Film Review: Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Release Date: August 11th, 2011 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Marcus Nispel
Written by: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, Sean Hood
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard
Music by: Tyler Bates
Cast: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Saïd Taghmaoui, Leo Howard, Bob Sapp, Ron Perlman, Nathan Jones, Morgan Freeman (narrator)

Lionsgate, Millennium Films, Cinema Vehicle Services, 113 Minutes

Review:

“I live, I love, I slay, and I am content.” – Conan

I put off watching this for a really long time. But finally, after nine years of ignoring this movie, I said, “fuck it!” and fired it up because it was free on Prime Video and because I’m a hardcore fan of the Conan franchise. Also, I believe that this is the only film based off of Robert E. Howard’s literary work that I hadn’t seen.

It’s actually not as bad as people led me to believe but it is far from a good movie and it’s honestly, really fucking boring.

Jason Momoa was a decent choice for the role of Conan but I feel like he was chosen a few years too early, as he hadn’t reached the level of fame that he has now and because he hadn’t developed more as an actor. He’s got some of his charm here but it is nowhere near as much as it was in 2018’s Aquaman.

That being said, if they made a Conan movie with him now, I’m pretty sure it would do really well. And hopefully, it would be better than this was, as it didn’t seem to understand what it needed to be to be successful.

The main issue with this movie is it doesn’t feel larger than life. It relies so heavily on CGI and green screen that it lacks the scope and scale the Schwarzenegger Conan movies had. Hell, 1985’s Red Sonja looks much more grandiose than this digital cartoon that looks more like a syndicated television show than a blockbuster movie featuring one of the biggest and greatest literary and comic book heroes of all-time.

Adding to that problem, Conan only really tangles with one monster in this movie. Now it doesn’t need to be overflowing with mythic beasts but it should take more cues from the books and comics, which saw Conan come face to face with big creatures a lot more often than he does in this picture.

Now I did like the casting of Rachel Nichols as the female love interest of Conan and I thought that Nichols and Momoa had pretty good chemistry but overall, they didn’t get much to work with between the mundane script and uninspiring story.

On the other side of the coin, the villains felt completely wasted.

I just wasn’t feeling Rose McGowan as the witch character and her performance here borderlined on cringe, which I found surprising as she is typically pretty good. But I think that the script failed her, as did the overall look of the character.

As far as Stephen Lang goes, how do you take the guy that stole the show and was really the only good thing about Avatar, and make him so lame and generic? Who the fuck was this guy? Why the fuck should I care? He just looks like a boss from the second level of a side scrolling beat’em up game from the ’80s.

I also thought the mask was stupid and they could’ve come up with a much better MacGuffin than that. I mean, there are countless books and comics to pull material from and you basically come up with Gran Naniwa’s crab mask? For those that don’t know, he was a goofy comedy wrestler from Japan in the ’90s: Google that fucker. Side note: he was actually really entertaining, unlike this movie.

Conan the Barbarian was hard to get through. I wanted to turn it off just about every three minutes. I had to watch it in spurts of twenty-to-thirty minutes because it was dreadfully slow, terribly lame and didn’t feel as badass as something with the Conan name on it should.

But I am definitely not against giving Jason Momoa another shot as the character. The studio just needs to get their shit together and give fans something worthy of the Conan brand.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: other modern sword and sorcery films.

Film Review: Boar (2017)

Release Date: November 23rd, 2017 (Monster Fest – Melbourne, Australia premiere)
Directed by: Chris Sun
Written by: Kristy Dallas, Chris Sun
Music by: Mark Smythe
Cast: Nathan Jones, John Jarratt, Melissa Tkautz, Bill Moseley

Slaughter FX, OZPIX Entertainment, 96 Minutes

Review:

While this isn’t a remake of the 1984 Australian film Razorback, this flick was also made in Australia and features a killer, man eating boar. And man, this beast is f’n gigantic, which just makes this a blast for those of us who love killer animal movies.

Overall, this picture isn’t terribly exciting but it really gets the juices flowing when the boar is actually onscreen.

While I really like this creature and the overall execution of how it works within the movie, the effects are a mixed bag and they switch from practical effects and CGI quite often, depending on the shot that’s needed. Some of the CGI is weak but most of the CGI moments happen really quick.

