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Offline Ninja_Khorin

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'Review a movie' - thread
« on: October 19, 2013, 01:04:06 AM »
+13
(click to show/hide)

Conan the Barbarian (1982) - Movie Review by Khorin (includes spoilers)

“Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!”


Plot:

The plot of the movie centers on the barbarian archetype Conan the Cimmerian. Cimmerian’s are a warrior people that live far to the north of where the majority of the movie takes place.

In the introduction we are introduced to the young Conan and his tribe and family. His father tells him of the Enigma of Steel, a.k.a. the riddle of steel. When doing this he is referring to how man found the mastery of steel after a great battle between the gods, led by Crom(the god of the Cimmerians that lives under a mountain), and giants. Soon after this Conan’s entire tribe is killed by a group of men wielding a banner with twin serpents. Conan himself is sold to slavery were he spends his entire teenage years and early adulthood doing slave labor that hardens his muscles.

After this he is sold yet again to a group of men looking for a new fighter for their arena. Conan, strong as he is, survives better than expected and is rewarded with advanced combat training by his masters.

Conan eventually escapes and finds an ancient tomb with a throne upon which rests a skeleton clutching a sword. Conan refers to the skeleton as Crom and takes the sword. After this Conan earns plenty of riches through adventure while at the same time trying to find the men who murdered his tribe. He eventually tracks down the men to a cult that uses the very same banner and is given a quest by a king to rescue the king’s daughter that has been seduced by the cultists. His friend Subotai and his love Valeria consider it too dangerous, but Conan driven by the need to avenge his tribe leaves alone in the night.

During his attempt to rescue the daughter and find information on the murderers, Conan meets Thulsa Doom, the leader of the snake cult. In a memorable scene, Thulsa Doom and Conan(who is badly wounded) share this great dialogue:

(click to show/hide)

Conan is eventually joined by his friends again and by a new character referred to only as the Wizard and together they eventually take down the cult and rescue the king’s daughter. Valeria, on the other hand, dies in the attempt. The scene where the leader of the cult is killed is hauntingly good. Thulsa Doom attempts to convince Conan not to kill him, using his powers of persuasion the same way he had charmed all his followers. Conan does not fall under his spell and kills him, proving that Thulsa’s understanding of the riddle of steel was not enough to stop Conan. The cultists who consider him a god see his head get cut off and thrown down the stairs. Realizing how wrong they were all the cultists leave quietly grieving and ashamed.

Here is the final scene:
(click to show/hide)

Visuals:

The filming is great and throughout the movie it feels like a true high-budget movie, especially if you watch the Blu-ray version. You can barely tell it’s filmed in the 80s.

The graphical effects for the most part hold up incredibly well, considering the movies age. There is only scene that I can think of where the special effects are a tad odd, and that’s the scene where spirits are trying to steal Conan’s soul. Otherwise, the magic in the movie is actually incredibly low-key, to the movie’s credit. There are no fireball-hurling wizards here. Conan’s friend, the wizard primarily performs only ritualistic magic, while Thulsa Doom does simple things like turning a snake to a poisonous arrow.

The costume design of the movie is also top notch quality, though the style might seem extremely 80s to some. However, this style was already set partly in place in the Conan art designs and was after Conan the Barbarian copied a lot. Conan is still to this day, the quintessential Barbarian. Personally, I really enjoy the costumes, they’re really metal, except maybe for a few goofy helmets, but even those I whole-heartedly accept.

The fighting scenes are for the most part well-choreographed and are most enjoyable to watch. The scenery in this movie is also beautiful and it really gives the movie a sense of scale and wonder along with the, for the most part well thought out sets.

Audio:

The soundtrack of this movie is in my opinion one of the best ever created. It sets the tone perfectly for “high adventure”. It is a great orchestral score created by Basil Poledouris.

Acting:

The acting is perhaps the weakest part in the movie. It is not exactly bad. Arnold Schwarzenegger does a fantastic job as Conan. Indeed, it’s probably Arnold at his best. He fits perfectly, due to his accent and weak grasp of English. It is just what you’d expect from a northerner that has received no education and spent most of his life as a slave or a pit fighter. Perhaps the weakest performance in the movie is that of Valeria, simply because she does nothing to distinguish herself. It’s competent, but nothing special. The Wizard plays the role of the hermit extremely well, and I knew I recognized his voice from somewhere, and it turns out he’s the voice of Aku in Samurai Jack (among many other things), my favourite cartoon as a kid. He is also the narrator/chronicler of the entire movie.

