CONAN THE BARBARIAN
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
I remember when the original “Conan the Barbarian” came out about 30 years ago, though I was too young to actually see it. But the legend is definitely epic, and it was one of those movies that became famous for its raw nature, even to the people who never saw it. It also launched Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career into superstardom.
So does this new “Conan the Barbarian” work the same way? Not exactly, and I wouldn’t expect this movie to be the one to launch star Jason Momoa’s career, though I think he shouldn’t be written off either. While this new “Conan” was soft at the box office, it’s still one hell of a fun movie. In some ways, I even liked it better than the original because it didn’t take itself so deathly seriously.
Not exactly a remake but more of a new take on the Conan legend, the film follows a barbarian warrior who was born on the battlefield and mastered the art of war. After his village is destroyed by an evil cult, he grows up to hunt down those responsible.
Momoa is fantastic as Conan, offering a level of badassery that his fans have come to expect from his television work in “Game of Thrones” and “Stargate Atlantis.” However, Momoa also brings a level of empathy and cuddliness to the character. In this film, Conan isn’t all about driving your enemies before you and hearing the lamentation of their women. He’s a sword and sandals superhero, trying to do what’s right for the right reasons. He’s not just out for revenge, but also for justice.
The special effects are fun, though obviously CGI, and the villains are top-notch, featuring a bizarre-looking Rose McGowan who only needs a wacky haircut to make her look creaturish, thanks to too many years of plastic surgery on her young face.
I wouldn’t call “Conan the Barbarian” a new classic, but it fit the bill in my book. There’s boobs, blood, gore and monsters. That’s what I expect from a Conan movie. To expect anything else is foolish.
The film is available in a variety of format, including the 3D Blu-ray, which is also playable in 2D players. The battle sequences are good for the 3D format, as well as the effects, which bring the viewer into the movie. The 3D Blu-ray is also packaged with the DVD of the movie and an option for Digital Copy.
Bonus material on the 3D Blu-ray includes two feature-length audio commentaries by director Marcus Nispel and also with the stars Jason Momoa and Rose McGowan. Featurettes include “The Conan Legacy,” “Robert E. Howard: the Man Who Would Be Conan,” “Battle Royal: Engineering the Action” and “Staging the Fights.”