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Published on August 18th, 2011 | by simeon

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Conan the Barbarian

Conan.

The name either evokes pictures of half naked body builders, and topless wenches, or a very tall man with red, quaffed hair. Well, hopefully the former is what you are all thinking about, because that is what you are going to get. Nobody goes to a Conan movie for the tall, red haired guy. Right?

Jason Momoa, who is not awful to look at for a couple of hours, plays Conan. Physically, he is much truer to the character in the original source material, than the former governor of California. He also has this interesting gravity that makes you sit up and pay attention. Or maybe that was because he was shirtless for most of the movie.

Conan’s story begins as a baby, who is “battle born” and whose first taste, a familiar narrator states, “is not his mother’s milk, but her blood.” He is better then many of his village’s best warrior candidates and joins in a test that ends up being a battle against savages. While the other candidates run back to camp; Conan stay and fights. Not only does he return to the camp having passed the test, but he carries three of the savage’s heads with him. His father (Ron Pearlman) decides it is time to forge a sword and begin to train, with the father imparting sage words like, “You cannot yield the sword until you understand it.”

Conan’s training is interrupted by the arrival of Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), a ruthless warlord who brings death and destruction to Conan’s village. Zym’s on a a quest to to claim the final piece of a mask that will give him control of the magic of Asheron. Conan is left the sole survivor of his Cimmarian people, growing up to become a fierce warrior intent on avenging his father’s death. All the while, Zym and his daughter Marique continue on Zym’s quest to become a powerful god, in search of a “pureblood” – the one person whose blood will make the mask work. Inevitably, Zym and Conan’s paths cross again and swordfights ensue.

The best thing about this movie, for me, were the female leads. Rose McGowan as Marique and Rachel Nichols as Tamara (the pureblood) are both warriors. It was also excellent to have Conan acknowledge this in Tamara; even saying, “Cimmarian women are warriors, give her the leather and armor.” We would have never heard 1982’s Conan say anything like this.

Listening to people while leaving the movie I heard grumblings about how the Conan character never really had an origin story. This movie provides that, and because of this it also provides something that the original movies lacked: plot. Not that the plot is very rich, but again, nobody goes to a Conan movie for the story or the plot. Right?

2.5 out of 5 stars


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