‘Conan’ gleams under all the blood
Todd Miller | Collegio Reporter
I’ll be straightforward about this; this movie is violent. Sure, there are lots of movies around with characters dying, but this film holds nothing back. So if you love gore, then “Conan the Barbarian” is a treat.
Despite all this savagery, the movie comes together so … believably. Sure, there were times where I felt a little sick at what I saw, but never once did I think it was overdone.
The film’s writers did a great job of constructing an authentic world and characters. If they had inhibited themselves, the movie just wouldn’t have seemed complete.
It’s easy to put together a film with lots of violence and gore, but it takes some effort to do it well, and the creators of “Conan” hit that mark.
As believable as all that part of the film is, though, it doesn’t seem as if the actors applied the same authenticity to their roles. It’s jarring to see a real-looking world and people (the costumers and make-up artists did fantastically well, I’ll add), but many of the characters just felt fake. Flat characters in a beautiful, full world.
That and their teeth. Every detail of the world seemed real enough, but all the human characters have pearly-white teeth, which is distracting.
Of course, such a fine focus on the fight scenes, which make up about 80 percent of the movie, had caused other parts to suffer. The plot appears to be little else than a reason to tie the fights together.
Basically, the warlord and land invader Khalar Zym, played by Stephen Lang, is seeking to revive an ancient necromantic mask so that he can revive his sorceress wife and gain the powers of a god. Of course, this is a decent part of the plot, and Lang does a fantastic job playing the villain. Conan, however, could care less about Zym’s wish to revive the d
ead and rule the land; he’s just after him because Zym killed his father. The evil mask of the undead seems nearly arbitrary, and Zym could’ve had any evil goal or been anybody
The romantic plot between Conan and Tamara, played by Rachel Nichols, also seems forced. Really, what little there was of it just seemed like an excuse to let the two characters have sex. It’s one thing to do that, but the whole thing probably would have worked better without this stagey romance.
Another character-based folly is Conan’s two, for lack of a better word, sidekicks. However, of the two, the film focuses on only one, and it’s not the good one. The first is Artus, played by Nonso Anozie, who is a pirate from Zamora, an area in the Conan mythos based somewhat on Spain or Italy (though his accent seems to suggest somewhere around the Caribbean). Artus was interesting and a great character who had a history with Conan. However, he gets few scenes, and is only plot-relevant in owning the boat Conan uses to get around in.
The character we see more of, though, is the thief Ela-Shan, played by Saïd Taghmaoui, who is bumbling, annoying, useless and nearly impossible to understand. Sure he offers some comedic relief in an otherwise serious film, but the character just feels like baggage. Annoying baggage.
The only real complaint I have left is that everything has a noise. Every weapon makes some variation on the sound, “tzing!” And nearly every death is accompanied by absurdly audible squishing noises. It’s OK for a little bit early in the film, but it eventually just becomes tiresome.
Despite these complaints, the movie is good. If you can put up with a lot of blood and violence, “Conan” is worth seeing. If only because of how nice everything looks (scenery, costumes, etc) when it’s not covered in blood.