Conan the Barbarian 2011
Sunday , 22, November 2020
I wrote this review of Conan the Barbarian (2011) on September 3, 2011 immediately after seeing the movie. I put it up at the old Conan forum which is now gone. I have been meaning to run this for some time and thought why not now? So, let us travel back to 2011:
I caught Conan the Barbarian today. I am on vacation and had planned on seeing it. I was thinking of blowing it off, but it got to 91 degrees today with a dew point of 72 degrees. That converts to it being steam and I wasn’t going to do an eight-mile bike ride the way I planned.
Take home impression: This is a SyFy Channel movie with a big budget. Very influenced by the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
What I didn’t like:
- The Lord of the Rings pastiche opening was truly amateur looking with the papier mache stars
- Ron “the Jewish barbarian” Perlman’s disguised as a Wookie. Made me think of the Wookie defense on South Park. Maybe the film makers wanted some sort of connection to Thundarr the Barbarian’s sidekick Ookla the Mok.
- The Cimmerians were barbarians, not cavemen. Some wool tartans and Celtic mustaches would have gone a long way.
- These supposedly bad ass barbarians live in a village that can be attacked easily. Where are the guards? A Celtic hill fort again would have been more appropriate.
- The shaky camera used in the young Conan vs. Pict sequence.
- I didn’t like Leo Howard as young Conan. He is too too swarthy. He looked he came from off the streets of Palermo or Naples.
- We finally get to see the Nemedian Navy. The ship pulled by slaves? WTF!
- It got to be a game for me to see what scene was swiped from what movie. The Raiders of the Lost Ark wagon chase, the double sword from Sword and the Sorcerer, the jump from the cliff from Swashbuckler, the attack on a monastery from any number of Kung Fu movies, the sand man attack from The Mummy, holding the baby up taken from Roots, the Freddy Kruger finger blades etc.
- The editing was often horrible. Conan has his sword out on horseback, a couple of seconds later he is pulling his sword out.
- The thief sidekick who stole Benny’s moves from The Mummy.
- The constant shoving of swords into the ground. I cut a lot of wood with a chainsaw. If those steel blades hit dirt, you have to take off the chain and sharpen it. I seriously doubt anyone from a sword wielding age would do such a thing.
- The swordplay with the father with swords hitting against each other would notch up the blades to point of being useless.
- Some of the dialogue was cringe worthy. “You cut my nose!” Or Khalar Zym saying “Come on.”
- I had this problem with Pathfinder. You don’t walk around half naked in the snow. I live in a cold place that has 4-5 months of deep snow on the ground. I have hunted deer in the snow. You don’t go out like those Picts with only pants on.
- I didn’t realize wood exploded so well.
- Those papier mache boulders rolled down on the slaver compound were pretty cheesy looking.
- Blood doesn’t spurt out by the gallon with a back cut. I cut on people for a living and it doesn’t explode out unless you cut an artery.
- Rachel Nichol’s character, Tamara, is supposed to be an Hyrkanian. Robert E. Howard describes the Hyrkanians as being tall and dark. They are Hyborian Age analogs to the Ottoman Turks. Rachel Nichols features are very Celtic with the very white skin and blue eyes. Not at all eastern looking.
- What is the deal with the ersatz Shaolin monastery? Is this some half-assed attempt to segue into a Kung Fu movie?
Momo the Samoan
Jason Momoa had the character down better than Arnold “Chip Rommel” Schwarzenegger. I still think Christian Bale would have been my choice. He even could have spoken in his native Welsh accent.
Things I did like:
- Hooter- some people complain about the gratuitous female nudity. I celebrate female anatomy!
- Rose McGowan in my mind stole the scenes she was in.
- Stephen Lang would have made a decent Xaltotun (with beard).
- The Bulgarian countryside is obviously a great place to film a sword and sorcery movie.
- The citadel in the last 20 minutes looked good.
- I thought the last 20 minutes of the movie seemed to flow better than the earlier ¾ of the movie.
- Rachel Nichols was good eye candy. She isn’t a great actress, but you don’t need Merle Streep for the Hyborian slave bimbo of the story.
I went in expecting worse. I caught the early bird 1:10 P.M. showing and saw it in 2D instead of 3D. Paid $5.00 which is an acceptable loss. I can’t say that I can recommend anyone spending $8.25 and will tell someone just to wait and catch it on Starz, Encore, or even SyFy Channel in a couple years.
The shame is plot items including Acheron and resurrecting a sorcerer (or in this case, a witch) has been used. Millenium Films/Avi Lerner, Donnelly & Oppenheimer, and director Marcus Nispel have peed in the proverbial swimming pool preventing a version of HOUR OF THE DRAGON.
I have the impression that this movie was made as a snatch & grab with no intent on making a sequel or future installments. This strikes me as a roll of the dice of take the money and run.
So, there you go. My thoughts from nine years ago. I have caught a few brief snatches of the movie on T.V. here and there but not sure if I could bring myself to sit for close to 2 hours to watch it again.