Review: Conan The Barbarian

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Who knew that the 1982 movie Conan the Barbarian, based on stories by Robert E. Howard and adapted to screenplay by Oliver Stone & John Milius, needed a reboot? The new Conan has been in development with various movie houses since the beginning of 2000, and likely benefitting from the new advancements in 3D technology, finally appears screens August 19th 2011 – nearly the 30th anniversary of the original. This new epic mythological slash and gore flick has an expanded plot and a host of interesting faces: Jason Momoa as Conan, Ron Perlman as Corin (Conan’s father), as well as Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, and Rose McGowan. Morgan Freeman lends his venerable voice in what tasted like an attempt to shore up the film’s credibility. Shooting for the film took place in Bulgaria, but a great deal of the backdrop is computer edited to add period-appropriate structures. The 3D effects, done by Real 3D, aren’t in-your-face obnoxious and unexpectedly increase the depth and authenticity to the cinematic experience.

Taking place in a period “after the sea swallowed Atlantis” (or something to that effect, ergo this is an invented mythology), Conan the Barbarian boils down to the story of a boy born to battle who grows into a simple man with exceptional skill at being one thing: a barbarian. His quest to avenge his father’s death takes him all across a fictional quasi-mediaeval Europe, acquiring friends and girls along the way. As a big fan of the original, the thing that kept coming to mind as we watched the remake was that someone took elements of The Chronicles of Riddick and Game of Thrones and mashed them up with graphic swordplay akin to 300.

The aptness of Jason Momoa as Conan was not to be overlooked, nor the casting of Ron Perlman as Conan’s father. Who better to “father” the 6’5″ actor than another behemoth of a human being? While Perlman’s performance is standard adequate as would be expected of someone with so much experience, Momoa could use a little practice in expressions other than his ubiquitous eyebrow-heavy scowl. Stephen Lang seemed to bring his Avatar role right into his Conan costume, while the film’s female characters didn’t need to act so much as look good nearly nude.

Much like the Transformers trilogy, Conan the Barbarian isn’t a movie to get deeply philosophical over. If you want good action and a tiny bit of story, Conan has you covered. If blood, guts, sex and really bad horsemanship aren’t your thing, Citizen Kane is probably available on Netflix.