Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 156 - Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Conan The Barbarian (1982) directed by John Milius

"Run! Go! Get to the chopper!"

For those who don't know the reference, I highly suggest checking out Aires Spears's Arnold impressions on Youtube. Classic stuff.

When I was little I used to rush home after school to watch afternoon cartoons which included Conan the Adventurer. I imagine I'm not alone in saying that I was a fan of the sword and sorcery genre. They were fun and exciting with a strong hero every kid wanted to be. So it was much to my delight to stumble upon this classic Arnold flick figuring it'd appeal to my inner child. Plus it'd be fun to watch him in his breakout role and get in a few unintentional laughs. Going into Conan, I already had a B/B- in mind. It's a classic action fantasy adventure starring Arnold so it should be a fun watch right? I never realized just how tedious the genre could be.

I suppose the main problem with this film, and many other films of the genre, is that once you get past the beginning that sets up the plot, it just becomes a series of unrelated adventures that don't really add any momentum to the story. Conan travels here and fights these guys, which leads him to go to this place to fight those guys and so forth. All the while, the central plot is sort of set aside and you lose focus on Conan's quest for revenge which was established in the very beginning of the film. By the time he finally confronts Thulsa Doom, the impact of the encounter is greatly diminished. Yeah, yeah I know. It's supposed to be about watching Arnold flex his muscles and swing his sword, but the action sequences end up being less interesting without anything meaningful to tie them together. I've seen a bazillion movie sword fights in my day, and the ones in Conan aren't all that memorable, so it's got to offer me something a little bit more to keep my attention. What Conan ends up being is a pretty generic and mundane experience with mediocre action sequences that don't amount to anything.

But there is of course Arnold which is why you're really watching this movie in the first place. The first sounds he makes in the film are a series of guttural grunts that had me laughing. I wonder how you'd spell out these sounds phonically. I suppose it'd be something like, "Ge-ow-ahhh-ungh! Gnaaaah-uhhh-yeow-yee-owwwww!" (I was seriously trying.) There is a scene where he punches a camel in the face. But other than that, there isn't much to laugh about. Arnold and this film takes itself entirely too seriously. One of Arnold's best traits is his subtle humor in his roles which is surprisingly lacking here. Naturally he doesn't have many lines of dialogue here. In most of Arnold's movies the dialogue is usually propped up by his supporting cast. Unfortunately they may be even worse than he is (aside from James Earl Jones as Thulsa Doom).

Anyways, I had high hopes going in and really wanted to enjoy anything out of the movie, but it just wouldn't let me. I wouldn't say Conan the Barbarian is particularly bad, it just doesn't do anything good at all. It's just really mediocre.

Grade: C

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