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Review: Conan The Barbarian

Aug. 23, 2011by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Conan (Jason Momoa) avenges his father's death at the hands of a mad warlord (Stephen Lang), on a quest to become a God.

REVIEW: CONAN THE BARBARIAN begins with a shot that lets you know exactly what kind of film you're watching. As Morgan Freeman (!) narrates the beginning of CONAN's tale (a la Mako), he describes Conan, as being born of battle. Just in case you weren't sure if old Morgan was speaking metaphorically, we get a pov shot, inside Conan's mother's womb of baby Conan, waiting to be born as a sword rips open his mother's womb. Cheesy? Yes, but also balsy, so I'll give it that.

From there, CONAN THE BARBARIAN settles into a somewhat decent 100 minute yarn, that's more about action and adventure than the somewhat Wagnerian John Millius original, which gave us an iconic Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead. If anything, this new CONAN is more like the sequel, CONAN THE DESTROYER, albeit with a healthy dose of ultraviolence and depravity.


If this new 21st century CONAN THE BARBARIAN was a Starz original series like SPARTACUS: BLOOD & SAND, I'd probably be into it, but as a movie it feels low rent (this, despite a rumored $90 Million budget). For me, the best part of the film is the opening twenty minutes, where we see young Conan as he learns the secret of steel from his wise father (Ron Perlman- riding a career high with his awesome stint on SONS OF ANARCHY). Young Conan is played by a thirteen year old martial artist named Leo Howard, and damn if his big action sequence, where he takes on four cannibals with a mixture of parkour, martial arts, and swordplay, isn't the best part of the film.

It actually feels like a letdown once Jason Momoa takes over, as his brawny swordplay is never quite as visceral compared to what we got in the first half hour. While he's not Schwarzenegger (who could be?), Momoa is fine in his own right. He's charismatic, and his roguish charm gives the character a unique style that's unlike the first two films (but more like the Robert E. Howard books, from what I gather). Despite being loaded with action, it's all kinda boring, as it's nothing you haven't seen dozens of times before.


It doesn't help that the story is so ho-hum. Stephen Lang makes a boring villain, and his quest to reassemble a mask that will give him God-like powers is old hat. It certainly doesn't compare to James Earl Jones' iconic Thulsa Doom from the original. I also despised the vampy Rose McGowan, who chews the scenery, but has some downright atrocious lines to deliver (probably not her fault though- this ain't Shakespeare).

The obligatory love interest is played by the striking Rachel Nichols, who's a pure-blooded priestess Lang has to sacrifice in order to bring his dead witch wife back to life. Nichols is incredibly sexy, but probably too contemporary to really work in a film like this, and her chemistry with Momoa is non-existent.

All in all, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, to me anyways, is a boring, disposable action flick- although I do have to give it points for some decent photography (although the 3D conversion is predictably atrocious), and the fact that it went for the hard- R rating. It's never terrible, but it's not that memorable either. Momoa may yet star in a great Conan film (or not, as the opening weekend take was lackluster), but this ain't it.

Source: JoBlo.com

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9:16AM on 08/23/2011

Tired of Shitty Reviews of FUN ACTION MOVIES THAT STICK MORE TO THEIR SOURCE THAN THE ORIGINAL!

I'm kinda getting annoyed at the amount of bad rap this movie is getting. I watched it in theatres and completely enjoyed it with only one or two minor gripes. Probably because I knew what I was getting into. I knew that they it would basically be a fun action movie along the lines of Michael Bays Transformers. As mentioned above, I only had a few minor gripes in the movie and those were namely the rock score, the animated blood, and the fact that the theatre I was in decided to ramp up the
I'm kinda getting annoyed at the amount of bad rap this movie is getting. I watched it in theatres and completely enjoyed it with only one or two minor gripes. Probably because I knew what I was getting into. I knew that they it would basically be a fun action movie along the lines of Michael Bays Transformers. As mentioned above, I only had a few minor gripes in the movie and those were namely the rock score, the animated blood, and the fact that the theatre I was in decided to ramp up the volume so my ears bled a little bit. Jason Momoa was FANTASTIC as Conan as he fit Robert E. Howards' literary form to a TEE. No offence to Arnies' Conan but it was the script that made his and took the idea of the barbarian seperating itself from it's original source. As a FUN ACTION MOVIE that sticks more to its source than the original, the movie is certainly worth watching and its unfortunate that people don't realize this enough to give it a shot.
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2:50PM on 08/23/2011
It's funny because most critics are inconsistent as well as most the ppl who put negative comments about ever movie it seems.
It's funny because most critics are inconsistent as well as most the ppl who put negative comments about ever movie it seems.
9:48AM on 08/23/2011
Well, The Arrow loved it and since he is a Conan fan, I'm gonna have to trust his opinion on this film over yours Chris.

