Conan The Barbarian (2011)

Conan The Barbarian (2011)

Crimes

  • Featuring all the swordplay, bare breasts, and indiscriminate bloodshed viewers could want from a sword-and-sorcery movie, while still being incredibly dull
  • Trying and failing to recreate an entire fantasyland continent in the budget-friendly land of Bulgaria
  • Finally bringing Robert E. Howard’s great pulp hero back to the big screen, but in such a way that no one will want to see him again for another 30 years

Defenders: Stars Jason Momoa and Rose McGowan. (The DVD also features a separate commentary from director Marcus Nispel.)

Tone of commentary: Convivial. Momoa and McGowan seem to enjoy each other’s company. They have the easy give-and-take of people who have shared a difficult experience that others who weren’t there will never entirely understand. As the commentary progresses, they grow franker about the filming conditions in Bulgaria and some of their problems with the movie, particularly its ending. But they still seem to have enjoyed their filmmaking experience, and the film itself. “If Jason and I go silent on this commentary,” McGowan says early on, “it’s because we’re getting sucked into the movie.” (They don’t go silent that often.)

What went wrong: Momoa and McGowan focus more on the trials of shooting on a tight budget in Bulgaria than on the film itself, but Momoa makes several allusions to “fights.” He points out one scene in which he added some of his own dialogue: “This wasn’t in the script. I thought it was very important to put Robert E. Howard’s philosophies and code and some of the original dialogue in the movie.” He isn’t wrong to suggest that Conan The Barbarian’s three credited screenwriters apparently didn’t give this much consideration.

Momoa also complains about several of the more difficult fight scenes, which included some physically uncomfortable moments that ended up on the cutting-room floor. But it wasn’t just the fight scenes that made Momoa uncomfortable. “I had to go to a casting [session] to look at other women’s boobies,” he says, apparently having been asked to pick out a body double for co-star Rachel Nichols for a Conan-on-damsel-in-distress love scene. “There were all these Bulgarians, and they didn’t speak English,” he says. “You’d think that would be fun, but at the same time, you’re really embarrassed.” 

The embarrassing moments with nude Bulgarian women didn’t stop there. When it came time to do the love scene, the body double Momoa helped choose had some, um, forward-thinking ideas: “Since she was Bulgarian… She wanted to really do it.” (Bulgarian readers: Is there something we should know about your country?) Momoa’s response: “No, baby: This is acting.”

McGowan has some thoughts on Bulgaria, too, commenting on a scene with many nude women, “I didn’t know, honestly, in Bulgaria you could get a nose job, boob job, and lip injections. And possibly veneers. I had trouble finding food.”

Inevitable dash of pretension: Commenting on a scene in which her evil sorceress character creates evil warriors by blowing a handful of sand into the air, McGowan says, “If you see how my hand turns, it’s very ballet.”

Comments on the cast: McGowan on Ron Perlman: “Sometimes he can be very, very funny. And sometimes he can be cranky. You never know which Ron you’re gonna get. But I adore him.”

Commentary in a nutshell: “I loved doing it,” Momoa says. “But it was fuckin’ gnarly.”

Filed Under: DVD

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