Conan the Destroyer (1984)

I Suppose Nothing Hurts You.  Only Pain.

The inevitable continuation of reviewing Conan the Barbarian is Conan the Destroyer.  When I went into Conan 1, I was well aware of what I was getting myself into.  I had watched the movie again not long before I started reviewing movies, so my memory of it was pretty clear.  Going into Conan 2, I wasn’t even sure that I had ever seen it before, even though I owned it as part of a two pack with the first movie.  But, as it was part of Chris’ request, I sat down to see if I had ever seen the sequel.  And that is today’s review.  Conan the Destroyer was based on characters created by Robert E. Howard, written by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, directed by Richard Fleischer, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia d’Abo, Sarah Douglas, Wilt Chamberlain, Tracey Walter, Mako, Grace Jones, Pat Roach, Jeff Corey, and Andre “The Giant” Roussimouff.

Conan the Cimmerian (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and his travelling companion Malak the thief (Tracey Walter), are praying at an altar when they are attacked by the guards of Queen Taramis (Sarah Douglas).  After they pass the test of their guards, the Queen offers a quest to Conan.  If he accomplishes the task of escorting her niece, Jehnna (Olivia d’Abo), and the Queen’s guard, Bombaata (Wilt Chamberlain), to retrieve a magical horn that only Jehnna can touch, Conan will be rewarded by having his love, Valeria, brought back to life.  But, before they leave, the Queen privately instructs Bombaata to kill Conan once the horn has been retrieved so that he won’t be around to stop them from sacrificing Jehnna to awaken the dreaming god Dagoth.  Also, he’s going to have to keep an eye on her because she needs to remain a virgin and Conan would most likely knock the bottom out on that girl.  The group sets off, making a pit stop to save the life of a crazy Amazonian chick named Zula (Grace Jones), who then joins them on their quest.

This movie’s really not a whole lot better than its predecessor.  It’s a different story, and a fine one, but it’s not the greatest thing ever.  Much as with the first movie, it never really feels like the writers were able to keep focused.  They have the one driving plot of the princess getting the horn, the side plot about the secret sacrifice, and then a couple of other things that seemed like distractions.  Finding Zula was a scene that took about 15 minutes longer than it should have taken given its relative lack of importance to the main plot.  The part with Conan getting drunk and chatting with the princess didn’t need to happen, as did the part with the princess trying to learn how to fight.  But it wasn’t nearly as distracted as the first movie seemed to be.  I did wonder about the whole part with Jehnna’s virginity.  They made a big deal about how she needed to return a virgin or the sacrifice couldn’t happen.  So big a deal was made about her virginity that I was sure there would be a part where Conan breaks her off a piece and that is what causes the ceremony to go wrong, but they never went for that.  There was never even a moment where there was a chance that Conan would hit it.  I don’t know why, as she was perfectly fuckable and seemed to dig on him.  I guess credit could be given for them not being too predictable.  Speaking of predictions, why did they have to tap the wizard Akiro to find out where the princess had disappeared to when she was taken by the wizard Thoth-Amon?  There was literally one place in 100 miles and they were looking right at it, but they still had to ask him and have him do the silly thing with his fingers he always did to say, “Oh!  She’s in that big castle we’re all looking at.  I guess that makes sense.”  I get the feeling that the actors in the movie used the time between the movies to practice with their swords because the action scenes had improved.  They seemed like someone actually choreographed them this time.  The settings in the movie were also very nice.  I liked the inside of Thoth-Amon’s tower a lot, and the room full of mirrors where Conan fights the invulnerable creature with the red hood.  It was really reminiscent to the room of mirrors scene from Enter the Dragon.  The creature he fought there wasn’t particularly well done, being fairly obviously a guy with a mask on.  In contrast, the creature at the end of the movie was pretty good looking and came off as pretty intimidating even though its mouth and neck looked like a loose vagina.

The cast did fine and suited their parts, but their parts were not always that appealing.  Schwarzenegger was still Schwarzenegger and did not put on that much of a performance, but it seemed like his English was better in this movie than in the last.  His part basically just required him to be a big pile of meat, and he’s good at that.  Olivia d’Abo bummed me out, though.  She was pretty hot and her boobs always seemed right on the verge of escaping her clothing, but it never happened.  Fuckin’ tease.  Her hotness came in stark contrast to Grace Jones.  This chick was supposed to be a model at one point, right?  I have no idea what her appeal is supposed to be.  She looks a lot like Tommy Davidson from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.  I liked Mako as an actor, but by this point I had gotten sick of how ineffectual his character was.  In the first movie, he did next to nothing beyond narration.  In this movie, he had maybe one or two scenes where he used the magic that he was known for wielding.  Also, Tracey Walter’s character replaced Subotai as his partner.  But Subotai was usually pretty stoic in the first movie, whereas Malak was clearly just there for comic relief.  And he was just as annoying as any other comic relief person that can’t produce comedy.  I also would’ve liked a mention to what happened to Subotai from the first movie to this one.  Did he die in the same contract negotiations as Sandahl Bergman?

Conan the Destroyer is only barely distinguishable from Conan the Barbarian.  They’re both pretty basic stories that seem very distracted from their goal, the looks of the movies are fairly good for the time period, and the action has actually been choreographed, to this movie’s credit.  Both are decent enough movies that still hold up fairly well for their age, and I can recommend both for some fairly mindless action.  Conan the Destroyer gets “Enough talk!” out of “A fine magician you are!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Princess Bride (1987)


This movie came as another request from Robert. Not the “friend” that made me watch Thankskilling. This one came from the me Robert. I had managed to catch about 20 minutes of the movie while waiting to be passed over for another promotion (long story for elsewhere) and decided that I should watch it again. And then I responded “As I wish”. Thankfully, this movie was already in my collection and it was not a difficult wish to grant. So I present to you my review of The Princess Bride, starring Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Mandy Patinkin, and Andre the Giant, with notable guest appearances by Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Peter Falk, and Fred Savage.

