7 September 2011 | richard-s-bellamy
Conan remake that should never have been
Conan the Barbarian is born in war, a product of blood and steel. Thus the film should be a visceral, violent portrayal of a warrior set against the fantasy backdrop of Robert E. Howard's Hyboria. What emerges on screen is a set of one dimensional characters placed in a world that feels half heatedly brought to life.
The film has been accused of being like viewing a video game. I would disagree. The nature of video games, particularly those of the fantasy and RPG genres, is immersion. There is no immersion here. We flit from place to place in a lame attempt to show the vastness of the world through a mediocre CGI backdrop of a castle or slave camp or pirate city. None are ever fully realised before Conan jaunts off somewhere else. The violence itself is the most disappointing. Nispel manages to create fight scenes that lack the kinetic quality of a dance. The camera is misplaced, the editing focusing on the wrong points. You never feel the hits, the power of the blows or Conan's qualities as a warrior. It feels clumsy.
There are more grunts and warcries than lines of dialogue and those spoken feel like the actors are running them in rehearsal for the first time. There is no commitment to the lines so again the audience fails to immerse in their characters. McGowen in contrast overly plays the sorcerer.
Given this is a reboot, the film does not feel fresh, but instead feels dated. It's almost as though Nispel wanted it to feel like the 1982 version, but taking only the worst qualities and none of the charm. Conan reinforces the assertion of refraining from producing reboots where there is nothing original the writers or director bring to the table. Conan is a stale rehash that will offer no reward to its audience.