Allow me a small disclaimer regarding Conan the Barbarian. I am not wholly familiar with Conan or his mythology; yes, I have read my share of REH’s works but Conan never really called out to me so I decided to go see the movie, ignoring the many pleas from friends to ignore this travesty.
…Boy, I wish I had listened.
If you want a quickie review without any spoilers, I’d give this a C. I took a girl with me who didn’t know anything about Conan other than there was a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 80’s and she too, gave it a C. *Spoilers and plot lines ahead*
I was in the mood for the rippling pectorals of Jason Momoa and fresh on the heels of my Game of Thrones Khal Drogo love, I went into the movie lusty with anticipation. The screening was in 3D, which I abhor, but I was pleasantly surprised with the use of 3D in the opening sequence/prologue. After that, it was wholly unnecessary and unused.We are informed that there was a crown/mask thing of sorts that granted powers to the Asheron king who was subsequently murdered, and various tribes kept pieces of the crown to keep it from ever being reforged. Enter Cimmeria, where we see a battle raging and a pregnant lady pierced in the stomach. There is no end to the dubious amounts of gore and violence in these scenese and it is awesome. Pregnant lady we find out is Conan’s mother and holy C-section, Batman, Conan’s father (a wonderful but horribly underused Ron Perlman) cuts Conan from his mother’s womb. He lifts baby (totally fake baby, btw) to the sky a la The Lion King and we get some glimpses into Conan’s childhood. Young Conan is ridiculously badass and again, the gratuitous violence and gore here is appreciated. Unfortunately these scenes of awesome only last about 15 minutes of the film before heading into “I MUST HAVE VENGEANCE!” territory.
Cue the power hungry warlod, Khalar Zym who is searching for the last piece of the Asheron crown. He brings his scary little witch child to Cimmeria and together they find the piece (hidden under a patch of floorboard. That is TOTALLY where I would have hid a piece of otherwordly crown!) and leave Conan struggling to save his father. Conan’s dad gives a little speech and sacrifices himself for Conan but I did not shed one tear for him.
This should tell you a lot because I ALWAYS cry.
The movie skips forward x amount of years and we learn Conan has been thieving and living amongst pirates and now he’s traveling Hyboria setting slaves free. Clad in only a leathery skirt thingie and a burgundy cloak, Jason Momoa is certainly attractive and muscley enough to give Arnold a run for his money except he’s not as greased up. This adult Conan seems to be all about fuckin’ whores and kicking ass and he’s just about out of whores. There are several fights he gets in to (all of them kind of meh) and I notice he seems to have Christian Bale/Batman syndrome and speaks in a growling stupid voice. He learns Zym is looking for someone so he sets off to find him and exact his vengeance. Zym is indeed looking for a pureblooded descendent of the Asheron necromancers and finds it inside of Tamara, a porcelain skinned redhead who is a monk. Zym’s scary witch child daughter has grown into an almost unrecognizable Rose McGowan who is sultry and creepy at the same time. It’s also revealed that Zym is looking for this pure blood girl so he can use her as a vessel to resurrect his dead wife with the crown’s power.
Conan finds Tamara first, who has run away from the city Zym is ransacking to find her, and they engage in some fiery wordplay which results in Conan stuffing rags into her mouth to shut her up. He catapults a henchman he’s captured into Zym’s camp inviting him to a confrontation. This goes badly as witch girl throws a curved knife dipped in poison and this causes Conan to lose the first fight in his life and Tamara is taken to Zym’s lair. As you can expect, Conan triumphs, drops the girl off in her home town (AFTER a token sex scene in a cave) and roll credits.
This isn’t a deep movie that requires a ton of thought. The plot is beyond simple and I’ll suggest you get an IQ test if you have trouble following it.
The soundtrack is okay, not overly awesome, nor is it overly boring.
The main actors give a decent performance, but the supporting cast ridiculously overacts in portions of the film.
In my opinion, save this movie until there’s absolutely nothing on TV and you go to the video store. Rent it only if there’s nothing else you want to see or if you feel like drooling over man pecs.