Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Jason Momoa, Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan, Stephen Lang
A vengeful barbarian warrior sets off to get his revenge on the evil warlord who attacked his village and murdered his father when he was a boy.
While its relentless, gory violence is more faithful to the Robert E. Howard books, Conan the Barbarian forsakes three-dimensional characters, dialogue, and acting in favor of unnecessary 3D effects.
  • Lionsgate Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 19 Aug 2011 Released:
  • 22 Nov 2011 DVD Release:
  • $21.3M Box office:

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Conan The Terrible1/10
First of all, before I say anything about the movie I want people to know a little bit about me. I went into this movie with an open mind wanting to see it anyway despite the horrid reviews it's been getting from critics. (I generally tend to ignore the critics especially for movies that I personally think will be worth seeing in theaters) the trailer looked pretty cool for this one, so I went in expecting at the least an awesome super gory action flick. What I got was the total opposite and a huge disappointment for me. The critics are right. Conan the Barbarian is overall an absolutely terrible movie.

To be fair, the movie actually starts out with some promise showing us young Conan and a really brutal kick-ass action scene with young Conan in the beginning. After the beginning sequence though, the movie starts to fall apart rapidly. The dialog is extremely weak and uninspired. I kid you not, Conan probably says a maximum of forty words or less throughout the entire movie. Whoever wrote the script seemed like they just stopped trying and gave up after the promising beginning scenes.

Another thing that I found really disappointing was that Conan himself was just not brutal enough. Only for short moments here and there he did some barbarian like things but not at all on the level that you'd expect from a movie titled "Conan The Barbarian" The action scenes themselves were just not filmed well at all. It was filmed using very fast paced cuts and it was very confusing to keep up with what was happening on screen. The camera always seemed to be lagging behind the action, and just when it finally catches up with Conan to see what he's doing, the bad guy is already dead. Great.

The plot was a jumbled mess and the acting pretty much on every level, was completely horrendous. Personally I am a fan of Jason Momoa. After his performance as the savage Khal Drago on the hit show "Game of Thrones" I thought he would be absolutely perfect to portray Conan, but sadly he is very weak in this role and really adds nothing new or interesting to the character. One more thing to be mentioned is that the 3D in this movie is non-existent. (Yes I saw it in 3D and don't think I am bashing the movie just because the 3D was horrible) The sad truth is even if I saw the regular 2D film I would still think the same about it. It is just that bad of a movie.

I dare to say that even 10,000 BC was better than this movie. (And that movie was terrible) At least in that movie you could tell what was happening during the action scenes. I strongly felt the urge to warn people not to waste their hard earned money on this movie. Trust me you will thank me for saving you the money. But, if you are dead-set on seeing it for yourself anyway despite what I have to say DO NOT see it in 3D it really is just an extra waste of money. Think "Clash of The Titans" not one thing in the entire film is 3D except for the ending credits. Avoid this film at all costs. 1/5
446th Review: Honestly? HBO does it better: sure it's passable, but who wants passable?4/10
Conan lacks myth - it truly lacks that sense of myth and wonder that created a whole new genre, and it lacks cinematic vision, it lacks what makes film rather than TV, and while entertaining after a decade of Xena and Game of Thrones we deserve more than this in our big budget movies.

Casting is fine, plot is a little dull, action is half-way to OK - it's just that overall there is nothing to really put life into this - where is the wow! factor, the, yes this is film. Even if you're making a B movie it doesn't excuse it.

In the right hands and the right team this could be storytelling at its best, instead we get a film that thrives on the cliche of its genre. It may have lots of sorcery, but it truly lacks magic.
Flashes of good with a majority of bad.1/10
First, I would like to say I love Howard's stories. I also like the 82 film. So that this deviates from Howard a little (or a lot) isn't really a bother to me.

Now, before I get to the review I want to say to anyone out there studying film (like myself) to watch this movie. It will prove to you that no matter how much action, blood or one liners you squeeze into a movie, if the story and characterization are missing you don't have a movie.

Without ANY disrespect, I would urge Mr. Nispel to do a film course, as he clearly needs to learn story telling at its most basic. This is not an insult, this is advice, because I believe once he has a better grasp on it, he will make a fine film maker.

Conan the Barbarian is a summer movie. Sadly this also has become synonymous with stupid, bad movies. And this film doesn't escape that. Clearly this film had a lot of trouble, by the looks of it at the conceptual stage. The fact the Sean Hood had to rewrite on set proves the material they had to work with was a disaster, and it shows.

