Synopsis: The most legendary Barbarian of all time is back this Summer. Having thrived and evolved for eight consecutive decades in the public imagination- in prose and graphics, on the big screen and small, in games and properties of all kinds- Conanâs exploits in the Hyborian Age now come alive like never before in a colossal 3D action-adventure film.
A quest that begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon turns into an epic battle against hulking rivals, horrific monsters, and impossible odds, as Conan realizes he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil.
Release Date: August 19, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Conan the character, made iconic by Arnold Schwarzenegger on screen in the 1982 film Conan the Barbarian, has been re-imagined in the 2011 version of the same titled film. In this new outing Jason Momoa (from “Game of Thrones” and “Stargate Atlantis”) dons leather and fur to become Conan for a new generation of moviegoers. Not much has changed in the Conan universe, or with the character of Conan. The film begins as an origin story, displaying the birth of Conan on the battlefield, literally as his father rips him from his dying mother’s womb, and his first taste is not of his mother’s milk but of her blood. Flashforward some years later and a young Conan is living with his father Corin, played by the go-to-cult-movie-actor Ron Perlman, in the village of Cimmeria among families of Barbarian’s. Young Conan already has a taste for blood, and enjoys the pleasures of the kill–as is witnessed by viewer’s with his vicious attack on four savage enemies in the woods behind the village. When the village is attacked by Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), with his sorceress daughter in tow, Conan becomes an orphaned child, determined to avenge the death’s of his people.
This day of course surely comes many years later when Khalar and his now grown daughter, Marique (Rose McGowan), are scouring the land for the “pure of blood” woman who will breathe life into an ancient magical mask that empowers anyone who wears it to do as they wish–even bring people back from the dead. Aided by a voiceover performed by none other than Morgan Freeman, who goes uncredited (shocking!), we learn amidst a black blank screen, that Conan has spent the better part of his life “slaying, thieving, and surviving;” Conan is obviously not going to be a deep souled hero. Then Jason Momoa appears on screen in all of his hunky glory, and shiny bare skin with long tresses cascading down around his shoulders. Yes, Momoa’s Conan is nice to look at with his chiseled muscles and pretty but rough tempered masculine face. But when Conan opens his mouth to speak things get a tad bit silly.
The screenplay, written by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood, offers absolutely nothing in terms of depth of character, or even all that much story. The basics above cover it all, aside from the inevitable love-match between Conan and the pure blood Tamara (Rachel Nichols)–although love-match is a stretch as one night in the dirt and a few far-off glances is as much romance as you are going to get. The real bulk of the story in Conan The Barbarian (2011) is in the fighting. For every five minutes of “story” time there are ten consisting of battles, blood-spilling, and grunting. Conan The Barbarian is not a film as much as it is a vessel to exploit violence on screen. This is not what makes it easily forgettable, and avoided if possible, it is the fact that it has nothing to offer of substance for a viewer. Conan’s motto is “I live, I love, I slay, and I am content.” In the film he does live, he does love, he slays plenty, and he is quite content–as a viewer this leaves a great deal to be desired, even when going in you know to not expect anything more than an action-adventure movie where dialogue amounts to “barbarian, I don’t like you anymore.” If some originality had been thrown in to Conan The Barbarian it would fare better for a viewer, but even the much desired mask is a rip-off of the pod-alien (the one that attaches to the face and impregnates people) from Alien, tentacles and all.
The amount of fake-blood used in Conan The Barbarian could fill an olympic sized swimming pool. Every fight scene is laden with blood, and a variety of ways to kill someone amounting in the most amount of blood possible being sprayed or gushing onto the stone/dirt floor. There are the expected sword fights, and hand-to-hand wrestling fighting moves between Conan and Khalar, and anyone else Conan comes into contact with he does not like. There are also some fights between the ladies, as well as blood-spilling by the evil witch woman Marique (McGowan). A favorite scene involves Marique pricking the blood from women to find the “pure one.” Angered at none of them being the one she desires she takes her sharp metal clawed hand and slices a woman’s face open, Freddy Krueger style. A disgusting thing to witness for sure, but strangely exhilarating to watch as this she-devil’s pleasure in the act reverberates onto the viewer.
Conan The Barbarian will not disappoint to any degree for those desiring nonstop fighting and blood spilling moments. There is even a scene where a man has his nose cut off, and of course a shot of the nose lying on the ground is shown in close-up–who would want to pass up that opportunity? The only fault in the action sequences, or blood-spilling, is that of the editing. Rapid cut editing is the norm in such situations, as it aids in heightening the excitement and with keeping the action moving on screen from varying angles at every moment. Editor Ken Blackwell went a little overboard with the amount of time between cuts–he shaved off too much time. Many of the scenes move so quickly the eye cannot follow the movement, or characters, properly. It results in confusion, and not knowing where a character is, or who the good and bad guys are in the large battle scenes. Everything in Conan The Barbarian is just a tad too rapid, it takes away from the overall enjoyment of watching Conan and pals battle it out barbarian style.
Conan The Barbarian is not a good film. Nor is it a film I would ever recommend anyone watch. BUT it does have all the makings of a guilty pleasure and truth be told, I didn’t mind watching it. That being said I will admit to having an affinity towards the low-brow of cinema and therefore my personal taste cannot always be trusted, or admired, when not in “critic mode”. Now about being a guilty pleasure…
Conan The Barbarian is grossly violent, showcasing so many ways to kill someone in battle to make it the goriest possible so the part of you which craves as much is more than satiated. Then there is Jason Momoa. If fetishistic tendencies had to be reserved for one man’s body on screen Momoa would make a very good choice. Add to this his masochism–telling women to “sleep!”, “move!”, “be quiet!”, and the like without so much as a thought for their wellbeing; that surely works at the ladies, or a man’s depending on preference, subconscious desire developed from romance novel savages who fall in love with fair maidens to be controlled, forced into submission. Even the sorceress Marique and her over-sexed body and likeness to licking blood awakens something inside of you.
Conan The Barbarian can go in one of three ways. One, it can become a cult favorite of a film, destined for drinking games (drink when someone grunts!), and hours of laughter at the deadpan one-liners. Or it can fall into the “I love this movie but I am never telling anyone” category–making tons of money on DVD, or through rentals, for men and women alike for very different reasons. Lastly, it can be forgotten as a movie left to collect dust on a shelf in the Netflix warehouse. I am putting my money on number two, but one works just as well also.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Marcus NispelRandall EmmettJoe Gatta
- Producer(s): Avi LernerDanny LernerFredrik MalmbergThomas Dean DonnellyJoshua OppenheimerSean Hood
- Screenwriter(s): Jason Momoa (Conan)Stephen Lang (Khalar Zym)Rachel Nichols (Tamara)
- Story: Ron Perlman (Corin)
- Cast: Rose McGowan (Marique)Bob Sapp (Ukafa)Steven O’Donnell (Lucius) Ken BlackwellThomas KlossChris August
- Cinematographer: Tyler Bates
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA