First off, I am probably not the best person on the Lost in Reviews crew to review Conan the Barbarian. I vividly remember getting physically ill watching one of the original Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan movies when I was little. It was either showing on the TV or we rented the VHS tape. Based on that, I was not planning on seeing Conan the Barbarian at all. Lucky me, I am the only one that got an advanced screening of the movie to attend. In the end, the experience did not turn out to be as bad as I thought.
Conan the Barbarian is not a remake. I got called out for using that word when I made a trailer post for the movie when the first teaser trailer came out. Essentially, Conan the Barbarian is an origin story. (Please forgive me for any mistakes in my summary of the film. I honestly do not know enough background on the story to do it justice.) The story starts with an evil sorcerer mask that was made from the bones of past kings. The mask gave the wearer great power, and with the addition of pure (royal) blood, it could bring someone back from the dead. Those who had possession of the mask could also wield a great power. The tribes of the land defeated those in possession of the mask and broke the mask into pieces. Each tribe was given a piece to hide to make sure this evil power could not rise again. Many years later, a man by the name of Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) manages to get his hands on all of the pieces except one. That piece is hidden in Cimmerian tribe, and that is where Conan is introduced as a young boy (played by Leo Howard). The first fifteen to twenty minutes is spent with Conan as young boy proving himself to be worthy as a warrior to his father (Ron Perlman). Khalar Zym raids the Cimmerians and ends up killing Conan’s father. This leads Conan on quest of revenge to find the man who killed his father. The movie jumps to Conan as a man, now played by Jason Momoa. Eventually Conan finds out who Khalar Zym is and what he wants. This leads Conan to meet the last pure blood, Tamara (Rachel Nichols), who Khalar Zym is after. Khalar Zym also has a creepy daughter named Marique (Rose McGowan) who has some magical powers and looks a lot like her dead mother who Zym is trying to resurrect.
I could go on about the story of Conan the Barbarian, but I will never get the details right and it is well laid out in the movie. The background to the story is told by a narrator who surprisingly is Morgan Freeman. He also narrates the story a couple more times in the movie.
The CGI graphics of the lands that Conan visits are really well done. It puts the old movies to shame. Having those sets and backdrops is really impressive and will transport you to the land that is nothing like anything on Earth. Some of the darker settings looked like Mordor in The Lord of the Rings. Nothing in this movie looks cheap or underdone. Some of my friends commented on how fake the blood looked, but I did not notice that. Costumes, or the lack of them, are also well done. Conan never has a shirt on, and there are plenty of naked breasts to satisfy the male audience if the violence is not doing it for them.
The movie is really violent, but I think most people would know that going into it. This is not a movie for the kids in any shape or form. There are many instances where I just turned my head because it is just really graphic in some parts of the movie. Conan also does not lack in “unique ways to kill, injure, or maim someone” department.
Jason Momoa is pretty fantastic as Conan. He has the build and the uber-masculine face for the role. You can tell he did a lot of training for the role and it shows. I would not be surprised if he did some of his own stunts. I would be interested to know what Conan fanatics think of his performance. More people are probably aware of Momoa now because of his role in Game of Thrones series on HBO. While he is shirtless for the entire movie, the female audience only gets a shot of bare rear end in one scene. Compared to the amount of breasts that bounced around on screen, I do not think that is fair.
Stephen Lang is unrecognizable as Khalar Zym. Stephen Lang is probably most famous for his role in Avatar and the upcoming TV series Terra Nova. He does not have the recognizable buzz cut and seems to look skinnier in Conan. Rose McGowan probably has the creepiest role as Marique. Her hairstyle is obviously the focus of her character, as she is half bald with no eyebrows. Rachel Nichols as Tamara is nothing special. Inserting any other somewhat famous actress into that role probably would have come out with the same performance.
I did see Conan in 3D, and it was not half bad. I generally do not like to see 3D movies unless the movie is filmed in 3D. Conan is not blurry in 3D, but it is dark. By the end of the movie, as the sets got darker, it became more apparent to my eyes how much darker the 3D made the movie. I think I would have had more appreciation for the movie if I had seen it in 2D.
From this female critic, I would say that I enjoyed my time with Conan the Barbarian. It is not a great movie, but is anyone really going into this movie with award nominations on their mind? It is definitely a guy’s movie that is heavy on blood, violence, and boobies. Throw in some more naked Momoa shots, and I think the female audience might come around. I have no doubt that if the movie makes enough money at the box office, we will have a sequel on our hands. Go into Conan the Barbarian with an open mind, but know what to expect.
I give Conan the Barbarian 3 “graphic nose picks” out of 5.