Conan the Barbarian
September 1, 2011
I mostly wanted to see this as an academic exercise, to compare it to the 1980’s version of the movie. Also, we used the free passes we got when the sound crapped out on us during Green Lantern, so I didn’t actually pay for it. Naked Jason Momoa might have influenced my decision as well.
My first reaction: This is another Dungeons and Dragons movie that’s a million times better than the actual Dungeons and Dragons movie.
To those complaining that this is just a bunch of bloody battles strung together by a thin plot: Dude, it’s called Conan the Barbarian. What were you expecting??? It delivered exactly what it promised, and did so in a mostly inoffensive manner. The landscapes were actually quite marvelous, and a number of scenes and images reminded me of the old Weird Tales covers where Conan got his start, which makes me think someone on the movie did their homework. Leading actress/McGuffin Tamara was quite awesome and kick ass, at least until the third act when she went into full-on McGuffin mode. That always ticks me off. I did miss Valeria. Also, I kept wondering why the evil sorceress looked just like Evil-lyn from the live-action He-Man movie.
Now, the comparison. Hard to do, because these are two completely different movies. The only similarity being that the bunch of horses get gratuitously punched out in the new Conan, which I can’t help but think is a tribute to the old.
2011 Conan is about a man who loses everything and then sets off through a fallen world on a quest for revenge. This is a very easy, cliche story, and the movie showed it.
1982 Conan is about a man who loses everything and then wanders through a fallen world searching for meaning/purpose, and comes to decide that the only meaning he can find are the companions by his side he can trust through all troubles. It’s a much more interesting story than the former, especially in the ways it embraces its nihilistic impulses. There is nothing in this world but the sword, and that’s okay. Also, Conan’s companions, Subotai and Valeria, are fully realized, interesting characters in their own right. We believe their friendship, we root for them, and that’s awesome. This is something else the new Conan is very much missing — none of the secondary characters rise above their stereotypes.
Of course, the definitive Conan adaptation is still the one Robot Chicken did.