I love Conan the Barbarian. The original Robert E. Howard stories are required reading in my home. The comics are superb and the Arnold Schwarzenegger film (first one at least) is one of my favorite films.
Arnold became a superstar thanks to this great film by John Milius. Everyone can quote it, and most of us love it. In recent years, I have come to be a huge Jason Momoa fan. I first saw him Stargate: Atlantis, and he absolutely rocked my socks as Khal Drogo in HBO’s Game of Thrones.
When I heard that Momoa would be cast as Conan, I was very happy. Physically he is a very good match for the literary Conan, and based on his Drogo performance, we knew he could pull of the role. Sadly, the finished product was nowhere near the quality that he could deliver.
Right from the start, this movie was bad…and I literally mean the start. The opening scene devolved into utter nonsense as Conan is born on a battlefield as his father cuts him from his mother’s stomach. He then hefts the infant above his head and lets loose a battle scream. I nearly turned off the dvd player at this point. I thought twice, and continued.
The biggest problem with this film is that there is no barbarism. Conan and his cohorts are far too trusting and honorable. Conan is supposed to be a thief at this point in his life…a lying cheating, whoring, barbarian. Here he is the noble savage, who stays true to his friends. There is nothing wrong with that, and Conan has certainly done this before, but he is literally giving his full trust to people he just meets in this film. The “Mcguffin” is not used at all. A magical mask that can raise the dead and control demons….which really does none of that in the course of the film.
Steven Lang is not a bad villain, but honestly it should have been his daughter Rose McGowan. In the end, she dies and he fights Conan to the death. She should have killed her father and used these awesome demonic powers to make a REAL threat to Conan in this. Instead, we bumble from one action set piece to another, with absolutely no gravitas or substance on screen.
I really hope that Momoa gets another shot at Conan, but they need to write a film that is worthy of the name Conan.