However, hands down the best performance of the movie actually comes from the king, who only has one scene, but he performs it to near perfection.

Just watch:
(click to show/hide)

Dialogue:

There really isn’t that much dialogue in this movie, compared to others. I suspect it’s partly because of Arnold’s weak English, but I don’t know. However, what little dialogue there is is practically instant classics. They are simple, but very powerful, and therefore easy to remember. Conan doesn’t philosophize, and when he does, he does it in a very down to earth fashion, fitting his character.

Here’s a selection of memorable quotes:
(click to show/hide)

Personal Opinion:

So, as you may have noticed, I really like this movie. I’d put it in my top 5 movies of all time. It is a bit cliché to modern eyes, but it’s cliché because this movie made it cliché. It’s like faulting Tolkien for being too generic. Keep in mind, Conan and Lord of the Rings was first conceived around the same time. Conan, in my opinion is equally ground-breaking as Tolkien’s work, though perhaps a lower class of literature perhaps of lesser quality (assuming you care).

I recommend anyone who hasn’t seen this movie, to watch it. It was the standard that other fantasy movies strived to reach until Lord of the Rings was released and still holds up incredibly well. The worst case scenario is that you will find it incredibly campy, but really funny. Either way, you should definitely see it.

Thoughts about the Riddle of Steel:

The riddle of steel is mentioned twice in the movie:
(click to show/hide)

Also, in the last scene Conan's life becomes full circle when he cuts Thulsa Doom's head off the same way Doom cut Conan's mother's head off. But before that he tries to convince Conan not to do so.

Conan's father considered steel to be stronger while Thulsa Doom considered flesh to be the strongest. Conan realizes at the end, that both of them were wrong, and that the true riddle of steel is that it is steel and flesh together. It is the will of Conan that could not be swayed, and the sharpness of his sword that gave him the power to cut down Thulsa Doom. This is the generally accepted "answer", but there are variations.

I always enjoyed imagining Conan at the end when he sits on the stairs contemplating his victory as him wondering what has changed. The only thing his quest for revenge made for his personal life was that he lost his love.

Let me explain. By killing Thulsa Doom, he set himself "free" of his quest for revenge, and also "freed" the cultists from Thulsa Doom's lies. But free to do what? Same things they could've done earlier had they the will to do so. Really emphasizes the futility of revenge in the end.

I’ll do a short write-up of the failures of Conan the Destroyer if people are interested. Thank you if you managed to make it this far!


« Last Edit: October 22, 2013, 02:34:22 PM by Ninja_Khorin »

Offline Panos_

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Re: A completely random movie review
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2013, 01:12:12 AM »
+2
Khorin, I wanted to do this for a long time, but now it`s the chance, why don`t you rename this thread to "Movie Reviews" or something else, and people can post here what movie they`ve seen last, and a small personal review, what do you think?
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Offline Leshma

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Re: A completely random movie review
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2013, 01:17:31 AM »
+1
Wholeheartedly agree with Khorin on this one.

Offline Sir_Hans

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Re: A completely random movie review
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2013, 04:58:33 AM »
+1
watched it for the first time a few months ago. Definitely a great movie, a classic in my book too.

Offline Ninja_Khorin

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Re: A completely random movie review
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2013, 09:03:37 AM »
+1
Khorin, I wanted to do this for a long time, but now it`s the chance, why don`t you rename this thread to "Movie Reviews" or something else, and people can post here what movie they`ve seen last, and a small personal review, what do you think?

Not a bad idea that. Hopefully others will write their own stuff in here too.

