If every single 80’s classic is being remade, there’s no reason for Howard the Duck not get a little one too.
A quest that begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon turns into an epic battle against hulking rivals, horrific monsters, and impossible odds, as Conan (Jason Momoa) realizes he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil.
So it seems like Hollywood is running out of any original ideas so they are practically remaking every 80’s film known to man. Sadly, they should have let this legendary Arnold flick alone.
The one thing that works for this re-work is that the action and gore is pretty freakin’ awesome. I loved just watching Conan slice up almost every single person that walked into his way and not give two shits about it after wards either. Another good thing about the action here is that I could actually tell just what the hell was going on because to be honest, so many action films come out nowadays and you can never know who is getting killed or who will be.
The movie is directed by Marcus Nispel, who is most well-known for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th reboots and the godawful Pathfinder. Conan the Barbarian has more in common with the latter, but it is thankfully a much better movie even if that doesn’t say much. Nispel’s direction here isn’t anything mesmerizing but he handles a lot of the action scenes very well whether it be a huge war going on, or Conan taking on a bunch of baddies, Nispel seems to have his head on the right track a lot.
However, when this movie is not killing people, it’s pretty weak in every aspect. The plot of this film has been done about 500 times before and probably a lot better and as the second half of this film comes around, the bloodshed tones down so we can actually understand these characters when we really don’t give a shit and just want Conan to pick up his sword and start chopping heads off. I hate when any film tries to do this because it usually takes so much away from the action, and here it’s just about 10 times worse.
The dialogue also tries to be so incredibly witty and smart but it just fails terribly, however, I don’t know what this film was trying to go for. The one-liners here are just terribly cheesy and just made me laugh-out-loud but I have to say that I don’t really think that this film was trying to take itself too seriously either, so I guess I can’t hate on it too much. But he writing for this film is just only writing in the sense that words were put down on a piece of paper, with no real sense of knowledge and just lines of dialogue that are just made to move the film along.
The film also looks insanely cheap and something that just screamed “straight-to-dvd release”. I mean sometimes I usually don’t mind this but the film honestly looks like half of the sets were made from plastic, and CGI backgrounds that look as realistic as a high-school play stage. The rocks on the ground also bounce up higher than usual rocks actually should bounce up and it doesn’t just happen once, it happens a couple of times and I noticed it right away. It’s a shame that these production designers didn’t put more effort into the look of this film because I actually feel like I really could have gotten into this setting, if it wasn’t for the cheesiness.
The cast of this film tries what they can but in the end, the script is only a huge let-down. Jason Mamoa makes the most of his performance as Conan and uses these crappy lines to show how barbaric he is. He is one of the things that makes the film barely tolerable; he’s ruthless, threatening and very badass. I wish I could compare him to Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Mamoa does a good job on his own, and when it comes to Arnie, there is not comparison whatsoever.
Stephen Lang is good as the same villain he plays in every film, but instead with funky-looking hair that makes him look like a chick as Khalar Zym; Rose McGowan is very strange but pretty good in a kind of Marilyn Manson way as his daughter, Marique; Ron Perlman is good as Conan’s daddy; and Rachel Nichols is pretty alright as Tamara. But the one real mystery of this film was how they actually got damn Morgan Freeman to narrate a little portion of this film! I mean this guy has another Batman flick coming up and he’s getting bothered doing this crapola! Stay away Morgan!
Consensus: Conan the Barbarian is dumb, terribly written, cheap-looking, and no emotional connection whatsoever, but it still has a lot of fun and awesome blood, gore, action, half-naked barbarians, naked chicks, Morgan Freeman narrating, and a feel to it that doesn’t take itself too seriously but by all means, leave your brain in the car, as far away from the actual area you see this flick.