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Published on August 25th, 2011 | by David


Conan The Barbarian: 2011 And Still Slaying To Contentment

Af­ter an over­done Pa­per-Mario-His­to­ry-Chan­nel-Lord-of-The-Rings mashup in­tro nar­rat­ed by Mor­gan Free­man, Co­nan the Bar­bar­ian takes us to the myth­i­cal Hy­bo­ri­an Age, where a young Anakin looka­like un­leash­es gory fury on a band of slight­ly or­cish raiders near his vil­lage. Short­ly there­after a horde of black rid­ers led by chief Bad Guy Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) storms through his vil­lage, killing ev­ery­one.

Fast for­ward 20 years or so, and young Anakin has turned in­to the chis­eled, beefy Ja­son Mo­moa, hot off “Game of Thrones.” The ap­par­ent love child of Brad Pitt and The Rock, the Hawai­ian Mo­moa fills out his role per­fect­ly, as a sav­age, beau­ti­ful war­rior hell-bent on aveng­ing his peo­ple. He ca­vorts, kills some bad­dies, frees some slaves, kills some more bad­dies, and even­tu­al­ly meets Tama­ra (Rachel Nichols), a “pure­blood” maid­en crit­i­cal to Zym’s quest for glob­al dom­i­na­tion.

Nichols de­liv­ers her cheesy lines as well as can be ex­pect­ed, and brings the classi­est per­for­mance in the movie. There’s a lit­tle bit of a Han So­lo/Leia dy­nam­ic here- though in­stead of barbed sar­casm to set­tle a dis­agree­ment, Co­nan deals with his head­strong com­pan­ion by ty­ing up and gag­ging her. When our hero­ine isn’t a squirm­ing damsel in dis­tress, she’s stab­bing bad­dies with sus­pi­cious­ly well-honed knife skills for a peace­ful maid­en. Be­liev­able? Maybe not, but like the 3D ef­fects in Co­nan, the plot holes aren’t worth star­ing at too close­ly. Once they work out their dif­fer­ences, Co­nan and Tama­ra head off to con­front Zym (and his evil, ra­zor-nailed daugh­ter), abort his evil quest, and save the land.

Speak­ing of 3D, how long is it go­ing to take the movie in­dus­try to re­al­ize that post-pro­duc­tion 3D will nev­er work? Rather than spring for a full 3D pro­duc­tion or even do a few key scenes in 3D, Co­nan is shot en­tire­ly 2D and than three-di­men­sion­al­ized by com­put­er af­ter­wards. The ef­fect is an eye-strain­ing, card­board cutout crapfest. Save your mon­ey and watch in 2D.

If you have an aver­sion to gore, avoid this movie. Rather than clean en­try wounds or car­toon­ish limb-sev­er­ing, we get smashed-in skulls, bloody gash­es, and quite a few im­pal­ings- the guy’s a bar­bar­ian af­ter all. The fo­ley ef­fects are top-notch, and I found the ac­tion more com­pelling than oth­er head-bash­ing fare like 300, Troy, and Spar­ta­cus. Trad­ing out slow-mo­tion pirou­ettes and le­gions of CG war­riors for good old bone-crunch­ing, mano-a-mano com­bat, Co­nan’s re­venge quest is vis­cer­al­ly sat­is­fy­ing.

Peo­ple bash car­toon­ish epics like Co­nan for the cheesy act­ing, but this isn’t ex­act­ly Os­car ma­te­ri­al, and the ripped, moody hero, vir­ginal girl, pow­er-hun­gry vil­lain, and sexy, rep­til­ian witch la­dy fill out their roles won­der­ful­ly. The plot is pre­dictable ac­tion fare, but again, we’re watch­ing this to see what crazy ac­tion se­quence is com­ing next, not to un­cov­er a deep mean­ing in the writ­ing.

In the words of Co­nan: “I live, I love, I slay. I am con­tent”– leave your girl­friend at home, re­mem­ber that this is a re­make of a Schwarzeneg­ger movie, and have a great time with this bloody, campy slash­fest. Co­nan the Bar­bar­ian in 2D and 3D is now play­ing in the­aters.

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About the Author

David has been writing professionally since 2008, as a translator and product editor for Japan Trend Shop. Along the way he has worked in IT for Six Apart (and its reincarnation as SAY Media), Naked Communications, and Tokyo 2.0, as well as volunteering his nerdiness for dance events and organizations such as the Fusion Exchange and the Portland Swing and Jazz Dance society. After graduating Lewis & Clark College in 2010, David entered the Teach for America program, and taught Algebra and Geometry at Aptos Middle School in San Francisco. When he's not educating young minds or buried in a computer screen, he spends his time dancing, and frequently teaches dance with fellow TrulyNet author Ruth Hoffman.

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