Review: Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Remaking one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1980s classics proved controversial, but as someone who’s never bought into the franchise… the 2011 film was acceptable, if clumsy.

The film follows the story of a young man’s vengeance against the one who killed his father, his killer being a necromancer king bent on unlocking the powers of resurrection with an ancient mask.
The narrative is incredibly straight forward, from the villain’s quest for the shards of the mask, to Conan’s protection of a “pure blood” monk whose sacrifice is required to empower the mask. The whole thing feels phoned in.
The introduction gave me hope; production values were good, Ron Perlman is Conan’s father, good sword work and action scenes, but once the second act kicked in I realised the film was dragging its feet. Everyone watching will think “She’s going to be kidnapped”, and the film dawdled around with the idea: “Is it going to happen now?… No? Oh, okay now it is. No? Okay I’ll just wait…” Evidentially the time could have been spent on character development, but it wasn’t particularly. This dragging practically killed the final act’s suspense for me, in fact errors seemed to increase as the film continued.
The film certainly had a lot of action, and cannot be faulted for at least being interesting to look at, but there are some flaws in editing and definitely in writing with any consistency. Did the thief character even need to be in here?

If you like your fantasy films, big burly men smashing people’s heads in, swords and sorcery, you can’t go too far wrong. It isn’t as bad as people are saying. I’d rather watch this than the Arnie version (sorry guys) but it certainly isn’t a gem.

Additional Marshmallows: Why doesn’t Hollywood learn that having three writers for one film is the equivalent to the kiss of death? Still, Brett Ratner was meant to direct this originally, at least we were spared that!


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