Ten Word or Less Review: Swords? Check. Sandles? Check. Screenplay? Oops.
Conan the Barbarian (2011) – It took 27 years to get a Conan movie to the screen. Say that out loud. 27 years. Reagan was just entering his second term as President when Conan the Destroyer bombed. After Ahnuld’s disastrous sequel to Conan the Barbarian, the rights to the franchise bounced from one group to the next. Everyone from The Wachowski’s to Brett Ratner tried to get another movie up and running. What did 27 years of false starts and dead ends get Robert E Howard fans? A totally forgettable action movie that leaves your head 5 minutes after its over. New Conan Jason Mamoa would have made a great Conan, he has the insane pecs the part demands and even has some personality, but he’s saddled to a movie no one could ever give a fart about. It starts well enough, battle scene C-section birth scene!, but before long everything has turned generic and paint by numbers. Hack director Marcus Nispel (Pathfinder) should have been a sign to all that nothing special was going to happen here. You couldn’t provoke the guy to do something exciting or invigorating if you put a knife to his mothers throat and threatened to do her in while he watched.
Immortals (2011) – It’s pretty much the same thing as those goofy, bombastic Titans movies, except director Tarsem Singh is a meticulous stylist who channels his opulent visions onto the screen in a whirlwind of dazzling, but soulless, grandeur. He also embraces the feared R-rating that keeps the coveted 14-17 year old, blood thirsty boy out of the theater. Billions of pixels of CGI blood fly across the screen with such enthusiasm it’s practically fetishistic. But all the labor is spent on the look and there’s never a thing to engage anyone on an emotional or story level. It has something to do with a magical bow and arrow that Mickey Rourke keeps mumbling about. Newcomer Henry Clavill has the chiseled, square jawed look and physicality of a leading man and he may make a fine Superman come next summer, but no one could stand up to the overpoweringly inane cliches Immortals works itself into. Battle scenes, wise mentors, rousing speeches to armies, revenge for a dead parent, blah, blah, blah. You’ve seen it all before. Except maybe the scene involving crushed testicles. You don’t see that behind every curtain. Thank God. Those who thought it looked like 300 Part 2 are pretty much on the nose. If that movie got your jollies rocking then Immortals will work as a similarly flavored follow up. If you thought 300 was goofy, ab obsessed, macho movie whackery, then prepare for another heaping dose of slow motion spears flying through peoples guts.