Review – Conan the Barbarian

Recycling is defined by as “to treat or process (used waste or materials) as to make suitable for reuse”. In 1982, ‘Conan the Barbarian’ was a good take on pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard’s creation, largely thanks to director John Milius and the bulked up Arnold Schwarzenegger. The sequel ‘Conan the Destroyer’ wasn’t the character’s finest hour, but the films together have become cult classics.

Jump to 2011, and ‘Conan the Barbarian’ has been put through the Hollywood recycling system. Has the process resulted in something suitable for reuse? Sadly, no. ‘Conan the Barbarian’ is a film that, due to its poor quality, should have gone straight to DVD. By capitalising on the gimmick of 3D, it has earned a theatrical release so it can dumb down the widest audience possible.

Conan (Jason Momoa) is a warrior who ventures across the mythical world of Hyboria to stop the despicable warlord Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) from unleashing a great evil. Zym is linked to Conan’s dark past, so it’s not only a quest to save the world, but also to seek revenge.

There are a small number of satisfying action set pieces in ‘Conan the Barbarian’ – including a great fight scene involving a young Conan carving up savages. The battle scenes are bloody and bodily fluids explode out of people, but it’s nothing but overkill to cover up the film’s many mistakes. The violence is so over the top that ‘Conan the Barbarian’ sets a new world record for the most number of horses that get punched in the face in a film.

The plot is thrown aside for severed limbs and, outside of the fight sequences, the characters grunt from location to location demonstrating abysmal acting. Dishonorable mentions to Momoa, Lang, Rachel Nichols, Rose McGowan, Ron Pearlman and the WWE superstars who served as extras.

I didn’t see the film in 3D, but you can see director Marcus Nispel (head honcho at the Hollywood recycling plant) pandering to the medium with everything from arrows, ninja stars and lower intestines flying at the audience. If it weren’t for the 3D release, the film would have never hit the front of a cinema screen, and it’s a shoddy way to cash in on a fading fad.

‘Conan the Barbarian’ will eventually find its audience, and people will invent drinking games around it and dress up for midnight screenings. It will be remembered by the cult of terrible and no one else.



The Popcorn Junkie