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Conan the Barbarian (2011 film)

A 2011 action film based on the character created by Robert E. Howard.

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A Thief...A Reaver...A Slayer....A Barbarian Resurrected On Film....By Crom!!

  • Aug 30, 2011
Rating:
+3
I figured that it was a little odd that director Marcus Nispel’s (Friday the 13th remake) “Conan The Barbarian” was released first in Europe and the Philippines two days before it hit U.S. shores but what do I know. The film isn’t a remake of the 1982 Schwarzenegger film but rather a re-interpretation of the “Conan” mythos and is loosely based on the character created by Robert E. Howard. The film is also unrelated to the beloved comic series by Marvel comics (70’s-80’s) and the current series by Dark Horse if you are wondering. The good news is this new edition of “Conan” is rightfully rated “R” and is filled with blood and violence as fitting to a film about a barbarian who had lived during the Hyborean Age. The bad news is, while the film is action-packed, it feels more like a serving of Hollywood fantasy than an actual tale of the sword and sorcery. But hey, it is entertaining in many ways for the hot-blooded adult male viewer.

During the Hyborean Age, Acheron sorcerers have fabricated a mask from the skulls of dead kings and the blood of sacrificed daughters to their dark gods in order to control the world. Having met defeat and the parts of the mask scattered throughout the land, the barbarians led by Corin (Ron Perlman) lived an uneasy life. During a struggle with a rival tribe, Conan (Leo Howard plays the young warrior) was birthed from blood and sacrifice, and is now slowly becoming a skilled warrior. One day, Corin’s tribe is attacked by the forces of Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), a warlord who is seeking to harness the lost powers of the mask. His tribe devastated, Conan is left alone.

                     Stephen Lang as Khalar Zym and Rose McGowan as Marique in ``Conan the Barbarian.''

                    Stephen Lang as Khalar Zym in "Conan the Barbarian."

                    Jason Momoa as Conan in "Conan the Barbarian."

20 years or so later, Conan (Jason Momoa) is now a pirate; trying to battle his way and seeking the man who had ruined his life. Conan must now face the evil of Zym and his daughter (Rose McGowan) and with the aid of his friends, Artus and Ela-Shan (Nonso Anozie and Said Taghmaoui respectively) must save the last of the pure blood called Tamara (Rachel Nichols), get vengeance and save the world in the process. A Barbarian’s job is never done….

2011’s “Conan The Barbarian” is a film that is very predictable, the premise is wrapped around a theme of revenge, a quest and redemption which is the staple of fantasy movies. The film has a very straight-forward plot, and quite frankly, the script doesn’t take any risks and feels more like the 80’s films of “The Sword and the Sorcerer”, “Deathstalker” and “The Beastmaster” than an actual tale by Robert E. Howard (then again, those films took inspiration from the Nemedian Chronicles). I guess I cannot truly knock it for having these stereotypical elements, I have to admit the film was on par with “The Scorpion King” but my problems with the film is the fact that it left too many things hanging, the script was unpolished and didn’t properly capitalize on the potentials of the Robert E. Howard references of the different realms of this age. I was happy to see Kushite tribes, some Pict warriors, and the mention of several lands in the Hyborean age. I feel that the direction was rushed to keep with the film’s upbeat pace, and in doing so, devices and elements felt very convenient and lacked credibility in its narrative.

To cover up the shortcomings of its script, director Marcus Nispel overloads the screen with a lot of action, gratuitous nudity and sex, blood and violence that borders around the lines of exploitation. This is not a movie for kids, it is violent and has a lot of nudity and some sex (so parents beware!). I was pleased to see the film made this way; after all, it is rare for a mainstream movie to be this bold, let alone violent. Conan is a character who lived during an age where killing is just another chore but who maintains a sense of honor. The set designs were decent, the costumes were good and I thought some elements of the creature CGI-effects were quite creative. The tentacled creature and the sand warriors reminded me of Howard’s tales which was a welcome treat. The blood effects were nicely executed; I was pleased to see that they may have used old-fashioned red ink to make them look real. The gore was there, but it wasn’t too much to overwhelm the film.

                   Jason Momoa as Conan in "Conan the Barbarian."

                  Jason Momoa as Conan and Rachel Nichols as Tamara in ``Conan the Barbarian.''

                  Leo Howard as Conan and Ron Perlman as Corin in ``Conan the Barbarian.''

Ron Perlman does almost steal the show as Corin. His portrayal was moody, filled with attitude and he remained true to his love for his son. His relationship to Conan was defined well as a Cimmerian kinship; where father must hone his son to become a warrior. Momoa makes for a decent Conan and his features did remind me of some of Gary Kwapisz's and Joe Jusko’s paintings. He was capable in the action sequences although he remained untested in the areas of emotional performances (I needed more "Crom" outbursts!). He struggled to create a chemistry with Rachel Nichols who exuded sexual appeal. The villains played by Stephen Lang and Rose McGowan were your usual stereotypes, and for some reason, they looked like “Mad Max” refugees. The rest of the supporting cast were underdeveloped and wished for a more credible injection into its story; much of their presence were a little too convenient for my tastes.

