Jason Momoa on the failure of Conan

News Simon Brew 17 Jan 2013 - 07:25

Jason Momoa looks back at what went wrong with the 2011 take on Conan...

As Arnold Schwarzenegger gets set to reprise the role of Conan later this year, for the mooted The Legend Of Conan, it seems as though the 2011 take on Robert E Howard’s character has already been wiped from the memory banks.

The film fell just short of a $50m worldwide box office take, and in spite of the fact that everything was set up for a potential franchise, the box office failure put pay to that idea.

Whilst on promotional duties for his next film, Bullet To The Head, Jason Momoa has been reflecting on his time as the big screen Conan, and has been chatting to Philstar about its failure. So: what went wrong?

“I was a comic book fan and a huge admirer of Frank Frazetta and when he died during our filming, it was so sad because I wanted him to see it and say 'Wow, that’s my Conan!' Just looking at his paintings, I wanted to put that up on the screen. I absolutely remember seeing that one where Conan's standing on a pile of skulls and it’s seared into your memory and I felt like Marcus Nispel is a pretty visually amazing director”, Momoa told the site.

“There’s just a lot of things that came into it and sometimes the script just wasn’t there. I just wanted take a stab at doing Conan and it’s out of your control, you can only do so much. I feel like I bled over, and over and over to do the best I could. I feel like we represented him very well. The movie sometimes, it fell short you can only show up as an actor and be the best you can be”.

Or the short version: he thought the script was problematic. That’s the vibe we’re getting there.

You can read the full interview right here.

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I don't know how accurate this idea is, but in my memory it came out around the same time as that Prince of Persia crap, and I *suspect* that people (non Conana or AoC fans anyway) thought, 'Oh, too many stupid muscle-man movies at once, ignore all of them and move on'. Maybe a different release window and more marketing would have helped?

Or the reality being that it was s**t. Again, it did not help that it was effectively a reboot following on from an '80's classic.

It's a shame as I really like Momoa. Considering how well suited to the role he is, it still amazes me how they could have cocked it up. Having read most of the Conan stories, he is arguably a closer fit than Arnie. All the film-makers had to do was just take one of the original stories and adapt it for the screen.

It was just a really tough call in the first place. It's one of the most iconic roles of one of the biggest stars in action cinema for years (if not when he played the role certainly in retrospect), with a truly exceptional score and a ton of nostalgia. Very hard to beat that, even if they'd produced a film without the flaws of the 2011 version.

Momoa did a great job with a horrible script and cheap sets. I wish someone had said to the principles involved in this film "Do it right or don't do it." Howard's books are RICH with detail and carnal brawn. This movie played like a SyFy adaptation. Why did Hollywood ram a stake through the heart of the two heroes I like more than any other: Conan and John Carter?

I also thought Momoa performed as well as he was able to, but the rest of the movie is one of the biggest steaming piles of excrement I've ever had the misfortune to watch. I'm one of those that likes to make my own opinion about movies. I didn't watch it in the theatre but bought the dvd. I wish I hadn't. It was so bad, I threw it away rather than allow anybody else to suffer this movie.

I don't think Jason Momoa should take any blame for it. I actually really enjoyed his performance. It's a real shame that they could get someone one board with similar talents to John Milius who could direct and write fantastic dialogue like - "Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No
one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we
fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many.
That's what's important! Valor pleases you, Crom... so grant me one
request. Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with

I also felt the sets were unimpressive in Momoa's Conan. In the 1982 version, the sets were mind blowing. The final scene where Conan goes to see Thulsa Doom looks fantastic.
I really hope that this isn't the end of swords and sandles films. I think Jason Momoa and Chris Hemsworth would both be suited to working on something.

He was good, really good in fact. Looked like he could genuinely handle a sword. The problem was the script. Seems to me like the bigwigs decide what film they want to make, pay for it, cast it, and then get somebody to write the script. Surely it would make more sense to reverse that process.

The problem was the crappie German director.

I agree. A crappie American director would have been far preferable.... ?

Agreed. Arnie was huge but not athletic while Momoa is both plus a reasonably good actor.


You sound like a real genius!!! Rent it (Redbox $1.20.), then if you like it, then buy it!!!

Momoa would have been perfect to play Conan's son in John Milius' 'King Conan: Crown of Iron' script if they were to film that in the very near future...

I only ever buy DVD's of all time favourites these days. Films I know I'll watch again and again. The wide availability of on-demand rental just makes DVD's irrelevant for first time film watching.

I guess that's what Blockbuster failed to learn.

Arnie as Conan at his age? I can't see it myself. For me he's not really an actor, he's an icon.

He doesn't really play a part instead just playing a version of himself.

I would much prefer it if they actually had both actors in the movie and paid some respect to Momoa by having him appear as Conan in flashback or something. I doubt it would happen though as I don't think Arnie would want to be upstaged on his comeback.

One of the things that was wrong with this Conan was what was wrong with the first one, and with Solomon Kane. The character has to be given a "motivation" for what they do. It's not enough that Conan's environment has turned him into a tough warrior, and that he enjoys that role. He has to be out for revenge, and in this sense the movie is no better than the first wave of S and S films, most of which had revenge as a motivator. (And in my opinion, this showed an underlying contempt for the audience; the people who made them had no love or respect for the genre, and were saying: if you like this stuff, it's because you're full of a need for revenge.) Obviously revenge can be a motive for Conan, but it shouldn't dominate his personality. The film used the line from Howard," I live, I love, I slay and am content". People who are in constant search of revenge are definitely not ''content''.
The big shame, as with Taylor Kitsch's John Carter, is that Momoa did a good job and probably won't get another crack at the character, despite being better than Ahnuld on every count.
A ray of hope: it used to be very difficult to get a superhero movie made; now there are some good ones. May it happen to S and S. Howard, Moorcock, Leiber, Vance; they're just waiting for the right filmmakers.

Jason Momoa did pretty well considering how threadbare the script was. One of the problems I had with Conan was the venom aimed at Momoa in the first place. Some of it was very racist and I do think that it was unfair and done to hurt the film. Conan was not perfect, but then neither was the 1982 version. At least I understood what Momoa was saying.

I saw the behind the scenes with those two moron writers and there idea of what a Robert. E. Howard story should look and feel like. Clearly these incompetent buffoons should be selling shoes at Ross dress for less. If you want to make a Conan movie, Simply pick a great Robert. E. Howard Conan story...Like any one of them , and make an adaptation of it...Mamoa was great as far as how he acted and looked, but the story was simply not Conan. I say to the writers. I have no problem with arrogance, but if you choose to be arrogant , then you better be really good at what you do, and you two cretins simply are not........I just hope they haven't ruined the chances for a great Conan movie in the future......

Mamoa IS Conan as far as I'm concerned, but Hollyweird may be too stupid to see this. Goes to how that it takes more than just flashy visuals to make a good S&S movie. Why they just could not have adapted Red Nails or another Howard story, I'll never know.

Irony - Questioning someone's intelligence while displaying the grammatical skills of a pre-schooler. Bravo. And, for your information, I will view movies in any fashion that I wish to. Which includes buying dvd's/blu-rays rather than renting them, thus not increasing my outlay for a movie. Of the 500+ movies I own, this is the only one I haven't wanted to watch more than once.

I think the movies failure is on the director and editor. Jason was awesome but some scenes and camera angels should have been changed or just removed all together

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