Giving the new Conan a chance

I hadn’t been terribly excited about the new sword and sorcery epic Conan until I saw the posters and the movie trailer with Ron Perlman. I think it’s hard for any fantasy adventure film to go too far wrong with Perlman somewhere in the cast, even if his character doesn’t make it past the first 15 minutes of the film (hey, I assume you’ve seen the other Conan movies or at least read some of Robert E. Howard or thumbed through a comic or two or you wouldn’t be reading this far!). Besides Perlman, the art direction and cinematography of the trailer just Blew. Me. Away. So yeah, I’d say I’m up for it now.

Why was I so uncertain before? Well, that’s where the familiarity factor comes into play. As a longtime fan of the Stargate franchise I’d already been exposed to a hefty dose of Jason Mamoa as Ronon Dex in Stargate Atlantis. There he wasn’t called upon to do much besides glare, brood and toss the occasional stunt guy across a set, so I wasn’t really sure he could pull off Conan. I mean, I knew he could do a burly, hulking, mysterious character pretty well, but could he live up to the hype and fill Arnold’s sandals on the big screen?

I haven’t been watching Game of Thrones, so I can’t attest to his work there, but I’ve met Momoa in person at cons, I can tell you that at 6’4″ he’s certainly built for the part of Conan with all of the necessary physical chops and stunt ability required for any action-adventure-fantasy role. In person he also exudes a certain little boy vulnerability that will undoubtedly serve him well when the script occasionally calls for expressing Conan’s inner anguish. Which I assume it will, as you can’t experience watching your whole family and village getting wiped off the map without feeling a little emotionally tender from time to time. Right before you ride off to slaughter a few hundred of your worst enemies, of course.

How well Momoa will meld mind and muscles as the new Conan, I can’t say for sure until the film opens August 19. I do think that enough years have gone by for a new Conan franchise to take spark, and I wish it well. Plus, with supporting actors the likes of Perlman (Hellboy, Alien: Resurrection, Beauty and the Beast), Stephen Lang (whom I just saw at San Diego Comic-Con in an hour of Fox’s new scifi/dino TV show TERRA NOVA), and Rose McGowen (Grindhouse, Charmed), I am pretty optimistic for this new Conan being, at the very least, a rousing good Saturday afternoon popcorn flick.

Cross-posted from my report at


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