MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Conan’ needs more story, less effects

If you want to make a “Conan the Barbarian” movie, count me as one ticket sold.
But I hope you do better than the version in theaters now.
Full disclosure: I don’t think anyone will ever make a better big-screen “Conan the Barbarian” than the 1982 film that features Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role. If you’re a fantasy fan and haven’t seen it, I doubt you’re really a fantasy fan.
And please don’t take anything you’ve just read as an endorsement of 1984’s “Conan the Destroyer.” The least said about that one, the better.
Here’s the basic story for both the 1982 and 2011 versions of “Conan the Barbarian:” As a child, Conan’s village is destroyed and his family killed. He vows revenge and eventually tracks down the guy who led the invading force. A battle ensues.
The difference is the special effects budget. Lacking today’s computer technology, the 1982 cast and crew had to rely on storytelling.
The 2011 version plays like one exciting action sequence after another. To be fair, I was caught up in the battles, especially the pulse-pounding fight between a young Conan (Leo Howard) and a raiding party.
There are interesting moments after Jason Momoa assumes the Conan role, but they’re held together by a thin narrative thread. It’s a handicap that even Morgan Freeman’s formidable voice-over talents can’t overcome.
I didn’t hate the 2011 version. Tantalizing bits of quality are sprinkled throughout. If the filmmakers want to make a sequel, I’ll be there to see what they come up with.
But if you’re interested in watching a barbarian seek bloody revenge against a sorcerer king, I recommend a DVD copy of the original film, which was directed by John Milius and features James Earl Jones and Max von Sydow.
I give “Conan the Barbarian” (2011) a C minus.
It’s showing at the Cinemark in Tupelo, as well as Malcos in Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, and Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.

Wizard Review
Kelli Karlson Wizard 106.7 She gives “Conan the Barbarian” a D. “Go see ‘Cowboys and Aliens.”

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

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