Tuesday, July 17, 1984
The Michigan Daily
'Conan' flexes to good fun
By Phillip K. Lawes
C ONAN the Destroyer takes us back for a jolly
romp through the Hyperborean Age with that
exercise in premeditated mesomorphic excess, Ar--
hold Schwartzenegger in the role of the Barbarian.
This time Conan is sent out on his epic trek by an
evil queen to retrieve some giant jewel which will be
used by a magical princess to retrieve a magic horn
which will revive a sleeping god who, unbeknownst to
Conan, will bring an age of death to the world.
Obviously, this is a silly scenario. The good news is
that the filmmakers readily acknowledge this
silliness. The first Conan film made the mistake of
taking itself seriously, as if the events on the screen
were even remotely plausible. This time significant
portions of the flick are played for chuckles. The god,
for example, frozen in the form of a statue, reclines in
a terribly fey pose, his facial expression strikingly
reminiscent of Charles Nelson Reilly's. It would be a
mistake to take this thing seriously.
The Hyperborean Age seems to have been a really
wacky time, combining the best elements of the Iron
Age and the less well-known Leather Age. That would
explain why everyone is wearing cruel-looking
leather outfits with all those gratuitous spikes and
studs. Wilt Chamberlain's Bombaata for example,
wears a collection of hides and a spectacular spiked
headdress which makes him look like a cross between
a buffalo and a malevolent pineapple.
Arnold Schwartzenegger's physique is still
dramatic: He looks like 600 pounds of coconuts in a
300-pound sack. Conan is still as barbaric as ever,
hacking people up with that sword the size of a front
bumper of a Coup de Ville, and assaulting livestock
Knave: The merchant is angry at us.
Conan: Are you surprised?
Knave: We didn't steal everything he had.
Conan: We didn't have time.
Conan has his tongue firmly in cheek throughout the
movie. (Then again, that bulge in his cheek could be
just another overdeveloped muscle.)
It is also gratifying to note that this particular bar-
barian seems to have a highly developed social con-
science, in that he is an equai opportunity employer.
In addition to his knave, Tracey Walker, who supplies
a running commentary in hilarious deadpan drawl,
Conan's entourage includes Mako as an Oriental
Wizard who wears what looks like a beanie with a
propeller on top, and Grace Jones as Zula, a ferocious
new-wave Amazon with a penchant for screaming
"Yaaaah !" while smashing someone in the face with
a long pole. -
In general, the Hyperborean age seems to have
been a time of excellent race relations. Bambaata is
Captain of the Guard of an extremely white Queen
Tamaris, and black faces pop up every now and then
in crowd scenes. Liberalism and mayhem go quite
well together, it seems.
In any case, Conan and company, weighted down
by a prissy Valley Girl of a princess with a British ac-
cent, chop and slash their way through a series of
wholly improbable intrigues and adventures, across
some dramatically photographed landscapes.
Through all the grunting and screaming, the well-
handled carnage, and the thick performance of its
massive protagonist, Conan the Destroyer remains a
consistently entertaining, wonderfully dopey sum-
Arnold Schwarzenegger, all pumped up and ready to
slash, stars in the surprisingly successful Conan the
with his bare hands (The punch-a-horse-unconscious
bit has been done before, but Conan also bashes a
camel over the head for good measure). He still
speaks in that preposterous Austrian accent: "Quick!
Grab de chool!" he says, where most actors would
have said, "Quick ! Grab the jewel!"
Conan is improved to the degree that he has been
lightened up considerably. He now has a sense of
humor, or at the very least, is given funny things to
say. Early in the'movie, Conan and his sidekick are
surrounded by warriors:
ONE NIGHT ONLY Villella speaks on dance
DETROIT CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
"TAMBRINES and dances duringspeech
TO GLORY" during
AMusical Comedy by Lanston Hughes By Pete Williams Through his adolescence, Villella went from being an
awkward spectator in his sister's ballet class - "There were
Featuring a Cast of 25 Singers 40 giggling girls, my mother, and me," he related - to
and Dancers in a PPARENTLY, Edward Villella plans to make the most accepting the art of ballet as something he loved.
LIVE ON-STAGE EXTRAVAGANZA of his Ann Arbor debut. This is the first appearance in "I was a snot-nosed, rough-house kid," he said. "And it
the City of Trees for the 25-year veteran of the New York City impressed the hell out of me that I could move with
SATURDAY, JULY 21 Ballet, and if Sunday night's performance by the elegance."
dancer/choreographer/master teacher is any Villella also related the first interaction he had with the
indication of what Villella has planned for us, the dance famous Russian ballet dancer and choreographer George
Michigan Box Office community should hope it is not his last. Balanchine. The meeting took place after his sister had
T 68 4 Though commonly considered a dancer, Villella devoted auditioned and been accepted into Balanchine's school. He
Theatre 668-8480 much of the night to lecturing the audience on how and why said that the fact that he was male ina time where American
he does what he does. Those who paid the $8 admission price considdncers were a commodity helped his case
to come to the Power Center got a close up look at the "My mother mentioned to him that she had a son at home
Students & Seniors: $5, 6. motivations, artistry, and history of the man who has earned who was... slightly interested in ballet," Villella said. "And
the distinction of being the most celebrated American male his response was, 'A son? A boy? Can he walk? Bring him
ballet artist of all time. in.' Villella would later accept a job at the New York City
Villella's lecture was obviously not rehearsed and the Ballet to work under Balanchine for a great part of his
feeling of spontaneity created by his relaxed and impromptu dancing career.
THE DAILY attitude gave the audience a feeling of direct contact. Villella daingecaredgb
made everyone feel as though he were involved in a one-on- .
CL A SSIF IEDS one cnat about ballet. The material he chose to talk about identity exclusive of Victorian-age European ballet. "We
ARE A GREAT was basic enough to keep the attention of those not well didn't have the past in this country, so we were free to
WAY T GETinformed with the intricacies of his art form, but at the same invent," he said. "Balanchine gave us a way to approach
ATOES TStime, it gave enough insight into his expertise to interest American dance."
FAST RESULTS those in the audience more appreciative of ballet. Villella described that the new approach as "neo-
CALL 764-0557 Villella also included a modest account of his own history classical," a sharper, clearer, and quicker style of dance
as a dancer. Apparently, he was introduced to ballet by his than classical European choreography.
mother as a way to keep an accident-prone son out of trouble. See VILLELLA, Page 11