Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Enough talk!

Conan the Destoyer (1984)

If I had nothing but great memories of the first Conan movie, I have the exact opposite of this one. I really don't know why I tried this one again other than I had just watched the first one 3 times and still wanted more Conan.  I'm not certain how long it's been since I saw this, I know I watched it quite a few times on cable in the late 80s, but pretty certain I've not seen it in it's entirety since then.  It felt more like a straight-to-video movie compared to the original, although I notice IMDB has the budget listed at just slightly less than the first one.

Wilt Chamberlin continues to be one of the more horrible casting choices in any movie I've seen, but the rest of the cast didn't annoy me nearly as much as I remember. And lo and behold, Arnold's actually quite good in this.  If anything, he's acting better in this than the first and he's actually showing some subtlety in his performance.   Between this and the first Conan, it's apparent that Arnold really does put in the training and practice time to get ready for the stunts and swordplay/horse riding/etc he'll need.  He moved well in the first one and was very believable as a swordsman, but now he has some moves that just look flat-out cool.  That goes a long way to masking acting issues and keep the cool factor high.

Even the goofy drunk scene in the middle of the film didn't jar me as it used to and was actually pretty funny and well done.  Grace Jones wasn't the horrible actress I remembered. Not saying she's good or anything, but she's consistently in character ("Take him!  And grab him!") and has some good screen presence. Then there's Wilt. Ugh. Just ugh. Even the irritating rat-faced dude is fun to watch compared to Wilt.  He seems to be trying, and there are some decent moments, but there wasn't a single moment where I saw him as anything other than Wilt trying to be an actor and that really breaks the immersion.  What happened with Mako?  Mako is a complete bad-ass, a hell of an actor, and was utilized wonderfully in the first one, but here he's an after-thought with very few lines and crap-all to contribute to the story.  Such a waste.

Then there's the total failure of a script, complete crap directing, and an impressively bad decision to not keep it R-rated.  I still wonder what we could have had if Milius had stayed around to direct another one or two of these.  Without Milius at the helm, we have characters with little to no motivation, a groaner of a story, and completely uninspired action and cinematography.  I'm not saying Richard Fleishcer wasn't a good director at one point (Fantastic Voyage, Soylent Green, Tora! Tora! Tora!, 20,000 Leagues), but he's not hungry or at all invested in the material here and it shows.

All in all this was actually pretty fun upon rewatch. I don't think I'm going to watch this often or anything, but I could sit down and see it again.  It certainly scratches the Conan itch and I now have to re-rank this ahead of the 2011 Conan remake. 

Ahnold Quotient - 9
While not treading new ground, on par with the previous for large amounts of Arnold.  Might have taken it down a notch if not for the drunk scene which pushes it right back up there.

Rewatchability - Rarely
I could see myself occasionally coming back to this after watching Conan, but wouldn't ever go directly to it.  While there's a lot to like, there's an awful lot of ugh here and there are many other Arnold movies I'd go to first to scratch the itch.

Just don't make me watch Red Sonja. I can just skip that one, right? Please say I can skip that one...

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