CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’
Film Review: Bar is Set Low in Retread of ‘Conan the Barbarian’
CHICAGO – Sword and sandal epics are almost expected to have wooden acting and absurd dialogue. The new film “Conan the Barbarian” meets those expectations, and doesn’t offer any action or originality to counteract the anticipated flaws.
The film is a redundant mass of stand-offs and battles, that has as a reasoning the eventual heroics of Conan (who is birthed on a battlefield and given a Jesus-like reverence). These confrontations are literally 80 percent of the film, and concedes with predictable and explicit probability that Conan will reign supreme. The scenic elements are the highlight of the film, it is the humans that trod upon it that spoils the atmosphere, and the movie.
Corin (Ron Perlman), is the leader of the Barbarians, a warring tribe in an ancient society that fights a supernatural power by scattering pieces of a mystical, conjuring mask that supposedly can make the dead rise back to rule the earth. Conan (Jason Momoa) is born in the midst of this conflict, cut from his dying mother on the battlefield. The evil Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) is in pursuit of the mask, aided by his daughter Marique (Rose McGowan), who is also a witch.
They find the last piece of the mask puzzle with the Barbarians, then burn the village and kill Conan’s father. The son goes out into the world with revenge on his mind, and that leads him to an ancient monastery, where Tamara (Rachel Nichols) is told through prophecy that she and Conan will come together. She also has pure blood, which will activate the powers of the mask. This becomes a race between Khalar and Conan, to see who will possess Tamara and what purpose will be served once she is contained.
Photo credit: Simon Varsano for Lionsgate