EDIT: Sir Hans, even though that scene in your signature is from the sequel. I love that move he does. Punching a horse hard enough to knock it over.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2013, 10:09:04 AM by Ninja_Khorin »

Offline zagibu

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Re: 'Review a movie' - thread
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2013, 01:57:30 PM »
+1
Seen Gravity yesterday. It's a space drama, intense action, 90% closeup shots, the 3d experience is pretty good, awesome soundtrack. Some space-gotchas like pressure waves in empty space etc., but bearable. Sandra Bullock in tights most of the time.
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Re: 'Review a movie' - thread
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2013, 02:57:41 PM »
+1
Resident evil movie franchise.

It sucks.

0/10
Tseng: Used to the bitter taste of refusal, this only serves to reinforce his greatest life lession yet.
Cloud: And that is?
Tseng: Bitches, man.

Offline Vibe

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Re: 'Review a movie' - thread
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2013, 03:11:37 PM »
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Offline Radament

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Re: 'Review a movie' - thread
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2013, 04:42:37 PM »
0
Seen Gravity yesterday. It's a space drama, intense action, 90% closeup shots, the 3d experience is pretty good, awesome soundtrack. Some space-gotchas like pressure waves in empty space etc., but bearable. Sandra Bullock in tights most of the time.

saw it yesterday too , even if not too realistic , it's a great movie. do a review like khorin did.
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Offline zagibu

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Re: 'Review a movie' - thread
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2013, 06:08:41 PM »
+1
saw it yesterday too , even if not too realistic , it's a great movie. do a review like khorin did.

Lol, never.
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Offline Ninja_Khorin

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Re: 'Review a movie' - thread
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2013, 02:33:12 PM »
+1
Since some people enjoyed my review, I think I'll make one for Conan the Destroyer as well, but first I'd like to take some points up that I forgot in my first review relating to Conan's revenge and the riddle of steel.

The riddle of steel is mentioned twice in the movie:
(click to show/hide)

Also, in the last scene Conan's life becomes full circle when he cuts Thulsa Doom's head off the same way Doom cut Conan's mother's head off. But before that he tries to convince Conan not to do so.

Conan's father considered steel to be stronger while Thulsa Doom considered flesh to be the strongest. Conan realizes at the end, that both of them were wrong, and that the true riddle of steel is that it is steel and flesh together. It is the will of Conan that could not be swayed, and the sharpness of his sword that gave him the power to cut down Thulsa Doom. This is the generally accepted "answer", but there are variations. (Conan 2011 kinda confirms it with its "Mystery of Steel" which was "Which is most important when forging a sword, Fire or Ice?" The answer was "Fire and Ice")

I always enjoyed imagining Conan at the end when he sits on the stairs contemplating his victory as him wondering what has changed. The only change his quest for revenge caused for his personal life was that he lost his love.

Let me explain. By killing Thulsa Doom, he set himself "free" of his quest for revenge, and also "freed" the cultists from Thulsa Doom's lies. But free to do what? Same things they could've done earlier had they the will to do so. Really emphasizes the futility of revenge in the end.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2013, 02:39:46 PM by Ninja_Khorin »

Offline Ninja_Khorin

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Re: 'Review a movie' - thread
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2013, 10:29:26 PM »
+3
Alright, this turned out way too long. Hope someone bothers to read it.  :)


Conan the Destroyer (1984) - Movie Review by Khorin (includes spoilers)

“Between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, sword in hand. It is I, his chronicler, who knows well his saga. Now, let me tell you of the days of high adventure!”


Plot:

The plot starts off with Conan kneeling before an altar with his friend Malak, the thief, when they get attacked by unknown men. After defeating them, the leader of the attackers calls her men back and tells Conan that she needs him for a quest. Conan at first declines, but after the leader, who is in fact the queen of the area, promises that she can bring back Valeria, Conan’s girl from the first movie, he agrees.

So they travel to the capital city where the queen tells Conan that he is to escort the queen’s niece, Jehnna, to find the horn of Dagoth, their god, a.k.a. the Dreaming God. The niece was born with a certain mark that allows her touch, without dying, a diamond that allows them to find the horn. When Conan is off-screen we hear the queen and Bombaata, Jehnna’s protector, discuss killing Conan after they have found the diamond.

