I freely admit that I, Bear, world famous blogger, former academic, sometimes historian, bon vivant and raconteur extraordinaire do not often go out, but on the rare occasion I do, the question I am asked more often than any other is: "Can you explain your whereabouts on the night of X?" To which I reply : "Why yes I can, as a matter of fact O GOOD LORD, WHAT IS THAT THING COMING UP BEHIND YOU?" I then move to another country post haste and live under yet another identity.
The question I am asked next most often is: "How do you decide what movies to go and see?" To which I, Bear, world famous blogger, former academic, sometime historian, bon vivant and raconteur extraordinaire, reply: "Rarely." If the questioner pushes for a more elaborate answer, I say I read the reviews, like this one from the Toronto Star, wherein the critic reviews the soon to be classic "Conan the Barbarian". I will quote at some length in order to explain, my comments in blue.
Conan the Barbarian: He slices, he dices
One and a half stars rating
The rating is actually a good thing to me. Back in the days when I, Bear, world famous blogger, former academic, sometimes historian, bon vivant and raconteur extraordinaire was just Bear, non world famous blogger (as blogs had not yet been invented) current academic, dabbler in things historical, bon vivant, and raconteur extraordinaire, I went to every art house and repertory film that ever made the rounds. I avoided anything that remotely smelt of Hollywood, as I thought Hollywood to be crass and commercial, and I wanted Depth and Art and all that jazz. I saw many, many foreign movies, particularly French. I saw some good movies, to be sure, O gentle reader, but I also saw a monumental pile of crap. And here was the rub: Many of the worst movies, movies so bad they should have left skid marks on the screen, I ever saw were given four stars by critics enamoured with the auteur director and his 'vision' his 'style', his iconoclasm, daring and audacity. The phrase 'You must see this movie before you die!' became reversed for me.: I hope I die before I see another Gallic meditation on dysfunctional families, the Pointlessness of Life and meaningless sex.
“I live. I love. I slay. I am content.”
That line is great! I would pay money just to hear that line. It may be the new "Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentation of the women."
The character that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a star in the 1982 movie based on Robert E. Howard’s pulp fiction hero, Conan the Barbarian returns in the reboot that is the very definition of the dumb summer flick, designed to squeeze a few last bucks out of the kids before school starts up again.
So it’s puzzling why this version, starring Jason Momoa of TV’s Stargate: Atlantis and Game of Thrones as the title muscle-bound savage in the sword and sorcery fantasy, is so relentlessly bloody it nets an 18A rating. The very audience of young fellows who would enjoy this turkey can’t get in the door.
In her efforts to pour contempt on this cinematic masterpiece, the reviewer inadvertently uses several of the words that I, Bear, world famous blogger, former academic, sometimes historian, bon vivant and raconteur extraordinaire, take as prime indicators of a truly great movie. Words like "Muscle bound", "savage", "sword and sorcery fantasy." Clearly, this is not about a bunch of middle class nobodies who spend their lives annoying people, or whatever it is that passes for 'art' or entertainment these days, and I, bear, etc, deeply appreciate that fact.
Skipping over where the writer complains about a lack of plot, we get to:
Blood arcs up in great sprays thanks to 3-D trickery, as heads are smashed and limbs separated from bodies. Baby Conan is literally born in blood on the CGI-spawned battlefield, leading him to be a natural warrior as a kid. Why bring home good marks when a trio of hacked-off heads will please pops more?
Why hasn't this film been nominated for an Oscar? George Carlin said in his Seven Words routine that he would rather see a movie with two people making love than two people trying to kill each other. After years of seeing people fornicating on screen, I have decided against Carlin, and, as a matter of fact, I would rather watch two people trying to kill each other.
But, lest you think this is just a kill movie, there's more!
The gore gets a rest when the girls arrive. In fact, the credits list seven “topless wench” roles.
Ahem, er, moving on...
Rachel Nichols, who is as exciting as a dish of rice pudding, plays monk-nun (are you kidding me?) Tamara, who has some kind of unique “pure” blood that will help Zym and Marique fulfill their evil destinies. She also makes a tasty diversion for Conan with some PG sexy time. “Woman, come here,” he growls. Who could resist?
So, here we have a movie where the men are men and the women are women, who are also hot. I, Bear etc fail to see a downside to this. The only complaint I see here is that the writer is unhappy that Conan the Barbarian is not a metrosexual. If he was, this movie would be called Conan the Metrosexual, it would have been shot in France, and it would have sucked.
It’s hard to figure out just who this movie is for. Its boneheaded earnestness and wretched script means it’s not going to achieve a so-bad-it’s-good fan following and the level of violence is disturbing. I’ve seen horror movies with less gore. Pick up your sword and go home, Conan, and don’t you dare think about a sequel.
Ah, to be damned by the devil is truly to be blessed! Do think about a sequel. Conan, pick up thy sword and write it in the blood of your enemies and a few film critics. If I may be so bold as to make a request, do an adaptation of one of the original Robert E Howard stories. It would be awesome.
And now, I, Bear, world famous blogger, former academic, sometimes historian, bon vivant and raconteur extraordinaire, am back in black. To give a succinct answer to the question of how I choose a movie, I answer: If a trained academic professional reviewer pans it, it must be worth viewing. If they praise it, save your money for a better movie. Herein, gentle readers, endeth the lesson.