‘Conan’ flick doesn’t thrill

by David Dixon

“Conan the Barbarian,” the latest epic in the summer of action movies, leaves fans disappointed. Courtesy of Guy Roland and Lionsgate
“Conan the Barbarian,” the latest epic in the summer of action movies, leaves fans disappointed. Courtesy of Guy Roland and Lionsgate

If audiences enter the theater 10 minutes late and decide to leave 10 minutes before the end of the new adaptation of “Conan the Barbarian,” they might be satisfied with what they see on screen. However, for those who watch the entire picture, the overall reaction will be mixed at best.

The opening scenes feature the most ridiculous and overly complicated exposition since “Green Lantern.” The dialogue is difficult to follow and so much needless information is given that fans may need to watch the introductory sequences more than once in order to understand the narration. Just as annoying is the presentation’s peculiar and downright confusing conclusion.

Another issue is that the mighty warrior Conan (Jason Momoa) is inconsistent in his decision making, for his choices don’t always follow the logic of preceding events. The ending is also anticlimactic, with hints of a sequel that could be made some time in the near future. Unfortunately, there is not much at stake for the audience to be concerned with in the final few moments.

Yet, for all the critical comments that can be said about these 20 minutes of screen time, many positive qualities are displayed in the remaining 90-plus minutes. The action is gleefully brutal, particularly in the first half. There are buckets of blood and gore for the men and women who enjoy hardcore action. No matter how ugly the adventure gets, there is a surprising amount of entertainment in seeing Conan battle the evil characters who are responsible for the slaughter of his people.

Momoa makes for a compelling hero who consistently fights bad guys while maintaining his wit with the help of Momoa’s captivating portrayal. When the big action climax arrives, audience members will likely root for Conan to succeed and complete his lifelong mission for revenge.

Yes, “Conan” is never boring and does have more than its share of engaging material, but it is surprising how much credibility is lost in the sequences that should matter most. A movie does not always have to open and end with a bang, but it should have some kind of immediate hook and conclude with a satisfying finale, even if it is an existential and open-ended one.

There is a good chance die-hard fans of the original Robert E. Howard stories will be disengaged from this flick. Casual devotees of sword and sorcery epics, on the other hand, might enjoy themselves if they are looking for escapism on a hot summer day. Everyone else would be better off reading previous “Conan” journeys or checking out the Emmy nominated HBO series “Game of Thrones,” which features Momoa.

A final piece of advice: Watch the original Arnold Schwarzenegger film and then check out “Conan the Barbarian: The Musical” on YouTube. The Internet short is not only hilarious and catchy, but is also a perfect way to cure irritated and conflicting emotions that are sure to be stirred up from the new big screen saga.

Information about “Conan the Barbarian” can be found on conanthebarbarianin3d.com.

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