Donelley and Oppenheimer (forgive my spelling) did a poor job on the script, if, what was shown in the final cut was more or less what they wrote. Mr. Hood's rewrites I heard were quite well received, but I also hear they cut most of what he wrote out of the cinematic cut...

This film, cursed with a poor script fails at even just an entertainment level. Sure, there is lots of action and fighting, but there is no emotion behind it. I was actually bored half way through of the fighting and wanted some damn character scenes, of which there are none of note. And that is another problem, after the first act (young Conan) nobody has any character. They walk around, kill or die and that is all. Their motivations are given to us in a single line and that is all.

The cast were good, but they had nothing to work with. The directing was inconsistent, the mood was all over the place, at times it smelt of a less fun Scorpion King with Artus and Elan-sha (I know I got those names wrong) being out of place "comic relief". Stephen Lang, as usual is good, but again, he has nothing to work with, so he stands and acts mean a lot.

The one thing that really took me out of the world of the film, is the dialogue. Which lacks any sort of finesse, culture, period etc. It sounds like modern speech... which is one thing it shouldn't sound like. Imagine watching a Western where they all talk in modern American slang, that is what this dialogue felt like. It was dialogue you write in your first draft, then go back over and make it good...though it seems no one did in Conan.

The film looked nice, I'll give it that. Some scenes were too bright and conflicted with the mood, but again, the mood changed as often as it would in an angst ridden teenager. The CGI wasn't bad, it wasn't great but it was serviceable.

The Dweller scene was pathetic. There was no choreography, set up to it, Momoa literally stood in one spot for most of it and did just ducked around a lot. Clearly a complete failure in the directing department for this scene which had no climax.

Costume and wardrobe design was impressive. Lang's armour and get up were nice, McGowan looked sexy in a freaky kind of way. So visually it almost always worked.

Overall, I suggest seeing it if you are curious, it isn't the worst thing to happen to cinema by a long shot. But, with no story, at least none that is told in a coherent way, no character development or motivation and no sense of culture or the world the characters (caricatures) inhabit it not only fails as a Conan movie, it fails as a movie. It fails as a coherent story told with moving pictures, it breaks the very foundation of cinema's rules. It cannot engage an audience, because there is nothing for us to care about. As a video game, this would kick arse. As a movie, it falls on it.
Halfway through I actually forgot what I was doing.5/10
I'd seen the original a long time ago.. but I still knew the general idea of what to expect before going into this reboot.. an R-Rated warrior action film with slight elements of the supernatural that was more about entertainment value than high art, suffice it to say, suffice is probably too complicated a word for the audience this remake is aimed at.

I liked Momoa from Game of Thrones, he had the perfect physical quality to portray a warrior, and despite being a character of few words he really sold it for me, and as a result I really could see how he was ideal casting for Conan, he's a more rugged Dwayne Johnson.. but I still feel Johnson has a lot of untapped potential to be one of the real action stars of the decade along with Diesel and Statham.. but it's good to know Momoa is in line to join these guys.

Back to the film... from the very first scene, you are basically told this movie is going to be over the top in a bad and very lazy way.. apparently Conan is "battle born", in other words his father Ron Perlman is surrounded by countless merciless foes, of which he takes down a couple while screaming, and then he tends to his pregnant wife, akin to a scene from the recent Cowboys & Aliens, we are taught that during Hollywood battles you are allowed respite from the enemy if you enter an emotional two shot close up with a loved or cherished one, no one will dare attack you, it simply wouldn't be fair.. so yes amidst the carnage Perlman and wife share some tender and distraught words, she wishes to see her son before she dies, and without even really looking he takes a nasty looking knife and performs the fastest C-section known to mankind, and voila.. he brings up a CGI baby.. the mother looks on, smiles, then dies, Hellboy is highly moved by these events, so decides to perform a Lion King and holds the child aloft and screams out loud, the camera pulls in beckoning the film's title to force itself upon us.. this scene literally lasts 3-4 minutes.. and none of the attacking savages notices it happening, or pays any attention to the angry barbarian king screaming and holding a newborn baby above his head.. As i said i came into this film willing to hold my disbelief.. but seriously.. could this scene not have taken place in a hut or some other hidden shelter? Conan would still have been "battle-born", the first thing he tasted (like every child) would still have been his mother's blood, yet it would have been ten times more intimate and moving, and hundred times more believable. I completely understand this isn't meant to be highbrow, but there's no harm in adding just a slight bit of realism and genuine emotion to a fundamental scene, It will only involve the audience more and at little expense to any of the tone. As a result of this scene, I never cared for any character for any moment.. the film failed from its very inception.

