Reviews for the Easily Distracted:
Conan the Barbarian

conan0819.jpg
Title: Conan the Barbarian

You're...You're Giving This A Positive Review, Aren't You? I am. Because if I don't stand up for hack directors and the beefcake they cast in their movies, who will?

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three Thulsa Dooms out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Conan the Cimmerian (Jason Momoa) fights, drinks and fornicates his way across Hyborian-era Earth in search of the man who killed his father.

Is It True Marcus Nispel Has Never Directed An Original Property? Not a one, unless the video for Amy Grant's "House of Love" counts.

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Really, who cares? Khalar Zym, a bad guy bent on world domination, kills young Conan's dad (played with dour paycheck-mindedness by Ron Perlman). Conan grows into a fearsome reaver/thief, and picks up Zym's trail when he chances across Tamara (Rachel Nichols), the "pureblood" Zym seeks to complete the ritual that will turn him into a god. It's basically a combination of the plots of the original Conan and Conan the Destroyer, only somehow goofier (even given the absence of Grace Jones and Wilt Chamberlain).

What Is Best In Life? You wouldn't know from this movie. That whole thing about enemy crushing and women's lamentation is sadly absent.

"Critical" Analysis: I understand some (okay, lots of) people are jumping on Marcus Nispel's remake of Conan by complaining about the lack of plot. Because the original offered such a compelling narrative, I guess.

Look, I enjoy Arnold's big 1982 coming out party as much as anyone, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking the original Conan the Barbarian was a classic of Western cinema. Ponderous, meandering and occasionally incoherent, the original Conan the Barbarian was notable for two things (no, not Arnold's pecs): Basil Poledouris's score and giving James Earl Jones a mullet.

Nispel's Conan starts with narration by Morgan Freeman (!) and a battlefield C-section and never really lets up from there. Young Conan grows up full of rage -- fire untempered by ice, as his father Corin describes him -- which still serves him well as he single-handedly kills five of Zym's scouts, then deposits their heads at his father's feet. It's not enough to stop the inevitable, when Zym's forces descend upon the Cimmerian village, slaughtering everyone and leaving Conan for dead.

What is Zym's motivation? According to Mr. Freeman, he's seeking all the pieces of a mystical mask that, when combined with the blood of one descended from the mystical sorcerers of Acheron (who enslaved the world back in the day), will confer unspeakable powers upon its wearer. As plots go, it's a hell of a D&D campaign.

So we follow Conan on his pursuit of Zym through places whose names aren't important, and meet a supporting cast whose names we don't care about, because this bare-bones framework is simply the matrix by which gratuitous R-rated mayhem is delivered. Conan is a consummate killing machine, and the bloodshed only lets up long enough for the audience to enjoy some gratuitous nudity.

Conan the Barbarian is as pure an '80s movie as I've seen in 22 years. Momoa rampages for two hours through a cavalcade of blood-soaked encounters and bared breasts, even enjoying the mandatory '80s-style second act sex scene with Tamara, before his final encounter with Zym (and Zym's evil daughter Marique, an unrecognizable Rose McGowan). It drags a bit at the end, as Nispel incorporates the Pirates of the Caribbean trope of having people fight on comically unstable surfaces, but come on, those movies made, like, 800 billion dollars.

One thing I can say, without reservation, is this version of Conan is truer to Robert E. Howard's literary depiction of the character as a thief and pirate as well as a bulging murder machine.

This isn't great cinema, but so what? Are you sick of PG-13 genre films watering down your sanguinary enjoyment? Have you missed scenes of beefy guys knocking out horses? Do you like movies about gladiators barbarians? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, give Conan a shot.

See It/Rent It/Skip It: See it. Ignore the pointless 3-D and enjoy some days of high adventure.

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11 comments
Ming OnMongo
Ming OnMongo

The thing is, crummy acting or no, faithfulness to Howard's writing or not, you still WANTED to believe in Arnie as Conan. But lacking that basic charisma, Momoa just doesn't pull it off, no matter the rest.

Guest
Guest

The original Conan movie was pretty close to the original 12 novels penned by REH. It will be interesting to see how this is even closer.

Mighty_Adam
Mighty_Adam

Man Arnies barbarian was classic. Arnies Destroyer was classic as well, albeit classic trash but this third installment is somewhere in between, although it leans closer towards the Destroyer than the Barbarian.

Warren
Warren

Awesome, I loved the movie!  God of War anyone?

Trev
Trev

Ahhh I think you all forget it's a movie and the main character is a complete look a like to the comic so good choice. An awesome movie to watch in big screen and honestly remember it's a movie. I am kinda getting bored with comments about reality in a movie. You want some reality join the army.

Samsquamsh88
Samsquamsh88

Twist my rubber arm! I think in all probability this review is more fun than the actual movie.

TimberShivers
TimberShivers

Great review. Most other reviews I've read either A)knock the 3d (which isnt even the actual film) through their whole review or B)Give the 1982 film way too much credit for essentially stomping on all the source material.

Guest
Guest

Actually, no, I wasn't fond of Arnie as Conan, for the reasons cited above.  Conan was NOT mindless by any stretch.   I'll see Momoa, just because it IS Conan, and he does look more like the Buscema or Chan artwork from the Savage Sword days.    But, honestly, until someone does the plot for Tower of the Elephant, it still won't be CONAN.

Sabre
Sabre

They were nothing like them, a lumbering, dazed oaf in a he-man loincloth made a slave, taken to the east, trained by Mongolian Ninjas......no. Conan of the books was lightning fast, enormously strong and menacing, not to mention highly intelligent, multilingual and a military genius. he was a self made man not a slave(unless you count a brief stint in Hyperboria when he was younger) and wore the garb of the nations he was in, usually the hauberk, cuirass etc of a mercenary, not fluffy pigskin undies and ug boots. So many pseudo-critics now salivate over the opportunity to bash a movie for it's cliched, unoriginal plot. Newsflash, unless it's a sci-fi gimmick, nothing is original, only certain things appeal to our primal passions and the hero's journey, seeking revenge and the death of the bad guy resonates with all of us, well, all except the metro-hipster nerd pseudo-critics whose childhood bad guys resemble too closely the brawny Cimmerian and now is their chance for a big power-trip-laden payback.So, thank you Pete Vonder Haar for a witty, hilarious review.

Xan4silk
Xan4silk

Pretty close to the depiction penned by REH????  I agree with tanaich in that there are so many things wrong with that sentence. 

taranaich
taranaich

There are so many things wrong with that sentence.

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