Bombaata’s mission is also to protect Jehnna’s virginity, since she is needed for sacrifice. Jehnna does not know anything about this, naturally. This comes as no surprise to anyone, since they’re all dressed in black and the high priest has a staff with a skull on it. Of course they’re evil. We learn that the diamond is held by an evil wizard. It’s hopefully clear to everyone by now that the mission is to wake the Dreaming God from its slumber.

So they embark on their quest and Conan sets out to find his own wizard, so he rescues Akiro from cannibals. Akiro is the Wizard from the first movie, who is mentioned by name for the first time. So, they start their trek toward the evil wizard and on the way encounter Zula, who is a Zulu. Get it? Zula pledges to fight for Conan, because Conan rescued her after she was caught raiding.

They eventually reach the wizard’s tower, but the night before they enter it, the wizard sends a magic bird and kidnaps Jehnna in her sleep. Conan and the rest of the party wake up in the morning and notice that she’s gone and immediately set out to rescue her. The wizard’s toward is situation in a lake and it’s made of ice. This is where it gets a little odd that Conan is not cold without a shirt, since the temperature is cold enough for us to see his breath. They encounter the wizard, who turns into a troll-orc and kill him.

Afterwards they follow Jehnna who intuitively knows where to go and find the horn in an old ruin. On the ruin walls it tells how Dagoth will destroy the earth if awakened. Either way, on the way out they encounter cultists who want the horn. They escape from the ruins, but not before Bombaata takes Jehnna and the horn and leaves them to their fate.

Conan, obviously, gets mad for being betrayed and travels with what’s left of his party back to the capitol. There he sneaks in to the temple right when they’re about to sacrifice Jehnna (who we are now told must be sacrificed so that the queen can control Dagoth). He fights Bombaata and kills him and saves Jehnna. However the ritual has gone too far and Dagoth is awakened, so they fight him and manage to kill him too by ripping out his horn. The movie ends in a classic movie cliché where the heroes are awarded their rewards by the newly crowned Jehnna.

Visuals:

The visuals in this movie are a bit mixed. The sets and the scenery is still top notch, apart from the wizard’s tower that is unfortunately pretty poorly made in some parts. The costumes still hold up to Conan the Barbarian’s standard of looking authentic but still rich with classic barbarian fantasy aesthetics.

The scope of this movie is for the most part much larger than the original. Whereas in the original they fought a cult with relatively little magic, in the sequel they fight cultists, other cultists, a wizard and a god. And cannibals. The problem with this is that the graphical effects do not deliver in all of these scenes. The fight against the wizard and pretty much all his magic looks pretty bad to a modern viewer and the entire set in that scene is also pretty poor. Dagoth looks a bit strange, but I can understand the technical limitations here, and the god does still look fairly terrifying and grotesque.

The wizard in all his terrific glory:

(click to show/hide)

The fighting choreography is not quite as good as in the original either. Pretty much every scene with Zula fighting is pretty bad. She fights with a spear, but it doesn’t look convincing at all. Malak, “fights” with daggers, but it’s mainly him just hiding and stabbing people who are already down. It all really leaves you wanting Subotai from the original back. Conan’s fight against the wizard is not that well choreographed either.

Here you can see Zula fighting. As an added bonus you get to see Jehnna's terrible acting.

(click to show/hide)

Audio:

The movie has practically the same soundtrack as before and it’s still very good.

Acting:

And so we come to the acting. This is worse across the board, to be brutally honest. So I’ll go through the most important characters.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in his role as Conan has deteriorated slightly from the original. He isn’t as convincing, and I believe one of the reasons could be that he has more to say. However, the difference here isn’t huge, and some of it is probably due to bad dialogue which I’ll discuss later.

The biggest offender in bad acting in this movie, and I’d be hard pressed to find anyone worse is Jehnna. Once again, her script and part in the movie is generally horrible. Half the time she is shouting for help, or trying to find out how to seduce Conan. However, the actress Olivia d’Abo makes the entire thing cringe worthy. It’s abysmal. If you watch this movie, you will notice this in her first line.

Malak, played by Tracey Walter, is also terrible. Once again, this is probably due to a bad script, but a good actor can overcome that to some degree.

Zula (Grace Jones) tries to play the role of a warrior woman, but once again just doesn’t manage it. Her fights are awkward and the way she acts is not believable. The entire effort to seem like a warrior is ruined in a scene where she spots a rat and jumps away like any old frightened woman (according to cliché) and is then laughed at by the rest.

