughter Marique (Rose McGowan) to help him find what he needs to finish making his mask.
Screenwriters Thomas Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood managed to write a script with intrigue and mystery to complement the 3D action of the film and show that most of man’s power lies within the woman by his side. But I will say that director Marcus Nispel should have considered that some of us audience members would not like to see limbs severed, heads bashed in and misogyny against women in 3D. That’s a little too much high-definition gore, if you ask me.
Please don’t bring your children to this film. Those of you who think that you can just take your kids to this R-rated film and shield their eyes should understand that if you do bring those little kiddies, you’ll be shielding their eyes for most of the film’s 112 minutes. Do yourself a favor and get a baby sitter. It’s probably cheaper than paying for food at the concession stand anyway.
As far as action films go, this Conan not only has a pretty decent plot, if a little convoluted. It also has a lead actor who can actually act. Momoa, a favorite of mine since he appeared in Stargate: Atlantis (and now is in the HBO series Game of Thrones), really has a natural talent for acting. His Conan is brutish and domineering but with a heart of gold and an innate desire to help people — all the trappings for the ultimate hero in a romantic novel.
The best Conan line: “I live. I love. I slay. And I am content.”
Momoa, with his ultra sexy body and brooding, yet down-to-earth presence, has solidified his status as a sex symbol to make women swoon.
Nichols, who, for some reason I thought was Twilight Saga’s Ashley Greene for most of the film, is a pretty good actress. The best part of her character — and the film, in general — is that she has a strong female presence. Nichol’s Tamara is a kind, gentle person but she’s got a lot of fight in her. So much fight, that Conan, himself, can’t help but fall for her and her strength. We need more strong, feminine heroines in action movies.
Now that I have commended Donnelly, Oppenheimer and Hood for writing a strong female lead, I’d like to address my concern for their other strong female lead. McGowan’s Marique is some kind of hybrid sexual deviant with an Elektra complex. Not only is she obviously in desperate need of male attention; she is misogynistic towards women. It’s bad enough we have to deal with the men portrayed in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy (think: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). I don’t want to see women harming other women. It’s just wrong.
Anyway, despite my pick with the three dimensional gore that is sure to make someone throw up and the film’s need to exploit women, I can honestly say I enjoyed most of Conan the Barbarian.
Based on the parts that I watched without covering my eyes (I can be a little squeamish at times), the film has this dark, yet radiant, quality to it. Momoa and Nichols make this film the gore-fest/romantic story that appeals to both men and women. Here’s hoping they can re-create the same magic for the sequel — minus the misogyny.
Kimberly Grant may be reached at KAliciaG@aol.com and www.facebook.com/fashgirl83
Photo by Simon Varsano. Jason Momoa stars as 'Conan' in 'Conan The Barbarian.'