Neil Fox on film (24.08.11)
Conan The Barbarian
They are already remaking Short Circuit, Highlander and Dirty Dancing among hundreds of others, so the rebooting of this cult classic is sadly inevitable.
Watching this is like watching 24-hour news. You feel stuck in a loop, you know the ending and you just don’t care.
But you’re compelled to watch out of a sense of nostalgia for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan and a fear of missing out on something. Maybe that is what Hollywood is up to. They are relying on the lack of diversity and a compulsion to consume and the fear of missing out.
This new Conan is needless and it’s really not very good.
An awful script, a cast of nobodies and action sequences that the makers of Dino Shark v Crocosaurus would baulk at.
Conan is avenging the death of his father and the slaughter of his village, so like Jason of Greek legend then. Poor Ron Perlman, he’s much better than this. The lead actor Jason Momoa? Well, he’s not better than this, so he’s perfectly cast.
I confess. I’m the only person in the English-speaking world who hasn’t read and wept over David Nicholls’ romantic novel.
The movie is in trouble in that the source is beloved and literary audiences refuse to acknowledge that movies and books are different, wanting exactly the same experience replicated, which is impossible.
Even here, with David Nicholls adapting the screenplay of his own book, he won’t be let off.
Sometimes a film transcends the novel and creates its own space in the artistic universe. Alas, not this time.
The reason? Well, like the Harry Potter franchise there is no sense of the cinematic. It’s all safe and obvious and underwhelming.
The leads, Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway, do their best in the roles of a man and a woman whose lives are shown on the same day each year, a year on from their first night together.
It’s a cinematic concept but it can’t shake its literary roots and so just muddles along and whelms. Not over, not under. Just whelming.
Final Destination 5
Instalment five of a great premise, death stalking those who cheat it.
That’s the plot and it’s a set-up for extravagant deaths and intended shocks. Predictable and only mildly diverting. Enough already.
The Skin I Live In
Pedro Almodovar reunites with Antonio Banderas for the first time in an age for this macabre tale of an obsessive surgeon striving to create a unique and invincible synthetic skin and his relationship with the woman who acts as his muse and guinea pig. There are echoes of Franju’s Eyes Without A Face and Hitchcock’s Vertigo, but the operatic melodrama and mix of humour and horror can only be the Spanish maestro’s and like his previous Broken Embraces he’s finally making movies I love, as well as merely admire.