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Conan The Barbarian—movie review

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
August 19, 2011 4:30 AM
8 Comments
  • |

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the movies, they’re resurrecting concepts and entire films from the 1980s like Footloose (so help me) and Conan the Barbarian, based on Robert E. Howard’s pulp magazine hero. Beefy Jason Momoa steps into Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sandals to star in the new screen adaptation, which (for once) makes vivid and entertaining use of 3-D.

Given that I had no expectations for this picture I thought it wasn’t bad: it’s elaborate, well-mounted, and never dull. Ron Perlman is well cast as Conan’s father, the powerful leader of a tribe known as the Cimmerians. His death at the hands of a cruel rival sends his—

—son on a long-term quest for revenge and satisfaction. He even allows himself to be captured at one point so he can get closer to the man he means to kill, Khalar Zym, played by Stephen Lang—the villain from Avatar—and his daughter, an exotic sorceress played by Rose McGowan.

Conan also acquires a traveling companion named Tamara (Rachel Nichols), whose pure blood makes her a target for the evildoers. Together they endure a daunting series of tests and challenges.

You don’t go to a movie like this expecting to hear Shakespearean dialogue, but the action, under Marcus Nispel’s direction, is consistently vigorous and exciting. So are the visual effects, from an epic battle with sand creatures to a struggle with an enormous sea serpent. But it’s the bad guys who give the movie weight and solidity. Lang is a truly formidable opponent with a strong physical presence; McGowan stops just this side of camp to become a figure of danger.

I try to take each movie I see on its own terms; this isn’t my favorite kind of entertainment, and some of its violence is extreme, but on the whole Conan the Barbarian is pretty good, for what it is. The screenplay by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood may not be inspired, but it does what it sets out to do. I’m not sure if Jason Momoa has what it takes to become an A-list star, but he definitely looks the part of Conan.

Incidentally, I’ve been quoting my favorite line from the film: “I live, I love, I slay, I am content.” I think I’m going to adopt it as my new mantra.

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8 Comments

  • Alluri.Hemanth and bhaskar | September 4, 2011 6:15 AMReply

    This is most worst film i never and ever see in my life...I think this director can create this type of suck movies again....please...., Dont watch this movie..if you are willing to die then see it....

    i got head ache and waste of money....This is my strong opinion after seeing this dirty movie.... This spoiled my entire weekend......

    Simply the movie is all about " How the hero get his sword form villain "

    Funny, silly, dirty movie.....please DONT WATCH ......................

  • Rohan Jones | September 1, 2011 8:22 AMReply

    This is a good movie . This one is available at www.MOVIEGAZE.com , english, in HQ quality FREE . Plays like youtube .

  • Randy Arnold | August 26, 2011 12:26 PMReply

    That mantra doesn't sound like you, Mr. Maltin.

  • FM | August 23, 2011 7:34 AMReply

    Actually, there is an exception to what I just said: family movies. The best family movies like the Pixar films seem to do consistently well at the box office and are well-liked probably because they are simpler and easier to comprehend.

  • FM | August 23, 2011 5:50 AMReply

    It would be very difficult to agree with any critic 100% of the time, though I tend to agree with Maltin more often than not, The truth is that mediocrities get overrated by critics and audiences alike all the time because there is really no difference intellectually between most critics and the average moviegoer. There are still good movies being made, but they usually make the least money.

  • Leroy White | August 23, 2011 3:33 AMReply

    I haven't seen this movie and I don't want to. But ever since Leonard gave The Dark Knight a bad review, Leonard has about 0% credibility left. The Dark Knight is voted by IMDB users as the best movie of 2008, about the 10ths best movie of all time and is loved by the critics just as much. After Leonard gave The Dark Knight a bad review, its just impossible to take his opinion seriously regarding movies.

  • Rob Roehm | August 20, 2011 6:00 AMReply

    Interesting that you like that line; it was cribbed from Robert E. Howard's story "Queen of the Black Coast." The actual line follows: "I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content."

  • Karen Snow | August 19, 2011 2:17 AMReply

    Love your new mantra !

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