If Lord of The Rings was Peter Jackson making love to the audience, Conan is him self pleasuring himself in a dirty motel room. From the Morgan Freeman LOTR rip off introductory montage, the whole film is dumb and completely forgettable, apart from the occasional cool move in a fight, every single action moment is a blurry fast motion medium shot.. the failsafe of every director since Nolan decided to publicly showcase such laziness in Batman Begins.. it's pure laziness on every count, move the camera fast, add some crunchy sound design and BOOM, you have an action scene.. what's the best fight scene of the last decade? Old Boy and the Hammer, and there isn't a single cut in that, or any fast camera move, it's just good old fashioned choreography and stunt acting.. the only good or partly original part in the whole film is the sand soldier fight.. but even that is ultimately deemed moronic and pornographic, why doesn't the witch daughter use such powers or summon up similar creatures at any other point in the film? like you know.. say during the finale when all magic powers should have been used, at all times. But obviously the film-makers realised that would have put Conan at a big disadvantage, and caused too much of a headache for them to solve.. I know just move the camera around a lot, and make loads of quick edits and CGI blood splashes, it's the modern day equivalent of a shiny object for rednecks.

Even the DBOX programming was dumb and nonsensical. The film even had an expert thief that could pick a lock with a custom made device, called a key!! oh i wish i didn't have a limit of 1000 words.. i'd do a real Conan on this film and rip it to shreds. Yet again a film with great production value ruined by moronic film-makers that think guilty pleasure means no need for creativity, and yet another film permitted a stupid budget simply because the Conan name has brand recognition.
The Terrible Wrath of Darkest Gods2/10
Director Marcus Nispel is undoubtedly the long-lost offspring of trash master and fellow German, Uwe Boll, as this film is so profoundly awful on every level that it's hard to think that it wasn't intentionally made this way.

Remarkably, the movie gets bad immediately and stays that way. One of its most jarring aspects is that it begins with Morgan Freeman's narration, which sounds so utterly out of place, with his comforting, slightly Southern drawl the total opposite of everything bloody and Cimmerian, that it instantly comes across like self-parody, as if we were seeing some schticky Mel Brooks interpretation after the fact. This ham-handed disregard for appropriate tone haunts every frame of the film.

The story fails to find the real Conan -- who in Robert E. Howard's stories is a smart, tough, brutal survivor -- and instead seems to reveal to us the underwhelming idea that Conan's just another hunky sword dude with a knack for slaughter.

The script inconsistently sticks to any epic poetic flair in the dialog, so that when such words are delivered, they feel forced and flat. The noted line "I live, I love, I slay, and I am content," is meted out with such lack of panache or feeling that I wanted to wash out Jason Momoa's mouth with soap, right after forcing him to watch Schwarzenegger -- not a great actor, by any means -- deliver the unforgettable tagline: "To crush your enemies, drive them before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women." But then again, John Milius bothered to direct his actors.

Stephen Lang (Colonel Quaritch of "Avatar") is the half-assed villain Khalar Zym, who inspires zero awe and no respect on his whatever quest for some supernatural thingy, which is such an afterthought that you constantly forget about it. And post plastic-surgery Rose McGowan as his witchy daughter Marique is so outrageously goth that you half-wish for a Sisters of Mercy musical cue every time she steps on camera; if only her performance received the same attention as her over-the-top costumes. Ron Perlman, as Conan's father, is simply wasted. Weep!

I'm totally sick of the short-attention-span style of storytelling. The filmmakers are so afraid that if some big action sequence doesn't occur every ten minutes, that we'll be bored; and of course, this quickly has the opposite effect, as we instead become bored from so much pointless, poorly shot and edited action unsupported by character or story. Video games often have more character development than this film, and yes, I'm specifically thinking of the comparatively Shakespearean struggles portrayed in Donkey Kong.

I bestowed two stars on this flick, as the second is for unintentional hilarity, of which the film has much. Its hyperbolic Hyborian cartoonishness makes you either wince or chuckle derisively. Hopefully, as many heads as roll on screen will also roll in Hollywood for this abortive, dreadful garbage.

Perhaps the noble Conan will someday get his proper due in a modern film. But not today.