‘Conan the Barbarian’ sucked. I’m not going to sugarcoat it Kansas City, this remake of the film that put Arnold Schwarzenegger on the acting map does no one who is unfortunately in it, or worked behind the camera, any favors. Honestly, at some point the producers of this film should have saved themselves the anguish of having their names attached to this theatrical disaster and either shelved the whole project or made it a straight to DVD release.
The story is a mess, but one doesn’t typically go to movies titled ‘Conan the Barbarian’ because they expect a coherent plot, but just the same it would have been nice if it delivered because that would have taken the sting out of everything else. There is so much wrong with this film I don’t know even where to begin. I suppose I should note that this remake seems to have taken bits and pieces of other movies of the fantasy genre and thrown them altogether in hopes that the film would make a passable cinematic gumbo but no such luck.
To start everything off Morgan Freeman (I picture Freeman taking the money and laughing his way to the bank) narrates an inexplicable story about how some death mask was made and how the whole civilized world was under the control of an evil empire until the barbarian tribes defeated the empire and the death mask was disassembled and given to each barbarian tribe for safe keeping. I’m sure I’m giving a simplified version of events but if you are sitting in the audience you immediately know you shouldn’t have purchased a ticket for this show, let alone paid the price to see it in 3D.
From there the film tells the story about how Conan was born on the battlefield where his mother who was in labor is fighting before being knifed. Why exactly is she fighting, I don’t know but she needs an impromptu Cesarean performed by none other than her ‘Sons of Anarchy’ husband Ron Perlman (I think Perlman is contractually obligated to star in every piece of fantasy poo that is burped out by third rate film producers who probably have ties to the Russian mob). She lives long enough to see her babe and then promptly dies of her wounds after naming her son Conan. Flash forward a few years and Daddy Perlman is offering the young boys of the tribe an opportunity to either fight or haunt (I forgot which) but they have to finish first in a race while keeping an unbroken egg in their mouths. Three guesses who wins? Yuppers, he is the champion who not only finishes first but also manages to fight off some creepy looking tribe that aims to invade their village. This is probably the best scene in the movie.
Soon afterwards Conan’s father dies and their piece of the mask is stolen. This leaves Conan (Jason Mamoa, ‘Game of Thrones’ Khal Drogo) to grow up fighting and whoring his way until as an adult he runs across one of the men who murdered his father…and yada, yada, ya. He meets and has sex with a young necromancer. He defeats the main villain (Stephen Lang who also played the villain in ‘Avatar’) responsible for his father’s death in a one to one battle which doesn’t make much sense since the man is much older and one can assume Conan is in good shape. Oh, and somehow the villain’s witch daughter (Rose McGowan) dies before they can use the necromancer’s blood to bond the pieces of the ancient bone mask to bring her mother back from the dead. I suppose I should also make note that there is a hint of incest, however the father makes it plain that he prefers his dead wife over his living daughter… so I guess the filmmakers were implying that the heart wants what the heart wants.
BTW, special shout out to McGowan who used her ‘I was raised in a cult’ to make it into ‘People’ magazine. When an actress is willing to exploit her background in a cult for movie promotion she deserves praise.
I was sadden that Momoa starring role as Conan was such a bust. After his almost identical in ‘Game of Thrones’ I was rooting for him. Plus he and Lisa Bonnet are an item and I have always liked Lisa Bonnet.
Even though I was quite aware that a movie with the name ‘Conan’ in the title was going to have a body count I wasn’t prepared for so much violence. It’s not even fun fantasy violence, it is just vicious acts that drag on to the point of boredom – severed head rolling on the dirt, wake me when it’s over. Throughout the film I noticed several horses falling and my first thought of course was that I hoped they were okay and I was impressed by their stunts, however as the credits rolled and Momoa’s acting career went down the drain, I read that the movie was filmed in Bulgaria and that practically every name attached to the production besides the main acting jobs sounded Bulgarian. Thus I waited to see that American Humane Association trademarked stamp of approval informing audiences “no animals were harmed” during the production of the film, but that never came. So after witnessing everything that was horrible about ‘Conan the Barbarian’ I have to say knowing that some of the horses may have been inured definitely places this version of ‘Conan’ on my worst movie list of 2011.
If you have fond memories of the first ‘Conan’ and found it to be campy fun back in the day, you will be severely disappointed with this remake. I don’t think it will even play well on the small screen. Just skip this film if offers nothing interesting.