CONAN THE BARBARIAN  movie review
December 2, 2011 · Print This Article
It is now almost shocking to watch such an analog action adventure film like CONAN THE BARBARIAN . I mean that in a good way. Everything on screen looks so visceral and real. You see real violence and real romance. People are decapitated, often. There is nudity. The most gruesome soup you can imagine is brewed in the pits of a mountain and served to hedonists. Most of all perhaps is how religion permeates throughout the story. This is a real movie.
It was also the debut of Arnold Shwarzenegger. To this day no one could play the role he did. I was thinking, how could anyone realistically get as huge as he is back in those times, when there were no Gold’s Gyms or anything like that around. The answer? By pushing some enormous grinding wheel for a decade, non-stop. I can believe that.
Like many westerns, CONAN starts with the main character suffering a family tragedy. Conan’s parents are killed, he is enslaved. The plot is not entirely driven by Conan just seeking revenge. I found the story to be very interesting, as well as the other characters. Somehow James Earl Jones is an evil warrior chief that becomes the leader of a sect of followers based on worship of the snake.
There is a memorable battle between Conan and a huge snake. No CGI here, Arnold is really stabbing some kind of puppet. It may still look fake, but it looks way more real than any CGI monster I have seen. Again, the violence in this movie is full on. Blood jumps out of everything that gets slashed with a sword. The movie is almost gory. None of it seems that gratuitous though as it is all very well within the context of the world established by director John Milius and punctuated by the great score by Basil Poledouris.
I was impressed by CONAN THE BARBARIAN as a valuable action adventure movie mixing sword fighting with magic and religion preserving the more real analog ways of filmmaking.