Friday, August 26, 2011

Conan the Underwhelming

I was all set to review Marcus Nispel's Conan the Barbarian reboot, which opened last Friday, but it flamed out so spectacularly in its debut frame -- opening in a dismal fourth place with a lousy $10 mil -- that I figured by the time I got my write-up posted the movie itself would already be forgotten. I'll hold off on the full analysis for now and may come back to it at some point, but the short version is that I'm not especially surprised the movie disappointed, though I am a bit surprised at how badly it belly-flopped.

All told, it's a reasonably competent effort that's probably a cut above most recent sword-and-sorcery flicks, though that may be less a recommendation for Conan than it is a condemnation of the genre it occupies. Star Jason Momoa (whose selection I approved of from the beginning) made for a better fit in the role than the iconic Arnold Schwarzenegger take, and I wouldn't have minded seeing him revisit it down the line. Unfortunately, there were just too many pieces around him that didn't work the way they should have, from the direction to some of the supporting cast, and yep, Tyler Bates' musical score is every bit as bad as I'd feared.

We'll see if I can be bothered to say more about the flick when the home video window rolls around (which, based on the box office, might happen in like a week-and-a-half), but one interesting thing to come out of it falling so far short of its mark at the turnstile is this reflection by screenwriter Sean Hood on what it's like to see the project you've slaved over for months and months die so ignominiously right in front of your eyes. I can't imagine it's an easy thing to go through, but Hood's essay provides a welcome insight into the experience, which he describes as being akin to a political campaign. Well worth a read!

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