At the Movies: Conan the Barbarian

If you’d like to wrap up your summer movie season in blood and gore, go see “Conan the Barbarian.”

If not, I suppose there’s always “Fright Night.”

This latest take on Robert E. Howard’s classic fictional character isn’t a remake of the 1982 film that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a movie star, but it shares the same basic plot: Would-be god-king comes to young Conan’s village, slaughters everyone but Conan, Conan grows up determined to get revenge.

This time around the would-be god-king is Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), who has come to a small village in Cimmeria to collect the last piece of a magic crown. The piece has been hid away by Conan’s father (Ron Perlman), but with help from his witchy daughter Marique (Rose McGowan), Khalar gets what he came for. He then burns the village to the ground, and only young Conan (Leo Howard) escapes.

Khalar’s plan is to resurrect his dead wife — a powerful witch. To do so he needs the magic crown and a woman of “pure blood.” Apparently this type of woman is hard to find as Khalar spends the next 20 years looking for one. But that’s OK, because it gives young Conan time to grow up into hunky Jason Momoa.

Adult Conan spends his life thieving and pirating and occasionally freeing slaves. One day he runs into one of the men who used to work for Khalar (He remembers the man after all these years because he chopped his nose off.).

Conan finally has a lead on the man who killed his family and in another convenient coincidence, he rescues Tamara (Rachel Nichols), the pureblood woman that Khalar has been looking for, from the stooges Khalar sent to abduct her.

If you’re looking for almost two hours of violence, gore, standard sword-and-sorcery scenery and set designs, decent special effects, and the occasional glimpse of a woman’s breasts, that’s what “Conan the Barbarian” delivers. And really, what right do you have to expect more from a Conan the Barbarian movie?

However, if you are the type who likes character development and an intriguing story then you won’t get much out of “Conan the Barbarian.” It’s basically another videogame-as-movie, with Conan going from place to place and fighting a bunch of bad guys here and a monster there.

There’s little humor or emotion of any kind here, and it just kind of sleepwalks to the end. You’d expect a guy with the power of a god to be more formidable but Conan basically defeats the villain by pulling the rug out from under him.

“Conan the Barbarian” is not a reboot of the caliber of such recent restarts as “Star Trek,” “Batman Begins” or the new “Planet of the Apes” movie.

Did it work for me?  I enjoyed it on the purely superficial level that it was aiming for, but I can’t recommend it beyond that.

This movie is available in 3D, but since I had to pay to see it I didn’t bother spending the extra cash. I doubt it would be worth it but I can’t say for sure.


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