Conan the Generic

AVOID: Conan the Barbarian (2011) – Rated R for strong bloody violence, some sexuality and nudity.

The wife and I went to see the new Conan the Barbarian and felt it was not worth what we paid. We had (sort of) FREE tickets from a couple Blu-Rays at Best Buy (Highlander and Kill Bill vol.1). For some odd reason the FREE ticket is only valid for $7.50. Does anyone have a theater where the evening adult price is $7.50 or less?

I was glad to see that the movie was rated R as Conan should have plenty of violence. Unfortunately much of the R rating was for the ridiculous looking CGI blood.

The most egregious fault was the utterly generic script that hit every single cliche we could think of except for what we thought would be the final shot for the movie. The script also vacillates between being a Conan script and being a generic fantasy script so the tone is uneven.

It seems that one of the three writers knew who Conan was and snuck in a few Conan moments here and there. Still he often must have been overruled as Conan at one point drops the revenge he has been living his whole life for in order to save someone in distress.

I understand that Conan is no rocket surgeon but the script makes him out to be a complete moron. He is orphaned and then raised by another warrior. The warrior offers his aid in revenge but Conan rejects it stating that he must do this alone. Later you have essentially the same scenario, only Conan now has a ship full of people at his disposal. Sure enough he has to go it alone again.

Later still Conan accepts the help of a thief to break into a city because Conan is apparently incapable of opening doors but the trip is completely moot as he then just leaves, leaving the thief behind as he must do this alone.

In the climactic battle sequence, the entire area is shaking and falling apart (a la the opening temple in Raiders of the Lost Ark) until the battle sequence. At that point everything stops falling apart. After the battle sequence, everything starts falling apart again until the next battle sequence. This is repeated ad nauseum for no discernible reason.

Jason Momoa is okay as Conan (my wife liked his butt and abs). Rose McGowan, who I liked in Scream and Grindhouse, is actually pretty bad here as Marique and Stephen Lang fails to make an impression as Khalar Zym, which should have been a juicy role. Ron Perlman mostly just growls his way through the clunky dialogue.

I could go on but the goofs and gaffes are not bad enough to make the film funny – just annoying. Well at least my wife enjoyed the popcorn.


R.I.P. Jimmy Sangster 1927-2011

Auugh! After getting started back after a long hiatus, our website got hijacked by spammers. It has taken us awhile to get it back on track as we are computer-comfortable but apparently not web-savvy (or not web-savvy enough at any rate).

Sadly back on August 19th,  Hammer icon Jimmy Sangster passed away. While much of the success of Hammer films may be credited to stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, Jimmy Sangster penned many of the snappy scripts they read from. Unfortunately none of his films are currently available on instant Netflix.

His first full-length screenplay was the wonderful pre-Blob gelatinous monster movie X – The Unknown. Modeled after the success of The Quatermass Xperiment (by Nigel Kneale), this is a Quatermass movie in all but name.

After the rousing success of The Quatermass Xperiment (The Creeping Unknown here), X the Unknown, and Quatermass II (Enemy from Space), Hammer executives decided to splurge on color gothic remakes of the classic Universal canon. Jimmy Sangster penned The Curse of Frankenstein, The Horror of Dracula, The Mummy and the first few sequels (Revenge of Frankenstein, Brides of Dracula, Dracula, Prince of Darkness).

Sangster seemed most at home in the thriller with a twist genre. Sadly these do not hold up well as the twists have since been done to death. Sangster wrote the stories and/or screenplays for The Snorkel, Scream of Fear, Paranoiac, Maniac, Nightmare, and the Bette Davis-vehicles The Nanny and The Anniversary.

The only Sangster title I was able to spot on instant Netflix was the Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode Horror in the Heights. It is not a particularly good representation of his work but allows me to plug the good cheesy fun that is Kolchak.