I do agree with Kier0775 very much though. Critics, those deemed to be professional movie reviewers are continuing to compare this to the fairly miserable Arnold film instead of the actual source material. When done so, you find it is actually very well done and faithful.
Well, The Arrow loved it and since he is a Conan fan, I'm gonna have to trust his opinion on this film over yours Chris.

I do agree with Kier0775 very much though. Critics, those deemed to be professional movie reviewers are continuing to compare this to the fairly miserable Arnold film instead of the actual source material. When done so, you find it is actually very well done and faithful.
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+13
10:04AM on 08/23/2011
When I saw the "foetus POV of the sword piercing Conan's mother's womb" shot, I knew this was gonna be my kind of movie. And it was. Sorry you didn't care for it man! I fucking loved it! As everybody knows by now...:) CROMMMMMM!
When I saw the "foetus POV of the sword piercing Conan's mother's womb" shot, I knew this was gonna be my kind of movie. And it was. Sorry you didn't care for it man! I fucking loved it! As everybody knows by now...:) CROMMMMMM!
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2:47PM on 08/23/2011
I thought your review was way better! I loved the movie and I have read the books. I still think Conan hasn't got the movie he well deserves. Though I thought Jason did a great job but I think Arnold reminded me more of Conan. If they would of dyed his hair jet black he would look perfect as Conan. Plus I like all the Conan films even Destroyer for it had the most fantasy element which the books are filled with but would of been better if it was R rated.
I thought your review was way better! I loved the movie and I have read the books. I still think Conan hasn't got the movie he well deserves. Though I thought Jason did a great job but I think Arnold reminded me more of Conan. If they would of dyed his hair jet black he would look perfect as Conan. Plus I like all the Conan films even Destroyer for it had the most fantasy element which the books are filled with but would of been better if it was R rated.
10:57AM on 08/23/2011
I was just going to say that I'd take Arrow's review over anyone one else's, hands down. No offense Chris.
I was just going to say that I'd take Arrow's review over anyone one else's, hands down. No offense Chris.
+9
10:48AM on 08/23/2011
Not sure if people on here actually read ANY REH original stories. This movie had NO story. I am a Conan fan, I have a Conan tattoo and ALL the Robert E Howard ORIGINAL stories. Plus I have every Conan related comic/book that Dark Horse has released since they acquired the property, so I know what I am talking about. This movie has no soul at all. Its just mindless action which may be enjoyable to watch but Conan DESERVES a better movie not Transformers 3 (for that matter TF deserves a
Not sure if people on here actually read ANY REH original stories. This movie had NO story. I am a Conan fan, I have a Conan tattoo and ALL the Robert E Howard ORIGINAL stories. Plus I have every Conan related comic/book that Dark Horse has released since they acquired the property, so I know what I am talking about. This movie has no soul at all. Its just mindless action which may be enjoyable to watch but Conan DESERVES a better movie not Transformers 3 (for that matter TF deserves a better movie).
Conan has been around a long time and the reason for that is that he is a GREAT CHARACTER. Not just a guy who slaughters men.
The original movie, while not REHs, still had story and tone, with some depth and a bit of philosophy thrown in also.
This movie was a 16 year olds interpretation of Conan. Not what Conan actually is.
The movie on its own, call it The Barbarian or something, then its ok, maybe a 3/5 maybe a bit more, but as a CONAN movie, this not very good 2/5 at best.
I must say that I think Jason Momoa was actually good with the few lines he had and I believe with some retooling he could be a great Conan.
Its true that Arnie wasnt REH accurate, but at least he had a character.
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+6
10:49AM on 08/23/2011
It is just me or does the review seem better then the rating?
It is just me or does the review seem better then the rating?
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-9
12:28PM on 08/23/2011
Yep, you hit all the nails on their heads (probably drawing giant spurts of blood from them as well, considering). Terrible interpretation of REH's Conan (as j-man has expertly detailed)... I mean, I guess I enjoyed it, but only because I was laughing at how bad it was. Some of the special effects were pretty cool, but just as many if not more were embarrassingly bad. I felt like all the ugly mouthpieces were about to fall out of the actors' mouths.
Yep, you hit all the nails on their heads (probably drawing giant spurts of blood from them as well, considering). Terrible interpretation of REH's Conan (as j-man has expertly detailed)... I mean, I guess I enjoyed it, but only because I was laughing at how bad it was. Some of the special effects were pretty cool, but just as many if not more were embarrassingly bad. I felt like all the ugly mouthpieces were about to fall out of the actors' mouths.
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2:05PM on 08/23/2011
It was a piece of shit.
It was a piece of shit.
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2:28PM on 08/23/2011

