Conan The Barbarian


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Conan the Barbarian review

“I live, I love, I slay – I am content!” states the barbarous Conan halfway through Marcus Nispel’s sword-and-sorcery actioner.

Those familiar with the 1982 version are unlikely to feel likewise after this tiresome reboot, a dull and desultory affair that’ll leave you feeling as cheated as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s missus.

Having previously devalued the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday The 13th series, Nispel hardly has the best rep when it comes to resuscitating moribund franchises.

Quelle surprise, then, that he makes a hash of this one, the German director missing not only the camp grandeur of John Milius’ original but also the vigour of 300, a film he clearly set out to emulate.

There’s no shortage of blood here, the levels of arterial splatter being established early by a forest scrap that ends with the young Conan (Leo Howard) dropping four severed heads at the feet of proud pop Ron Perlman.

Long before the lad has grown up to be Baywatch beefcake Jason Momoa, though, the carnage has become monotonously predictable.

There’s only so many ways to run a man through while charging at him on horseback.

Things liven up a little with the introduction of bad guy Khalar Zym (Avatar’s Stephen Lang) and his daughter Marique (Rose McGowan), a witch with Krueger-like blades on her pinkies and Elizabeth I’s hairline.

Even by genre standards, alas, their crazy quest – to bring Mrs Zym back from Hades with the aid of an old mask and ‘Pureblood’ Rachel Nichols – is a torturous one that, coupled with Conan’s plan to avenge Perlman’s murder, makes for a plot more swollen than its leading man’s pectorals.

Momoa is no Arnie. He’s no Rock either. In fact he’s nothing much at all: an anonymous, characterless hunk who’s outclassed even by the computer-generated sand mummies he’s called upon to vanquish.

Conan, we’re informed, has “the heart of a lion” and “the loyalty of a bloodhound”. They forgot “personality of a tree”.


If swords, sorcery, pecs and FX get your bloodlust pumping, there’s fleeting fun to be had. But mostly this Conan puts the bore in Hyboria.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • Ali1748

      Aug 16th 2011, 19:48

      Khal Drogo will rip out your throats for dissing his new movie. You've been warned !

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    • fuzzydunlop1

      Aug 17th 2011, 3:06

      I expected as much...

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    • ThrashGordon

      Aug 17th 2011, 10:32

      ''...a dull and desultory affair that’ll leave you feeling as cheated as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s missus.'' Ooooooooo!

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    • higgins78

      Aug 17th 2011, 13:22

      Actually I'm glad. It's about time this love affair with the "reboot" take a pasting, least where original film itself got everything right in the first place. I think tonight I shall pull out my Conan VHS and give it a celebratory viewing...

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    • annunziato

      Aug 17th 2011, 21:42

      I was looking forward to a Conan reboot as I felt it had so much potential but when I saw the trailer I gave up on it. The TF review above is no surprise judging by the trailer. A missed opportunity and one I will be steering well clear of.

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    • Azazeal4eva

      Aug 18th 2011, 13:10

      What a shame... we can only hope for a khal Drogo spinoff movie from Game of Thrones to show how be became the Khal of the dothraki!

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    • GarthMarenghi

      Aug 18th 2011, 15:44

      Most folks here only seem to know Momoa from Game Of Thrones, but he was actually great in his long-running role in Stargate Atlantis prior to that. So I wasn't miffed at his casting, just the idea of this remake in the first place. I don't see why they had to use the exact same title as the original movie either, but considering who ended up directing it - a guy who only seems interested in directing remakes of perfectly good films that don't need remaking - it's no surprise that it's pants. So, that's two cult classic genre movies remade poorly (this and Fright Night), fingers crossed Total Recall is c**p as well. Then maybe they'll stop butchering my favourite films!

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    • McSerious

      Aug 18th 2011, 18:42

      After Momoa doing so well in GoT, I'm laying this firmly at the director's feet! Although I've barely seen Total Film mention Game of Thrones online or off (I'm subscribed) its making me wonder if anyone there's actually had the good taste to watch it yet!

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    • kipwinchester

      Aug 18th 2011, 23:10

      well what a shock the film is c**p who would have thought a miscast momoa in eye liner would have made a bad conan oh wait that would be the idiots going on about khal drogo a character so one dimensional that a turd in a box could play him howards conan is much more complex then talking some nonsence and killing something then doing it again and again note for hollywood in the future rubbish director plus pc correct cast and bad script = rubbish film but the sad thing is there is going to be a second one

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    • dumdumboy

      Aug 19th 2011, 12:05

      Did anyone REALLY expect this reboot to have even a morsel of artistry? A complete mess*. The 3D was dull. The acting...well...if anyone in the cast have 'Actor' on their passport, then they should be arrested at customs ( I do believe it's illegal to lie about your occupation on a passport?). Isn't it time someone went and studied Frank Frazetta's iconic Conan paintings (the museum's in East Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania, do go) and use those as the art direction? Simply avoid. *saw a preview at last week's Empire Big Screen (c'mon Total Film...bring back your Red Carpet event).

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    • Talyseon

      Aug 22nd 2011, 4:38


      Conan is the ultimate swords and sorcery movie; action, adventure, sex and violence, fueled with testoterone, and greased with gore! Check out my full review:

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    • flashfanatic1

      Aug 26th 2011, 9:59

      I went in expecting to hate it & you know what I kinda liked it! Especially the young lad Leo Howard.

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    • scowler

      Aug 31st 2011, 17:11


      After reading many a rubbish review i had low expectations. But i really quite liked it ! Conan was never going to be shakespear. Its got blood letting and funny cheesy lines and the occasional bare boob and should be enjoyed for that. I for one will get it on dvd and watch it with a few beers inside me.

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    • Siban1982

      Sep 2nd 2011, 19:25


      Quite frankly one of the worst films I've seen at the cinema in a long time. This should have been straight to DVD. It started off OK but nothing special and generally got worse from there. There was nothing to the acting. The script was overly American and in parts way too modern sounding. The action was drawn out to the point of not just being predictable but utterly boring and the constant quick edits didn't help one bit in keeping me entertained. The times someone held something above their head and roared as loud as possible was painfully cringe worthy. Swords looked like they had no weight to them and were clearly wooden. What the hell was that mask thing?! It looked like it was made out of paper mashe it was obviously lite. Also I thought Conan was meant to be a lone barbarian but he seems to be part of or a leader to a bunch of pirates and a ship with the token black guy as his closest friend helping him out. Lastly what happens to Zyms massive army? They seemed to have buggered off somewhere by the end. A bunch of film students with half the budget could make a better film.

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