The original CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) was a seminal film for me growing up and after the disappointing sequel CONAN THE DESTROYER (1984), I longed for another adventure. KING CONAN maybe? But alas it would never come even after years of teases that it might.
So instead we get a reboot courtesy of Director Marcus Nispel. I felt he did an above average job on the remake of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and was curious how he’d handle the Cimmerian warrior.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t quite capture the iconic barbarian as I hoped. Not as bad as the reviews say it is, it’s not that great either.
The story begins with Conan’s bloody birth on the battlefield to a mother who survives barely long enough to name him. Brought up by a father (Ron Perlman) who as leader of the Cimmerians,demands the most from a son of his lineage. Conan is taught to fight from an early age and when ready, taught the secret of steel.
Not soon after, Khalar Singh (Stephen Lang) and his army attack Conan’s home in search of an ancient relic that when assembled might bring his wife back from the dead. Burned as a witch, he along with his daughter Marique, want revenge against those that have wronged them. Conan’s father is killed in the battle and his village destroyed. He barely escapes with his life.
Years later as an adult, Conan (now Jason Momoa) lives life as a barbarian for hire, but when he crosses paths again with Singh and his witch daughter (Rose McGowan), he sees a chance to fulfill a personal vendetta and save Hyboria in the process from a supernatural evil.
Not the worst plot in the world, but it sounds better than it actually plays out. The biggest disappointment is that it doesn’t exactly bring anything new to the table and most of the film feels overly familiar from other films or TV shows that handle fantasy better.
Another gripe is that the film has too contemporary a feel in the dialogue and acting style to the point where the characters feel anachronistic at times. This kept pulling me out of the movie.
Given that I wish for further adventures, I hope if the filmmakers do decide to continue the legend that they spend a little more time crafting something on the level of GAME OF THRONES or LORD OF THE RINGS. Fans of Robert E. Howard’s Conan deserve better.