Monday, January 21, 2008

REVIEW: Conan the Destroyer

Conan the Destroyer

Year: 1984
Director: Richard Fleischer
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tracey Walter, Mako, Olivia d'Abo, Grace Jones
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG

After the decent success of Conan the Barbarian, many wondered if we would ever get a sequel. It was only a matter of time before Universal Pictures decided to do another Conan film, but it wasn't a very successful choice. The sequel Conan the Destroyer only managed to gross an estimated $31 million at the box office, when the first one grossed almost $69 million. There was alot of reasons for this simply because alot of what made the first film good, is missing. After seeing the original yesterday, I thought it was only fair that I watch the sequel the next day since my brain will still be in that Conan type world. After watching it just a few minutes ago, I can say that I'm disappointed with the sequel.

Plot Outline:
Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is brought to Queen Taramis (Sarah Douglas), where he is offered a quest. To guide and protect princess Jehnna (Olivia d'Abo) to a key protected by a powerful wizard. This key enables them to collect a magic horn, which Queen Tamaris desperately wants. Conan's reward for this is the resurrection of his love, Valeria. What Conan and his friends don't know is that this horn is to be used in sacrificing the princess to awaken an evil monster. Queen Taramis sends Bombaata (Wilt Chamberlain) with them to ensure the safety of the princess and her virginity. He is also sent to see that Conan and his friends don't return from the quest.

The story of the film feels alittle too skeptical. When reviewing the first film, I noted how the film had some skeptical moments that kind of distracted the films plot and that's still present in this film, but its a bit more spread out. The sequels plot just isn't has creative and serious as the first film. Theirs a comedy aspect that really tones down the films rough look. Not to mention that this sequel is rated PG when the first film was given a hard R. This makes the film feel less violent and aggressive which is really unfair since Conan is all about violence. The characters aren't as likable as the first film and many of the previous characters don't return. With all this said, I still found the story to be a tad entertaining. Sure it isn't as good as the first film, but I still found some enjoyable scenes. All in all, I still felt disappointed with this sequel compared to many other sequels for other films.

The cast of Conan the Destroyer is kind of a let down. There aren't many previous characters returning for this sequel and it leaves out alot of what made the first film good. Sure Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as Conan, but that doesn't really help that much. Hes still alittle too early in his career to be giving out Oscar performances, but he still is Conan and I'm happy for that. Mako from the first film returns as the wizard, but he gets very few lines that hardly make his return memorable. Then we have Tracey Walter as Malak, but he gets pretty annoying at times simply because his character is a coward. Olivia d'Abo plays the princess and even she looks wrong for her part. She simply looks too young to be princess and play the love interest in the film. Were missing Gerry Lopez who played Subotai in the first film. What I think was really needed in this film was a villain.

The visual aspects are still in tack with the first film. There are moments where the film is obviously in different environments such as the Wizard tower, but I felt the look and feel is still the same as the first film. The atmosphere is still the same with many climate changes. Since this film is rated PG compared to the R rating the first one got, alot of scenes feel cut out. The film is shorter than the first film and features less violence and gore. This frustrates me because Conan is all about violence. The quality of the picture is somewhat grainy which isn't a surprise considering its age. Colors don't pack that vibrancy that I have come to expect from DVD's, but it still looks pretty good. Detail hardly hold up with alot of the scenes featuring soft images.

The Conan films have always been about big epic music and I'm happy to say that formula is still here. Basil Poledouris who made the soundtrack for the first one is back, but he doesn't look like hes created anything new for this film, but that's not a bad thing considering the first one had a great soundtrack. Whats puzzling is that Conan the Barbarian featured a Total Recall type score that is apparently missing from this film. I just found it alittle weird that they would cut out a score that appeared in the original, but is missing here. The first film also had a soundtrack that although was great, needed a 5.1 restoration remix badly. I just hope Universal Pictures does us fans justice, by releasing a special edition of the Conan films with the 2 films getting 5.1 restoration remixes, but I heard from many sources that its pretty much impossible since the studio has lost many of the films original music so creating a brand new 5.1 mix would seem impossible.

Conan the Destroyer just isn't a well made sequel to Conan the Barbarian. The story is isn't as violent and aggressive as the first film and seems a bit too skeptical for my taste. The cast is hardly any good with many of the characters acting anything other than memorable. I'm glad Arnold Schwarzenegger returned as Conan, but even that doesn't save the bad cast. The visual look still feels very much like the first Conan which I found to be suitable. The soundtrack is as great as the first Conan was even though it would have sounded even better if it was in 5.1 surround. I cant really recommend Conan the Destroyer to everyone, but if your a fan of Conan the Barbarian and really want to see some more Conan then I guess you can check this film out.

Grade: C-

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