Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Barbarian
Review By: Sean Stroub
It’s going to be hard to write this review without constantly thinking about my favorite talk show host since Conan O’Brien has become the most popular person with the name in recent years, but I’ll certainly try my best to focus on the barbarian. Over twenty years after the original movie, Lionsgate has released a remake depicting Robert E. Howard’s most famous character, but this time it stars the relatively unknown Jason Momoa as opposed to the original leading man Arnold Schwarzenegger. Conan the Barbarian, now on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, and DVD, definitely packs a punch, but its cheesy dialogue and weak acting can’t be ignored amongst the excessive violence and battle scenes, making this just another one of those dull, forgettable action movies.
The film begins with Morgan Freeman’s narration, obviously, and Conan’s birth on the battlefield, portraying him as a warrior since the very beginning of his life. We then see him as an insanely tough young man in a village where his father Corin, played by Ron Perlman, is chief of a barbarian tribe. Conan, along with several other youthful wannabe warriors, is given a task to complete in which the winner will be granted permission to battle alongside the rest of the tribe. While sprinting through the woods, an enemy group of growling, sword-wielding men approach the boys. Everyone leaves except Conan who takes out the whole bunch on his own, proving his skill. This entire scene as well as the brief look at Conan’s childhood is definitely the best part of the film. It has potential for a while, but it doesn’t get any better as the rest plays out.
Then one day, shortly after our first glimpse at Conan’s barbarity, the village is attacked by Khalar Zym, played by Stephen Lang who just constantly grunts and growls, and his people, resulting in Corin’s death. Ron Perlman isn’t in the film for as long as you’d hope, but at least he got to take part in another film full of head bashing like in Drive. Zym is there to collect the last piece of the powerful Mask of Acheron in order to bring his wife back from the dead and begin a reign of supernatural evil in Hyboria. He is assisted by his thugs and creepy sorceress daughter Marique (Rose McGowan), with whom he has a somewhat weird and inappropriate relationship now that his wife is dead. Together they retrieve the final piece of the mask and now must find a pure blood, another necessary component to accessing its control, which ends up being a woman named Tamara (Rachel Nichols who basically just screams the whole time). After witnessing his father’s death, Conan swears revenge on Zym and we follow the Cimmerian warrior as an adult in search of the evil ruler.
Although the acting isn’t all that great, the effects will keep
This Blu-ray collection is also chock-full of bonus content. It comes with four versions of the film: standard DVD, digital copy, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how the 3D is because I’m not one of the ten or so people who own a 3D television, but I have never been and probably never will be a fan of the extra dimension in the motion picture world. If you like that sort of thing though, it’s available here. The features include an audio commentary, “The Conan Legacy” that explores the character’s history, an in-depth look at the engineering of the major action scenes and how the stunt team acted them out, as well as an examination of Robert E. Howard’s life and the creation of Conan. So not only can you check out how the majority of the film was made, you can also take a look at the history of the man behind the barbarian. If you’ve seen Conan the Barbarian and liked it, then I would highly recommend picking up this collection. And even if you didn’t so much, but enjoyed the original film or story, then there’s something here for you too.
Conan the Barbarian is certainly not a great film, but it still has some decent gory action scenes for fans of sword and sorcery. It’s just one of those movies that you can’t pop into the DVD player expecting groundbreaking performances or exceptional filmmaking. Accept that and maybe you’ll have a fun time, but you’ll most likely still find yourself missing Arnold.