There isn’t much of a story here but who cares? There’s just some people wandering around the Australian wilderness, getting picked off one by one by this feral beast.

Its the attacks and the scale of the monster that really make the film work though. Just seeing this creature running around with someone stuck in its mouth is a sight to behold.

And while some effects aren’t up to par, this is lightyears better that a Syfy movie.

I don’t feel like the world has been given enough Australian horror and that continent needs to keep pumping out scary movies. Besides, even if it’s been three decades, all of Australian still has to repent for Howling III: The Marsupials.

Also, we just need more killer boar movies. And I’d certainly be game for Boar 2: Boar Harder.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other killer animal movies but most notably 1984’s Razorback.

Film Review: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Release Date: May 7th, 2015 (TCL Chinese Theatre premiere)
Directed by: George Miller
Written by: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris
Music by: Junkie XL
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, Nathan Jones

Village Roadshow Pictures, Kennedy Miller Mitchell, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures, 120 Minutes

Review:

*originally written in 2015.

This film is difficult to review.

I mean, being a lifelong avid film buff, I can only compare the task of reviewing this film to some crazed Evangelical Christian having to write a review of the Bible. Can a film be perfect? It is very fucking rare. Was this perfect? It is as close as anything I have seen in a very long time. This could honestly be the best film of this decade. It is certainly the best summer blockbuster film of this decade.

You see, the original Mad Max trilogy is an amazing thing. Those films are all great in their own way. Mel Gibson was prefect. But this film is something else entirely.

This is an homage to the original three films, a sort of reboot/sequel but ultimately, its own thing and a perfect amalgamation of all the things that made each of the original movies great on their own. It also offers up its own powerful ideas and vision and takes things further than any of the previous films could go, whether due to budget or because this film took George Miller decades to make. Having had three great films in this series, as templates and as trial and error efforts, this film took Miller’s life’s work and his direction and showed us what is possible if an artist is able to truly make the masterpiece they have intended all along. Balls to the wall, all out, motherfucking mayhem.

If this hasn’t set the bar higher in Hollywood, well.. fuck Hollywood.

Mad Max: Fury Road has proven that you can have an R-rated blockbuster and not have to cater to seemingly mindless PG-13 audiences. Also, the theater wasn’t full of a bunch of yapping kids muffled by Iron Man masks.

This is the big film that men have wanted since film became a neutered art form. This reminds me of all the things that made the original Robocop and the R-rated Schwarzenegger and Stallone films of the 80s so great. It had more testosterone than the last twenty minutes of Death Wish 3 after it pounded a few bottles of low-t medication and jacked off with a porterhouse in hand. This is a manly man’s film, through and through. It is high art in cinematic form for every man’s inner Neanderthal. It is like a Chuck Norris fist to the balls where the fist’s fingers are made up of little Bruce Lees. It made me sprout hair in places I didn’t know it could grow.

Tom Hardy was pretty damned good as the new Max Rockatansky. I will always feel that it is Mel Gibson’s role but the legacy is in perfectly capable hands going forward. Charlize Theron may have been her greatest in this film. She also had more lines and was more central to the plot than Max was. It is almost as if this was her movie and Max was along for the ride. But isn’t that Max’s modus operandi? He wanders around, stumbles upon some shit, rides the lightning and then wanders off again.

The use of colors and design in this film were amazing. The costumes were top notch, the set design was marvelous and this post-apocalyptic world that I got to traverse through with our heroes, was colorful and refreshingly vivid for being in the middle of such a desolate and bleak environment.

I actually don’t want to delve into too many details with this review because I think everyone should go see this movie. If, for some bizarre ass reason, you don’t find this film to be a tour de force of blazing machine gun testicles, something is seriously wrong with you. This film features enough bad ass action and intensity to satisfy any man and enough tough as nails female characters to inspire any woman.

Looking at what else is supposed to come out this summer, the rest of this blockbuster season is going to suck. Nothing will top this. In fact, Mad Max: Fury Road just magnifies all the things wrong with Avengers: Age of Ultron and every other big budget film I’ve seen in recent memory.

I may just go see this film again and again, every weekend it is still in theaters.

Rating: 9.5/10