Saw this yesterday

I thought it was decent, but it definitely wasn't the great movie that the Arrow made it out to be.
I thought it was decent, but it definitely wasn't the great movie that the Arrow made it out to be.
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2:50PM on 08/23/2011
ok we got Conan out of the way, need more 80's redo's right? so where is the Jason Statham Beastmaster movie?
ok we got Conan out of the way, need more 80's redo's right? so where is the Jason Statham Beastmaster movie?
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3:27PM on 08/23/2011

Highlander Remake

that would be the only remake worth redoing. they screwed it up with number 2 really badly and it has potential.
that would be the only remake worth redoing. they screwed it up with number 2 really badly and it has potential.
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3:53PM on 08/23/2011

POS

Biggest disappointment of the Summer. Any time the writers were even the slightest bit unsure of what the characters were to say, they wrote in "hold sword up and yell". Some things I just couldn't overlook: 1.the supposed king of the bandits was absolutely useless. he had an unexplained key ring with a key for every door in the fortress and had maybe three minutes of screen time, should have been on the cutting room floor. 2.Conan goes from cliffs overlooking the ocean to banging his love
Biggest disappointment of the Summer. Any time the writers were even the slightest bit unsure of what the characters were to say, they wrote in "hold sword up and yell". Some things I just couldn't overlook: 1.the supposed king of the bandits was absolutely useless. he had an unexplained key ring with a key for every door in the fortress and had maybe three minutes of screen time, should have been on the cutting room floor. 2.Conan goes from cliffs overlooking the ocean to banging his love interest in a hay bed in an unexplained farm house. 3. trick swords are retarded. any sword that extends with the push of a button, has any kind of chain or joint in it that allows you to use it like nunchuks, or turns from one sword into two swords, or one long sword with a handle in the middle has no place in this movie. I was almost digging the mid battle birthing til Pearlman holds the kid up and yells at the camera. And, imho the origin story from the original was exponentially better at establishing character than just giving narration that Conan grew up thieving and travelling.
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6:58PM on 08/23/2011
um ya that opening paragraph alone makes me realize how crappy this movie truly is & deserves to flop, thumbs me down all you want.
um ya that opening paragraph alone makes me realize how crappy this movie truly is & deserves to flop, thumbs me down all you want.
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-1
10:37PM on 08/23/2011
I would have given it a 6/10. Agree with Chris' review. AND I've read ALL of Howard's writing, AND ALL the comics from Marvel's 70's-roughly 90's run.
There just wasn't any soul in this movie. Even McGowan was a more convincing villain than Lang (who looked like a Mad Max reject).
I would have given it a 6/10. Agree with Chris' review. AND I've read ALL of Howard's writing, AND ALL the comics from Marvel's 70's-roughly 90's run.
There just wasn't any soul in this movie. Even McGowan was a more convincing villain than Lang (who looked like a Mad Max reject).
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