Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So… there’s this big barbaric style battle going on, right? A woman who looks to be a good nine months along is dealing death, but has taken some damage and her time is short. She tells her husband, Corin the Barbarian King (Ron Perlman), that she wants to see her child before she makes her exit. I thought Corin would ask something like ‘Are you sure about this baby?’, but no, Corin… without even looking… performs a battlefield C-section and yanks out the baby boy. The woman, with her dying words, names this boy Conan, Corin lifts this boy to sky… mind you there’s still a mad battle going on around them… and yells real loud. What’s amazing about this is this boy’s umbilical cord is cut and he’s circumcised. Corin did all of that, including the blind C-section, in a matter of seconds with nothing but his knife and not looking. Toughest woman ever, and Corin can perform surgical procedures that would make House do a double take. The movie is ‘Conan: The Barbarian’, and it is ridiculous. And it is violent. And it has titties. Who doesn’t want to see that?

Conan the boy (Leo Howard) had the misfortune of watching the completely evil Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) raid his village and slaughter everybody, while setting up a particularly gory end for young Conan to witness for his father. But Khalar did let the boy live. Was that a wise move? Of course it wasn’t. In the history of bad decisions, not murdering the eleven year old Conan is probably the worst.

The reason Khalar did all of this has something to do with a mask, which he now has, and some pure blood, which he doesn’t have, which will allegedly resurrect his wife and turn him into a god. He’s crazy. But he better get sane real quick because Conan has grown into a 6’5", muscle bound, silky smooth voiced ball of pure hostility (Jason Momoa) and he’s spent the better part of the last twenty years looking for this dude. In between doing this there are battles to fight, a crew of barbarians to manage, wenches to bed and skulls to implode… but that’s just something to do.

Then Conan gets the break he’s been waiting for. It’s involved, and of course it includes lots of imploding skulls, but Conan has learned that Khalar and his freaky

daughter Marique (Rose McGowan) are close to getting the Pure Blood which belongs to the planets hottest monk Tamara (Rachel Nichols). Khalar wants Tamara, Conan has Tamara… come and get her bro. Unfortunately Khalar doesn’t play fair when it comes to these things. Or anything for that matter. Some other stuff happens, including a little something between Conan and the monk Tamara which I thought would decrease her pure blood viability, but obviously virginity isn’t a requirement for pure blood back in those days. Regardless, it’s a swashbuckling adventure, the damsel must become distressed, the hero must try to rescue her, and an evil king will probably regret not killing that hostile eleven year old boy twenty years ago.

Directed by Marcus Nispel, we like this version of Conan just fine. It was plenty violent, it’s plenty stupid, it had plenty of action, it had plenty of brazen wenches and it didn’t seem as if this was a film that was taking itself too seriously. It wasn’t anything that I would call ‘camp’ but with Stephen Lang and Rose McGowan dialing up the cheese, they seemed to be having more fun pretending to be evil than actually being evil. My only question would be why Lionsgate decided to make this movie. Modern audiences have shown over and over and over again that they do not go to see movies like this. I do, but I’m not modern. I’m a throwback. I’m old school. A dinosaur. While there’s no sure bet in making any movie that audiences will flock to, your best bet is catering to suburban teenage girls. Which, in turn, will make suburban teenage boys go to these movies because modern teenage boys… well… let’s just say they are a disappointment. I was a teenage boy when the first Conan came out, and we were excited to see a violent R-rated movie with titties. But times have changed. Jason Momoa was fine as Conan, but I would’ve given to role to one of the punks that was in ‘Twilight’. Or Rupert Grint. Sounds silly, I know… but it’s a new day.

But all of that aside, in its current form I found this version of Conan damned entertaining. I saw the 2D version, noting that I am on record for my disdain for 3D, and I haven’t heard much good about the 3D version of this film, though I can’t comment it. Jason Momoa has a striking presence as Conan, though I gotta say that there’s something about Arnold Swarzenegger’s lack of command of the English language which worked better for the role of a barbarian, as opposed to Jason Momoa’s deep, smooth Quiet Storm disc jockey styled vocal intonations. And for a barbarian, dude had some really nice teeth. For the most part, performances in a movie like this are negligible, taking a back seat to the set pieces and action, which were pretty good, but Stephen Lang does know a thing or two about playing psychopaths and Rose McGowan’s combo of Jadzia Dax and Lady Deathstrike, with the Whoopi eyebrows and the reverse Oedipal complex was pretty inspirational as far as over the top goes.

Nispel didn’t attempt to copy the original, which is a good thing, the story is completely linear and doesn’t take a lot of chances and while there might be a flaw in logic here and there, it is a movie about a barbarian / supermodel with really nice teeth so this is to be expected. I was pleasantly surprised by the new ‘Conan’, and I wouldn’t mind seeing what skulls my man would implode in Part Two, but I’m guessing that’s unlikely.

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