Thursday, September 27, 2012

Conan the Barbarian

The reviews for the new Conan movie have been mixed, skewing toward poor, but I’m willing to overlook a wide variety of sins if I think it’s entertaining. With that in mind I sat down to watch it. I did bring a couple of minis and some paints, because even if it was bad, I could still make productive use of the time.

Conan, a barbarian boy from Cimmeria sees his entire village wiped out by an unnamed bandit/slaver, his band of characterful baddies, and his creepy witch daughter. They’re searching for the last piece of a mystical mask which will make the wearer into a god, which they find. Years later Conan (Jason Momoa) is a pirate mercenary, and the raider, now king, attacks a secluded temple, looking for the last pureblood descendant of the creator of the mask, Tamara (Rachel Nichols). She escapes, meets up with Conan, and one by one Conan defeats the king’s henchmen. Conan then fights the king, his daughter (Rose McGowan), and the sand creatures she summons, gets poisoned, and escapes with the Tamara back to the pirate ship. The ship is attacked by the king’s ninjas, but they are repelled with only a necessary loss of life among the pirates. Tamara decides that she needs to go into hiding. She and Conan return to land, have sex in a cave, and then she sneaks off, to predictable results. Conan then has to save her in the ruins/dungeon of an old temple built over a chasm. Big fight, Conan eventually kills the witch daughter and then the king, and saves Tamara. Conan then returns Tamara to the secluded temple.

As many other reviews have said, this is not Robert E. Howard’s Conan of Cimmeria, it’s Hollywood’s Conan of Cinema. As long as you can accept the fact that Hollywood chose to almost completely ignore all of the fantastic Conan stories written by his creator, and see this movie as merely what it is (a sword and sandal popcorn movie) it wasn’t entirely awful, and was even entertaining.

Jason Momoa played a decent Conan, though I got the feeling that he was hampered by the script. I was pleasantly surprised that Tamara wasn’t just a passive female, but actually was willing to take action and fight. Having her walk off and get captured almost immediately after... again this was more a problem with the script writers than the character.

The king’s henchman were all flat characters, sadly, and aside from giving Conan something to do on his way to fighting the king, really could have used more development. The king was completely obsessed with getting the mask, and using it’s power to become a god and bring his dead wife back. Better than his minions, but not great. The king’s witch daughter was actually interesting, if creepy in an incestuous way.

The scenery felt mostly uninspired, at least until the end. The ruined temple was actually really cool looking!

Gaming Ideas:
Sand Soldiers
Mask of Acheron


  1. I actually stopped watching halfway through as I felt it was just that bad. I agree with your take on Momoa though. In a better movie with a better script he'd make a decent Conan.

  2. I would have preferred Dwayne Johnson in the role.

    As for Howard, there were two things "Howard" in this movie: The name "Conan" and the Mask. The problem with the Mask is that it is found in Howard's histories of Conan's world and existed a couple of thousand years before Conan's time. Conan's people (distant ancestors) were "involved" with the Mask, but not Conan or his father.

    Momoa's Game of Thrones and Star Gate parts didn't thrill me either. I just don't care for his acting.