Movie Review: Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Synopsis: What a shitty movie.

I’ve watched this movie about a year or so ago, but my memory was a bit hazy so I watched it a second time before doing a review of it. Why did I even bother?

Conan the Barbarian 2011

Conan the Barbarian 2011

The movie is called Conan the Barbarian, which is exactly the same name as the famous and highly regarded movie Conan the Barbarian. It’s neither a remake nor a reboot, nor anything like that, so why us the name of an already existing movie? There is an infinite number of possible titles, and so many options to name it that make it clear that it’s Conan. And now we always have to call it Conan the Barbarian 2011. Conan the Barbarian is not even the name of the series of stories, comics, and other stuff. Conan the Barbarian is just the name of a single movie. The Ahnold movie. This is a cheap attempt to cash in on someone elses good work. Despite not being a remake of Conan the Barbarian, and I think the director explicitly said it’s not a remake but a completely separate movie, Conan the Barbarian 2011 recycles the stupid subplot of Conan searching for the warlord who destroyed his village and killed his father. Which is a completely original invention of Conan the Barbarian and doesn’t exist anywhere else in the story of the character. Totally not a remake. Because they said so. Even Conan the Barbarian could barely be considered an adaptation of the Conan stories. Conan the Barbarian 2011 does a bit more name dropping so you know that it takes place in the Hyborian Age, but feels even less connected to the source material. Conan the Barbarian may not really have had much to do with the original stories, but I think it did a great job at visualizing the setting and bringing it to life. This movie doesn’t.

The movie is way too dark most of the time, so you can’t see anything. The music is also way too loud and the voices way too low, so you can’t hear anything either. Not that there would be anything to hear either. The plot is pretty much nonexistent. Any 20 minutes episode of Conan the Adventurer had more plot than this. And this is no joke. I actually mean that literally. While the indoor shots are always too dark, the outdoor shots of cities and fortresses all look terribly fake. They look like out of 300 or a Diablo III cutscene. Pretty, but completely inappropriate.

The first half hour is wasted on Conans childhood and the raid on his village. Conans dad is played by Ron Perlman, which could have been really cool, but he doesn’t actually get to do anything but die in a ludicrous way. The two villains, a daddy sorcerer and his daughter sorcerer, could potentially have been interesting. Of course in the actual movie, they are not. Originally, the sorcerer wasn’t the real Big Bad, but his wife was. But she was defeated and burned while he and their young daughter survived. And now he has some plan how to bring her back to life and continue with her original plan. There are a few moments where his daughter hints that she is not really feeling quite comfortable with bringing her sorcerer mother back from hell and that could have been the hook for a really great plot. But the movie completely forgets about it quickly and it’s instead about the daddy sorcerer needing the blood of the last descendant of Archeron to activate a mask that will make him a god. That idea of having the villains of a story being only the henchmen of the real evil mastermind, but one of them having doubt if they should really resurrect her was the one thing that made me want to take another look at the movie to see if there were any more details I didn’t remember. (Hopefully without spoiling too much, there is very interesting similar plot thread in Neon Genesis Evangelion, which I really loved.) But no, there wasn’t. It was a hint of something interesting and nothing ever comes from it. The other characters are a black guy Conan knows who shows up in a few scenes, apparently his second in command, but who never does anything. Then there is a woman who screams a lot and also doesn’t do anything. And finally an annoying thief character sidekick who screams just as much and does even less, and should have been played by Rob Schneider. Because when you’re producing utter crap, then do it right! I can’t remember the names of any of these characters and that is always a very strong indicator that the plot of the movie is shit. It means that there isn’t any relevant conversation in which people talk about characters. Instead they are just cardboard cutouts. I had the same experience when I was watching Avatar. Which was also bad, but not nowhere near as crap as this.

Conan barely has any resamblance to Conan at all. The only thing that feels a bit like Conan is when he shoves other people around with complete disregard for their complaints. That is a trait the character actually has. But Conan is a guy who is usually pretty cheerful and energetic. This guy is just mopey and gloomy while trying to be edgy. And then they have the audacity to have him say “I love, I love, I slay, and I am content”! A real quote from a Conan story that is a very popular line to sum up the character of Conan in a few words. Here it is just a sad joke. This is not the man of gigantic sorrows and gigantic mirth. This is just a whiny emo crybaby.

Of course, there is something like a romance sub”plot”, but I think most porn movies would feel to embarrased to try anything like this. Conan looks at the women for a few seconds, suddenly they kiss and then there’s a dark sex scene. The next morning she secretly leaves him while he still sleeps and is captured by the villains no less than 20 seconds later. A bit earlier, some unidentified men in boats board Conans ship early in the morning. Then there is a fight scene, the attackers are all killed, and Conans crew cheers, and then it’s cut to the next scene, the whole event never mentioned again. Now probably these were meant to be some more of the villains minions, but this scene has no narrative content or pupose at all. It’s just five minutes of fighting without sense or reason. And I believe this movie exist entirely for the stunts and effects. Which aren’t even that great or interesting. And during all these action scenes the movie uses Michael Bay cutting more agressively than even Micheal Bay, cutting about once per second on average and at some points even more often. Good luck finding any point in a fight scene where you get more than 3 seconds without a cut. And since I am at fight scenes, Conan always only fights in loincloth and the other costumes also look bad. And the two villains both use utterly ridiculous swords. Again, if you produce crap, do it right. They should have used the weapons from Krull and The Sword and the Sorcerer instead.

"We've been watching you, and we think you are a turd!"

“We’ve been watching you, and we think you are a turd!”

Crom, what a shitty movie! I think this is even worse than The Scorpion King. I think it might actually be the worst movie I’ve ever seen. And this includes Dungeons & Dragons. I am glad I only use a two point rating scale, or I would have to really think hard how shit this movie really is. But so I can say without doubt in my voice: Nay! Do not watch this shitty movie, but crush the DVD, see it driven before you, and hear the lamentation of its makers.

What an utter turd.

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