Movie Review: Conan The Barbarian

Owing primarily to having a great deal of free time after my dentist appointment yesterday, I decided to go see Conan The Barbarian. Ever since I saw the first trailer for the film months ago, I have been looking forward to it. It looked sleek and vicious, and something about it made me feel confident in hoping that it would be more than just an action movie with swords that just happens to have the name of Robert E. Howard’s most famous character.

I would imagine that most people who have seen the movie would immediately compare and contrast it to the 1982 film of the same name, staring Arnold Schwarzenegger, who I guess is one of my favorite action movie guys, even if all his best work was arguably before my time. Sadly, I will not be doing that here, as I can barely remember anything at all from the older movie, and it is entirely possible that I never watched the entire thing, and that I may be attributing certain memories of it to the 1997 film Kull the Conqueror. Why would I confuse Hercules with the Terminator? I don’t know, I was a kid at the time.*

Therefore, I will be judging the newer Conan on its own merits, and unfortunately, there is little in the way of merit to discuss. My overall impression of the film is that it had some good ideas and structure, but was ultimately failed by its creators. I could tell that the writers were familiar with the source material, as I could see hints of it throughout the movie, but every time it seemed like they could dig a little deeper and make this into an actual movie about Conan the Cimmerian, the character who created the savage yet honorable barbarians we know today from our innumerable video games and TV shows and graphic novels, they chose instead to stick with making an achingly simplistic action movie with a main character that happens to be named Conan.

Part of me feels that if they had used what was written for this movie as a skeletal plot, filled it in with the sort of details that make Conan who he really is, fleshed out the other characters, added some twists and turns and other things, that they could have had a damn good television series on their hands, as well as a solid season or two of plot material.  It seems to me that a lot of critics of the movie seem to find the plot and actors irredeemable, and on this I completely disagree. Instead, I think that taking what they had and condensing it into a two hour movie simply wasn’t the best idea.

I don’t think Jason Momoa or any of the other actors did a poor job at their characters, but rather that they simply weren’t given real characters to act as. Sadly the most well-crafted character was the big bad’s creepy sorceress of a daughter. Nor do I believe that the movie failed to become what it set out to be; the producers obviously wanted a brainless action film, and some unfortunate writers with bills to pay were forced to butcher what could have been something truly spectacular.

If you do go see Conan the Barbarian, keep your expectations low and you might just enjoy it. Also don’t bother seeing it in 3D; they didn’t do a very good job with utilizing the technology, and occasionally my glasses slipped to reveal that a number of scenes weren’t 3D at all (I forget if that’s normal in a 3D film or not).

* Incidentally I watched a great deal of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess back in the day. And now I own a sword. Coincidence? You decide.

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3 Responses to Movie Review: Conan The Barbarian

  1. RS says:

    That’s right, every movie/TV show worth its salt starts with good WRITING. =^)

  2. Dewey Arts says:

    Well put from a terrific blogger

  3. Pingback: AJBulldis’s Top Ten Posts Of 2011 « Bulldis in a China Shop

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