                   Rose McGowan as Marique in "Conan the Barbarian."

                  Jason Momoa as Conan in "Conan the Barbarian."

I guess 2011‘s “Conan The Barbarian” was a decent, entertaining watch, but I couldn’t compare it to the other earlier “so bad it’s good” versions of “Conan” with Arnold Schwarzenegger (whose original theme music just ruled). This 2011 version is a lot more polished with the way of effects and action sequences, but made no effort to expand on the title character. It made the right approach in becoming violent and bloody, I just wished that it went all the way and then, I wouldn’t have noticed the rushed plotting. Sure, it entertains for the wrong reasons and is forgettable, but it gets points for the effort in being bold…which is rare in this day and age.

Timid Recommendation, RENTAL is advisable [3 Out of 5 Stars]


Poster art for "Conan the Barbarian 3D."  Character poster for "Conan the Barbarian 3D."

Character poster for "Conan the Barbarian 3D." Teaser poster art for "Conan the Barbarian3D."



Original 1982 track:






 
 
 
 
 
A Thief...A Reaver...A Slayer....A Barbarian Resurrected On Film

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March 17, 2012
Engaging storyline and pictures too !
 
December 14, 2011
I kind of assumed this would be a middle of the road flick. I did like Nispel's work on "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Pathfinder," so I might like this one more than others. It's out on DVD, so I'm sure I'll either rent it or plunk down fifteen bucks for it sooner or later. Nice review!
January 14, 2012
seen this one yet?
January 17, 2012
Nope, still haven't yet.
 
September 08, 2011
As a kid, the sword & sorcery films flooded the multiplex or mom & pop theatres like crazy. I did love this series though I can't say I'm pumped up about watching the reboot but probably will at some point. I might wait for the second run at the local dollar theatre or wait for dvd however. Good points all-around & nice photos! Well done sir. ;-)
September 08, 2011
I think we can both agree why as kids and teens, we like to see these movies....and nope it isn't for the dragons and monsters LOL!! Thanks, Brian....
September 08, 2011
Yeah, there's just something about the mystical & magical. Not to mention a slew of violence & sex doesn't necessarily turn a kid away either. Haha!
 
September 06, 2011
I enjoyed this one as well, about the same, I'd give it a 3.
September 08, 2011
thanks, Alex!
 
August 31, 2011
I was really bothered by the way the action/fight scenes were shot. The camera jumped all over the place and sometimes I literally couldn't tell who was doing what to whom so I'd just give up. Prime example was the giant octopus/fight was the guard scene--the camera never rested on one image long enough for it to register with me. Maybe I should have sat further back... It really was a brutal movie, and you're right that it should be, but where it went wrong was that CONAN was too brutal. I think it would have shocked Howard to see his barbarian hero stripped of his code of honor. It's about 3.5 for me because I did approve of the casting even if the guy was a bit too short and too small for the part. He still managed to sell it with his face.
September 01, 2011
I agree with your analysis of the octopus scene. I liked the style of the CGI but yes, it was a little hard to follow. I think they should have had the camera hang back a little bit in the fight scenes, but I think it was more on Nispel inexperience in shooting action scenes. Another thing we agree on, Conan's code of honor was missing, and he felt more like the stereotype of a H-wood barbarian hero. Momoa did look the part in some ways, didn't he?
September 02, 2011
I liked Momoa in the part even if he was a bit too short and not thick enough. He really sold himself as Conan. I couldn't agree more about the fight scenes. They couldn't have been more poorly shot. Just when I thought they were going to let us sit back and enjoy them, they'd move in close and ruin the whole thing.
 
August 30, 2011
I did a brief search on this to refresh my memory. It's been so many years since I've seen the original. Personally, I don't think I want to see this one. I know that the 1980s version was terrible, but I think that's why I liked it so much. My favorite though was Red Sonja, and as I was refreshing my memory on that, I found that there is apparently an updated version of it in the works as well. I don't really know what to think. Anyway, I'm not sure I like how they like to put these new twists on movies I consider to be classics. I would love to see an actual remake instead of a reinterpretation.
August 31, 2011
I liked RED SONJA better than either of the 2 Conan films as well. AND I liked CONAN THE DESTROYER better than the first film. I would have expected a better story out of Oliver Stone.
September 01, 2011
I think in Red Sonja, Arnold played "Validor"...or something since they couldn't secure the Conan name. I hope they pick someone awesome to play the red-tressed woman warrior.
September 01, 2011
For the most part, my memory on all of these is fuzzy. I just know that with the recent revised versions of Clash of the Titans, and Conan I'm reminded of spending long Saturday and Sunday afternoons back in the 80s watching the originals. So, I can't comment on cinematic value and things like that. I think I was maybe ten years old at the time, and if I watched them now I probably wouldn't be able to finish any of them. It's like watching the anime I loved as a kid, the memory is better than the real thing. Anyway William, according to Yahoo Rose McGowan will play Red Sonja. I guess we'll have to see who does it better, her or Brigitte Neilsen.
 
