Netflix is a funny thing. I have no idea why I put Conan The Destroyer (1984) on my queue, though it’s probably because I had never seen it before. Even more mysterious is why it was at the very top of said queue. Anyway, I got it in the mail right before we left for Disney World (I’ll probably do a post with some pics later in the week) and actually thought it was the first one (Conan The Barbarian). But, hey, it’s an 80s action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (even though I copied his name from IMDb, it’s creepy how good I’m getting at spelling his name) with swords, so how bad can it be right? Well, pretty bad.
Unfortunately, Destroyer is just a boring movie. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by ridiculously fast paced action sequences like those in Crank or Dark Knight, but I was astonished at how slow Arnold attacked some of his foes. It was like the squared off against each other, circled a time or two and then leisurely swung swords. Sure there are some cool decapitations, but overall the action just felt kind of stale.
Another problem I had with the story is that they give away the double cross in the beginning of the movie. You see, this witch lady tricks Conan into helping a young girl get her hands on a gem that will allow her to get a horn that will bring a god to life. She tells Conan that he can bring his dead lady (I’m assuming she’s from the first movie, which I haven’t seen in a long, long time) back to be his queen. Conan agrees to help the girl find the gem and then, right after that, the witch tells the girl’s bodyguard (played by crazy-tall sex machine Wilt Chamberlain) that, once the girl has the horn, he can kill Conan. That’s about 15 minutes into the movie. Didn’t they have spoiler warnings back in 1984? I think simply cutting that scene and revealing the double cross later would have been a lot more dramatic.
One more problem I saw was the huge cast. In addition to the girl and Wilt, Conan’s hanging out with the annoying thief who also acts as comic relief (though he’s nowhere near as annoying as Chris Tucker in Fifth Element), freed bandit Grace Jones and a magician dude who mostly seems to just put his hands together in odd configurations and chant (he voiced Uncle Iroh in the incredible awesome Avatar cartoon). I got excited after the team was assembled because I figured they would start tearing shit up, instead, most of them just stand around pointlessly. Why couldn’t you have combined the non-character of the magician with the comedy relief? It’s called economy of story folks (I may have just made that up, but it makes sense in my head).
Overall, I can’t say that Destroyer is a bad movie because, even though it’s slow and boring, it delivers what you’d expect: super-buff Arnold killing all kinds of people/stuff/glass monsters (don’t even get me started on how a monster made of reflections shouldn’t turn to glass when it dies), Grace Jones and Wilt Chamberlain doing their own thing (you know, being scary and being tall respectively). Seriously, seeing Wilt standing next to his charge is hilarious at certain times as she only comes up to his waste. All that being said, I also can’t say it’s a good movie. So, if you’re already a Conan fan, like Jim Gibbons , this might be right up your alley. Or it could be kinda boring.
Oh, one last thing I wanted to point out for my comic book fan readers. You may have noticed that I included the Comic Movie label for this post. That’s because Conan comic writers (who also happen to be big time comic writers all around) Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway got credited for the story, but apparently disliked the finished script so much that they turned their script into a graphic novel called Conan: The Horn of Azoth through Marvel and just changed some names. Cool huh? Maybe I’ll check that out, I bet it’s rad.