Bad cinema can be good in limited doses

Took a day off from the apartment search today and decided to take advantage of my current unemployment to see a weekday matinee, one of my most favourite things to do. Alas, being the dog days of summer there wasn’t much to choose from at the local cinema, so I ended up watching the new Conan the Barbarian remake.

Perhaps because I had such low expectations — especially after the initial teaser — I didn’t actually think it was all bad. Jason Momoa did a decent job in the titular role as the Cimmerian barbarian. I wasn’t the biggest fan of him in A Game of Thrones as Khal Drogo, even though I’m a big fan of the show (and books!). But with a little more dialogue and less eye khol, he did an alright job. Moma’s certainly more athletic than Arnie and the fight/actual scenes do okay.

This movie is supposed to be a little more true to the Robert E. Howard originals than the Schwarzenegger efforts, Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer. I thought it was definitely better then Destroyer and wasn’t quite at the level original — mostly because Stephan Lang is no James Earl Jones. Ron Perlman did his standard fantasy/action adventure portrayal as Conan’s father, Corin. I thought Rose McGowan was a bit much as the female antagonist and Rachel Nichols was just meh as Conan’s love  interest. But really, no one has much to work with.

While not a strict remake of John Milius’ effort, it was an origins story that trod much of the same material. Darkhorizons lists its budget at $100m and with a $10m opening weekend, I think it unlikely to have a sequel greenlit. Production values were actually not too bad — lack of marquee names and shooting in Bulgaria have benefits — but I wish they’d gone with something more original in attempting to re-boot this series. Maybe that’s because I want to see Milius bring Conan back to the screen and show how, “In time he became king by his own hand…” The 3D was alright I guess; I’m not really a fan of the technology and don’t think I’ve ever really enjoyed it outside of an IMAX space documentary.

Overall, not a film I wanted to see or a DVD I’d purchase but it did a decent job of killing a few hours on a summer afternoon, so mission accomplished. That said, to cleanse my film palate I watched the elegant Audrey Tautou in Coco avant Chanel this evening — a movie I’d highly recommend if you’ve never seen it.


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