August 30, 2011
Still debating as to whether I want to see this on the big screen or wait for the DVD. The reviews have been primarily awful and from what I've seen thus far it fails to capture the spirit of the Robert E. Howard stories or even the original Marvel Comics that we grew up reading. I'll be the first to say that I was not a fan of the Schwarzenegger films and that was mainly to due with the lack of quality acting, direction, writing, or even the action (though those films did have great music scores). I suspect that this film may suffer from similar flaws albeit to a lesser degree.
August 31, 2011
I think we have yet to await the definitive Conan. This was not based on any Marvel or Dark Horse comic but merely inspired by the character by Howard; a re-interpretation for modern viewers. I don't blame the filmmakers for making a mainstream movie, and a definitive Conan movie we have yet to see.
August 31, 2011
Maybe some day I'll make a decent Conan flick. LOL! But seriously, I've yet to see a single Conan film or television series that was as good as the comics or the Howard short stories. They haven't even been able to get pronunciation right. While it is spelled Cimmeria, the word is like Celtic and is pronounced with a 'k' sound and not an 's' sound. Hence the title Conan the Cimmerian. When they say it with the 's' sound it doesn't have the same hard edged quality to it.
September 01, 2011
you'll have Conan fighting demonic waffles aren't yah? LOL! You really think they would pay attention to its pronunciation....I was surprised when they actually pronounced MJOLNIR right in the recent Thor movie. Thank goodness for Straczynski....
September 01, 2011
Yeah, the pronunciation is important. Peter Jackson and company did a lot of research and made sure they got the names right in "LotR" and that helped immensely. I don't think Conan and Robert E. Howard will ever be of the stature or literary merit of Tolkien's works, but they deserve the same dedication and respect when making an adaptation.

And no, I'd have Conan played by a six and a half foot tall, black haired, blue eyed, muscle ripped Irishman with a ten pound sword battling against a horde of monsters, armies of battle hardened soldiers, and sorcerers of formidable cunning. I might toss in a few skeleton warriors too just to pay homage to Harryhausen and "The Thing in the Crypt".
 
August 30, 2011
Nicely done- thorough and answered many of my concerns. Marique look as intriguing in action as the stills has her? My jury's still out on whether I'm digging the new Conan design. More realistic perhaps than the romance-novel coverboy quality of the Governator but as you accurately described, more forgettable as well. Excellent work!
August 31, 2011
Me too! The designs were reminiscent of the paintings in the 80's and the actor looked more like a cimmerian imho. This was insanely action-packed, which made it a fun watch.
 
1
More Conan the Barbarian (2011 film... reviews
review by . December 16, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
* out of ****      In more ways than one, Marcus Nispel's re-imagining of the famous pulp novel series (and character) "Conan the Barbarian" certainly brings the pain. A high-budget action picture limited to the sounds of grunts, battle cries, and an occasional line of ridiculous dialogue; this latest addition to the almost decidedly short list of adaptations - for this franchise - is a brutal, noisy, mind-numbing and arguably tedious exercise in how much genre formula …
review by . August 20, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Watching the original 1982 version of Conan the Barbarian, I had the distinct impression it was forced into existence – a film made before the talent or the technology was available to do the story justice. Apart from the unconvincing special effects, the phony-looking sets, and the insistent, overblown, annoying score by Basil Poledouris, the casting was the cinematic equivalent of a hack job; Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sandahl Bergman, though …
review by . January 09, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
CONAN THE BARBARIAN: Is This All There Is?
As someone who watches a lot of films, I know that there are certain flicks I’m simply prone to like more than others.  B movies – good ones and bad ones – have always been a fascination of mine.  Over my years of writing about films, I’ve tried to narrow down specifically to what interests me most about these ‘side’ pictures, but I’ve never been able to nail my arguments exactly on the head.  I tend to think it’s that, like any good …
Quick Tip by . August 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
I never watched the original Conan With Arnold Schwarzenegger, so when I heard of this movie I overlooked it, I wasnt intrested. Its not until I heard that Jason Momoa had the lead role did i start looking at this. Reason being Jason Momoa is known for his role as Ronon the tall, handsome, warrior type in the Stargate Atlantis TV Series. (not unlike Conan) And im sure acting in a movie is very differant than acting in a TV series. If anything I want to see this movie to …
Quick Tip by . March 14, 2011
Caption
I have no idea what to expect from this new Conan film. I love the character, but thus far I've been unimpressed by previous attempts to adapt Robert E. Howard's famous barbarian warrior from page to screen, and this particular effort looks rather cheap and silly. We shall see...
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The tale of Conan the Cimmerian and his adventures across the continent of Hyboria on a quest to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his village.
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Details

Director: Marcus Nispel
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Release Date: August 19, 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Studio: Lionsgate Entertainment, Millennium Films, Nu Image Films
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