A total testosterone feast, “Conan The Barbarian” is pretty much the epitome of a good “guy” movie, complete with babes, bulging arms, and bloodletting. Yep, lots and lots of bloodletting.
I had previously only seen bits and parts from the original Schwarzenegger movies the few times they showed them on T.V. or, if we want to travel way back, when my dad used to pop in an VHS tape a work out buddy of his taped for him along with Predator, Terminator, y’know, the AU-nold essentials. Not being a fan of the Conan comic book series either I did not have many preconceptions going into this movie, only that it was going to be your standard violent, over the top piece of male escapist fantasy which, surprise, I was 100% correct.
Despite the pitfall of succumbing to many of the cliché’s synonymous with action/adventure movies where the protagonist is bare chested and wield a sword about as big as he is, Conan The Barbarian is actually quite a bit of fun if taken on its own “barbaric” and outrageous terms.
In the beginning of the movie, we see the traumatic journey of the main character, Conan, as he survives a vicious raid on his people, the Cimmarians, by a neighboring kingdom whose ruler, haven’t seen this one before, is a megalomaniac with intimations of god-hood. The attack claims the life of his father and after crawling out from a smoldering pile of rubble and human remains, Conan hefts his sword toward the heavens and screams a vow of revenge.
From here, the movie cuts to a decade or so down the line where Conan is no longer a scraggly haired tyke anymore but a full-blown badass leading his own pirate crew in a tooth and nail fight against the tyrants and slave traders who seem to comprise the major authoritative power in the hyboric age. After freeing a bunch of slaves Conan picks up the scent of his father’s killer. The rest of the movie plays out in pretty generic fashion as the single minded hero embarks on his quest for vengeance, leaving a trail of death and destruction in his wake and winning the love of a good wench in the process.
The story is fairly predictable and while the main actors give good performances the characterizations are pretty stereotypical. On the positive side I really liked Jason Mamoa, the actor who played Conan. He looked every bit the part (Sorry AU-nold) and had a very commanding presence on screen. Another thing I enjoyed was the movie's seemless transfusion of real and CG backgrounds to create an epic, larger than life feel. The costumes and sets look authentic and watching it in stunning 3D, one really feels as though they have been transported back to the world of antiquity. Or at least a roided out version of it.
A swashbuckling adventure that is definitely no for the squeamish, Conan The Barbarian succeeds in delivering the goods to moviegoers willing to roll with the silliness and enjoy a fun and thought-free escape.