Monday, September 5, 2011

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Conan and his sassy black friendSeen: At the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square.

A hurricane was fast-approaching but that didn't stop me from going out for a movie with a friend who loves Jason Momoa. That's dedication. Conan the Barbarian: It was a time of humongous bare chests and big swords and even bigger beards. Also, magic. Conan (Momoa) is born out of war into a battle-worn medieval tribe and as a teenager he witnesses his father's (Ron Pearlman) death at the hands of Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), a totally evil dude who's trying to gain godlike powers so he can resurrect his dead wife. Conan spends years searching for Zym and his sorceress daughter (Rose McGowan) so he can exact his revenge, and finally finds the key to Zym's nefarious plot in the personage of Tamara (Rachel Nichols), a feisty monk-in-training.

This is a very silly movie, and sometimes it knows it and sometimes it doesn't. The gore is pretty extreme and there are some good action sequences- especially the magic sand people battle in the middle-, so it feels like it wants to be a serious action movie at points. But then the story is so ridiculous and the acting so hammy I have to think that at least some of the cast knew how ridiculous the movie would turn out. Rose McGowan (nigh-unrecognizable) most definitely knew, and looks like she's having a ton of fun in those crazy get-ups as she hisses and skulks through all of her scenes. Stephen Lang was in on it too, I think, so any segment with the bad guys was just a good time. Also maybe these father/daughter villains were sleeping together? It seemed pretty obvious to me.

Because the tone is all over the place and the script and characterization just reek of cliche and predictability, Conan is not a very good movie. But it's so ludicrous that I had to appreciate it in some way. It certainly had me smiling at many points (whether that was the intention or not) and I did think some of the visual action ideas were legitimately interesting. And Jason Momoa is shirtless literally the entire running time, so I guess that counts for something. He's so muscular his chest is like bigger than mine though, which kind of freaks me out.


Pair This Movie With: I haven't seen the original in ages but that's a viable option. I know Schwarzenegger punches a camel. Or maybe Prince of Persia?


  1. This is a very entertaining review. It also confirms my suspicions that I have zero interest in seeing Conan. (I can find my beefcake in better movies.)

    Also, can I just say how sad it is that Rose McGowan is being used this way? Shouldn't she be, like, an A-list star instead of, "Hey, look, it's Rose McGowan, what's she doing here?" A small Hollywood tragedy, if you ask me.

  2. The film is dumb, hackneyed and, well, just plain bad - much like the 1982 original - but because it knows and makes fun of that, it plays for a smart and entertaining ride. Good Review Alex!

  3. Andreas: Haha thanks! Rose McGowan is so good, I wish she had a better career. I hate that the BARBARELLA remake was canned just because studios wouldn't do it with her in the lead because she isn't famous enough or whatever. At least it looks like she's having fun in CONAN though, so that's something?

    Dan: Yeah I was surprised how entertaining it was! And thanks!

  4. I recently saw this movie and I liked it. But after three decades one would have anticipated films to have become superior to the previous ones. I feel that Arnold Schwarzenegger’ Conan can hardly be improved. The audience surely has not waited for this sort of follow-up. But this movie is still a better way of spending some time.