the 1980's, the sword and sorcery genre was extremely popular and the
cinemas and video stores (yes... video tapes) were inundated with these
releases. These stories contained epic battles between good versus evil
and also a healthy (or perhaps unhealthy) dose of beefcake and
cheesecake with some men and women wearing not much at all.
movies that came out of this period was Conan the Barbarian and
Conan the Destroyer, both starring the former governorator of the
California, Arnold Schwarzenegger which were extremely faithful
to the original books by Robert E. Howard.
Although the first movie was far superior, the subsequent sequel became
a little more comedic which would soon be the end of an era. We won't go
into what happened to this genre when The Legendary Journey of
Hercules or Xena Warrior Princess aired on TV but suffice to
say, both these series were inspired by the original Conan movies.
(Okay... these two series were damn cool when I was kid but something
did happen to this genre)
Fortunately with films such as The Lord of the Rings and Beowulf, the
fantasy genre has made a serious comeback and director Marcus Nispel has
rebooted the Conan franchise much like J.J. Abrams Star Trek. Starring
Jason Momoa, Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan, Rachel Nichols and Stephen Lang,
Conan the Barbarian 3D is not only a homage to an earlier genre but
Nispel successfully moves this genre into the 21st century, especially
with the inclusion of some very impressive special effects and the
gimmicky 3D touch.
Conan the Barbarian 3D, Jason Momoa (Star Gate Atlantis and The Game of
Thrones) is transformed into the perfect Conan. It does help that he
looks like a beefcake and thankfully like a Barbarian. Fortunately he
limits the channelling of his inner Schwarzenegger and as a results,
creates his very own version of the rather stoic and silent Cimmerian
story is clichéd. Personal vendetta turns into a grudge against an
ancient evil and before you know it, Conan is saving the world. The
result of this rather predictable yet clichéd story may not win any
Academy Awards but it definitely delivers a mindless action adventure
that will definitely appease the male market. Violence and sex... that
pretty much sums up Conan the Barbarian 3D. However there is a charm
behind Momoa as Conan and when you started rooting for the hero, you
know that the story has you hook, line and sinker.
Video & Audio
Visually, Conan the Barbarian 3D is definitely a popcorn movie and
Nispel excels at creating an eye candy extravaganza with its over the
top battles and surreal environments. The film is quite gritty and
violent and given that a Barbarian is the main character, this is
relation to 3D, the film is rather flat and this may be a result that
the movie was not filmed in native 3D. There are times when certain
scenes do jump out at you, especially with the battles or when something
comes at you but because the film is so dark and gloomy, the 3D is a
little lacklustre. The video quality does look sharp, especially the 2D
version and all the blacks are muted colours work well with the earthy
colours of this presentation.
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix definitely works well with this film. The
whole movie has this booming feel to it, especially when the battles
commence which makes perfect use of the surround sound system and from
the first battle, you know that your ears are in for a treat. Even the
background ambience works well from the subtle sounds of nature or a
swordsman slowly unsheathing his weapon, it comes together well with the
story. Dialogue is also clear and in general, the sound levels of this
movie are perfect as is the majestical soundtrack of the movie.
For fans of the movie or the character Conan, there is a wealth of
special features included for the viewer. My favourite feature is the
documentary entitled The Conan Legacy which revolves around the comeback
of Conan for modern audiences and is quite insightful. We also have
another featurette called Robert E. Howard: The Man Who Would Be Conan
that is a short documentary behind Conan's creator, Battle Royal:
Engineering the Action goes behind the scenes of the film and how some
of the action scenes were created and finally Staging the Fights which
further adds to the creation of the epic battles in the film.
Conan the Barbarian 3D is a fun and mindless action movie that
successfully moves this character to the 21st century and Momoa makes
the perfect Barbarian. The story is definitely cliché and quite over the
top but this is what Conan is all about and the only slight letdown for
this release is that the 3D is a little flat and uninspired. Even so,
it's good to see another film from the sword and sorcery genre and
here's hoping that we will see a Conan 2.