Buttercup (Robin Wright) is a dirty bitch to her stable boy Westley (Cary Elwes). She delights in bossing him around and he responds only with “as you wish”. These words apparently end up meaning “I love you” and she starts to feel the same. In order to get married, Westley sails off to earn his fortune for their wedding. Unfortunately, Westley’s ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who is notorious for not being a fan of hostages. Buttercup receives word of his death and becomes despondent. Five years later, Buttercup is reluctantly engaged to Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). While out riding her horse, Buttercup is kidnapped by Sicilian criminal genius Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a Spanish swordsman Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and a gigantic wrestler from Greenland Fezzik (the gigantic wrestler from France, Andre Roussimoff aka the Giant). While sailing away, they find that they are being followed. They reach the Cliffs of Insanity and Vizzini orders Inigo to kill the masked man in black following them. The Dread Pirate Roberts bests Inigo in fencing (as people named Robert are known to do), but leaves Inigo alive, knocking him out instead. Vizzini then orders Fezzik to kill Roberts, but Roberts manages to choke out the giant (as people named Robert do) and leaves Fezzik unconcious. Vizzini then accepts a battle of wits with Roberts, but Roberts outsmarts him (again, Robert’s do these things!). Vizzini is all the way dead though. After needlessly pestering Buttercup for a bit, Roberts reveals that he is Westley, who was not killed, but befriended by the Dread Pirate Roberts and was handed the mantle of the Dread Pirate Roberts upon the old Roberts’ retirement. Soon after, Humperdinck catches them, but Buttercup agrees to marry Humperdinck if he promises not to kill Westley. The deal is struck and Humperdinck and Buttercup ride off together, and the six-fingered Count Rugen (Christopher Guest) takes Westley to safety … and by that I mean his death. WHAT WILL HAPPEN?! WILL TRUE LOVE TRIUMPH?! Well sure, but it’s fun to watch.

This is a pretty damn good movie, says I. And what’s best about it is that I feel it works for almost everybody. It’s got romance for the ladies and sword fighting and action for the mens. And the comedy will work for both. The entire movie is basically a rom-com based around Buttercup and Westley with all that icky girly kissy-faced stuff that them girls are into. But then when you involve Inigo, you get a lot of cool sword fighting and a great revenge story as Inigo searches for Count Rugen to avenge the murder of his father. I feel that everybody knows the famous line from this movie “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” And if you don’t remember this line, you will once you’ve watched the movie. It’s used about 8 times, but never in a way that makes you say “STOP SAYING THAT”, unless you’re Rugen. Wallace Shawn and Cary Elwes’ discussion over the poison goblet is solid good-time funnies. The only real problem I had with this (which I may not have if I read the book of the same name) was with the bookending with the Fred Savage and Peter Falk. The movie’s premise was that it was a story a grandfather (Falk) was reading to his grandson (Savage). Falk put on a good show and all, but these parts seemed like an unnecessary intrusion on a good story. But that’s not a major gripe. Another problem is the last line of the book. It’s something like “Since the invention of the kiss, there have been 5 kisses that are the best, and this one was better than those”. That just seems like lazy writing right there. It’s like “I can’t really think of a description that perfectly captures how amazing and romantic I want this kiss to be. …I guess I’ll just say that.”

The production of this movie is mostly top of the line (at least for what I’d expect from ’87, but they still hold up today). The backdrops for the scenes are all pretty epic in scope and fit the scene perfectly, most notably the Cliffs of Insanity. The clothing and make-up effects are all great and fit the scene perfectly. This will sound gay, but I noticed Robin Wright’s outfits as being particularly good. One thing that I felt was problematic to this movie probably wouldn’t have been a problem if you were reading it. That problem is that nobody was unaware that the Dread Pirate Roberts was Westley. Put a Robin mask on him and hide his hair, give him a Hitler ‘stache, and no one will be the wiser. Also, the ROUSes (or the Rodents Of Unusual Size) were less than convincing. But I suppose it was the best they could muster at the time, so I let it slide. They’re a minor part of the movie anyway. Also, I just realized on this viewing of the movie that I try to figure out exactly how Count Rugen’s pain machine works every single time I’ve watched this movie. Maybe I desire to be an evil genius and torture people with a water-based complicated piece of machinery.

I can’t really think of a single performance in this movie I didn’t like. Inigo was the man, as far as I was concerned, but Westley did a good amount of awesome himself. I especially liked Cary Elwes’ performance when his body was paralyzed. Wallace Shawn is another stand out performance here. He was only briefly in the movie, but was entertaining the entire time. The best percentage of comedy, however, goes to Billy Crystal as Miracle Max and Carol Kane as his wife. I loved their scenes. Christopher Guest as Count Rugen was a different step from the other performances I’ve enjoyed him in, but he performed it very well. Andre the Giant would have to be the surprise performance here because he was very good, though technically he may have been playing himself, though he did hide the fact that he could barely walk throughout the movie. I don’t know the guy’s name, but the guy that played the priest and did the whole “Mawwiage” thing was priceless.

So that’s that. This could be my favorite rom-com ever. I say that because it’s funny enough and contains enough action that guys aren’t slitting their wrists while their girlfriends are making them watch it. I give this movie “Her appeal is undeniable” out of “I wonder if he is using the same wind we are using”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.