Conan the Barbarian 2011

Sunday , 22, November 2020 6 Comments

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:

  1. The Lord of the Rings pastiche opening was truly amateur looking with the papier mache stars
  2. 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.
  3. The Cimmerians were barbarians, not cavemen. Some wool tartans and Celtic mustaches would have gone a long way.
  4. 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.
  5. The shaky camera used in the young Conan vs. Pict sequence.
  6. 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.
  7. We finally get to see the Nemedian Navy. The ship pulled by slaves? WTF!
  8. 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.
  9. The editing was often horrible. Conan has his sword out on horseback, a couple of seconds later he is pulling his sword out.
  10. The thief sidekick who stole Benny’s moves from The Mummy.
  11. 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.
  12. The swordplay with the father with swords hitting against each other would notch up the blades to point of being useless.
  13. Some of the dialogue was cringe worthy. “You cut my nose!” Or Khalar Zym saying “Come on.”
  14. 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.
  15. I didn’t realize wood exploded so well.
  16. Those papier mache boulders rolled down on the slaver compound were pretty cheesy looking.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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:

  1. Hooter- some people complain about the gratuitous female nudity. I celebrate female anatomy!
  2. Rose McGowan in my mind stole the scenes she was in.
  3. Stephen Lang would have made a decent Xaltotun (with beard).
  4. The Bulgarian countryside is obviously a great place to film a sword and sorcery movie.
  5. The citadel in the last 20 minutes looked good.
  6. I thought the last 20 minutes of the movie seemed to flow better than the earlier ¾ of the movie.
  7. 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.

6 Comments
  • John E. Boyle says:

    I saw this a few months ago and I think you nailed it with your lists of Liked and Didn’t Like, with the exception of Christian Bale.

    Just can’t see him as Conan, although he has portrayed boxers and a Welsh accent would suit the character just fine. The thing is I can’t think of anyone else as good or better so maybe you’re right. I’ve heard Armie Hammer and Henry Caville suggested as possibilities but I don’t think either of them could handle Conan.

  • Sir Balin says:

    Oh god, I thought this was the worst movie, typical 80s remake, completely devoid of creativity. Simply a rehash of the 80s movie. I love Conan the Barbarian and Destroyer to a lesser extent. But they are not Howard’s Conan. They are a blend of Howard and the barbarian from Tales of Neveryon. A unique, but sadder, more victimish character is created.

    Howard’s Conan was briefly captured as a teenager, but escapes rather quickly and was not raised in slavery. He was always master of his situation. The Conan from destroyer is more like Howard’s light hearted Conan. There is room for another, truer Conan movie, but given the state of creativity in the movie industry, I doubt we will see it in our lifetime.

  • Mike Tuggle says:

    I agree that Momoa did an outstanding job. Unfortunately, as you say, the script was lame.

  • Fred Blosser says:

    I forgot this came out on a Labor Day weekend, the start of the September dumping ground for movies that execs are already writing off. Saw it once on DVD, never watched it again. The repeated shoving-sword-into-the-ground bit stuck in my mind too as ludicrous.

  • Hector Frankenthal says:

    The movie Conans are the result of producers catering to the expectations of their audience (… and it was ever so). As a resut we get the Frazetta-esque mane instead of Howard’s description of Conan’s hair cut roughly off at the nape; Howard acknowledged that long hair is a liability on the battlefield: it gives your enemy something to grab onto and pull you down; but audiences raised on Marvel Conan comics expected their Conan to have long, splendiferous hair. And what’s with the manica worn by Conan in the 2011 movie? That’s Roman gladiator armor: here the producers were doubtless thinking a manica is cool-looking, so we get Jason Momoa in a manica. But a manica is essentially Roman theatrical armor: a manica gave a gladiator some protection when coupled with a shield, but not too much protection that the other gladiator had no opportunity to draw blood on a hit. Howard described Conan wearing appropriate armor in his stories. His description of Conan’s armor (mail, greaves, basinet) in Black Colossus reads true. But movie logic is: you don’t cover up your main actor.

  • Andy says:

    I hated it. The movie needed someone who actually wanted to make a Conan movie, but instead they got a lazy guy who just thought Frazetta paintings look cool and wanted to regurgitate some stuff from the Arnold movie before mailing it in. The cast was game but they had nothing to work with.

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