Shockingly enough Mombaata played by none other than Wilt Chamberlain, a famous basketball player, does his job relatively good compared to the disasters above.

Mako, who plays Akiro the Wizard, is for the most part really good as per usual. However, one criticism I have is the opening speech he is responsible for. When he talks in the first Conan movie that intro is awesome and delivered perfectly. In Conan the Destroyer, however, the intro is not delivered with the same impact and seems almost indifferent when he says it. I have a feeling he had too much to say for the time he was given, forcing him to rush it.

Just listen to both of the and compare. The first one is from Conan the Barbarian, the second one is from Conan the Destroyer:



The rest of the characters do an average to decent job. The Wizard’s monologue lines aren’t really that impressive, but his entire character is pointless anyway, so I can’t exactly fault him for it.

Dialogue:

So, remember all those memorable quotes I posted in my Conan the Barbarian review? That wasn’t nearly all of them, and they were fantastic lines, I hope you agree. Now in Conan the Destroyer, there are none. There’s not a single line that I can remember that was good and memorable. Some were decent, some were memorable due to being bad, but that’s it. What happened?

Instead we get lines like these:

(click to show/hide)

The one who wrote the script should seriously have given more thought to it. This is yet another black mark when you compare it to the original.

Personal Opinion:

The plot to me feels a little needlessly convoluted for a Conan movie. In Conan the Barbarian he had one task and everything he faced was Thulsa Doom’s henchmen, with a few minor exceptions. The wizard that they fight is completely random. We are told nothing about him, other than he holds the diamond. He could be the protector of the world for all we know. And after they kill him and try to take the horn, some random cultists appear that want to fight Conan again. Then they also fight the cannibals when rescuing Akiro. The worst part about it is that it would probably be alright if the queen turned out to betray him in a shock twist at the end, but no. It’s blatantly obvious to everyone except Conan & Co. that she is evil.

Another thing that always bothered me was that when Conan fights the wizard, he finds the wizards weakness purely by accident, which makes the entire scene feel like Conan just got lucky, which is in direct contrast to the earlier movie.

All the new side characters just make me wish we had Valeria and Subotai back. Malak is the replacement for Subotai, and he's just an annoying guy who delivers some slapstick quality humour to it. Did they really think Conan needed that? Zula as a character does nothing other than stare menacingly and tries to be strong. Thank the heavens Mako returned with his character Akiro.

You may have noticed this review is fairly negative. It’s not really a bad movie. It’s okay. This was the first Conan movie I saw when I was younger and I loved it. I still like it. The only reason it sounds bad is because I really, really liked the first one and this comes across rushed in the first seconds of the movie. However, it’s still a Conan movie at heart. I do recommend it, if you liked the first Conan. If you thought the first Conan was campy and funny, well, this is more of that. Regardless, you should watch it.

My god, this turned out longer than expected. Thank you if you managed to read it all.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2014, 03:10:39 PM by Ninja_Khorin »

Offline Tot.

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Re: 'Review a movie' - thread
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2013, 05:43:15 PM »
+2
BTW. This worth watching (Making of Conan the Barbarian, 3 parts). I kinda cringe every time I think that they initially were, for example, planning to make the crypt scene with finding Atlantean sword faithful to the books, that skeleton was supposed to come alive and Conan was supposed to have a prolonged fight with it. Just think about that, one of the most iconic scenes turned into something like that final fight in Conan the Destroyer.  :lol:

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Offline Ninja_Khorin

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Re: 'Review a movie' - thread
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2013, 07:19:19 PM »
0
It could be done alright with stop-motion. Skeletons and robots are some of the few things that can look really good with stop-motion over CGI, in my opinion. It looks more robotic, while bad CGI can really ruin a scene and CGI rarely looks that real.


But it can also look dreadful. Really depends on how much effort they put into it.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2013, 07:23:01 PM by Ninja_Khorin »

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Re: 'Review a movie' - thread
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2013, 07:25:54 PM »
0
Meaning lies as much
in the mind of the reader
as in the Haiku.