Thursday, 4 August 2011

Movie Review: Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Movie Review: Conan the Barbarian
Directtor: John Milius, 1982
IMDB listing

Pros: genre classic, lots of action, intelligent female warrior-thief

Cons: boring, little character development, limited plot (character driven), Schwarzenegger does the barbarian warrior role well but isn't quite convincing as a thief

Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is taken as a slave after watching the destruction of his village by Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones)'s warriors.  The movie follows Conan's life as he becomes a pit fighter and later a thief, culminating in a job that requires he save a young princess from the religious cult Thulsa Doom now leads.

Several things impressed me about this movie.  The lands Conan travels through are populated by diverse races - portrayed by a racially diverse cast.  The magician they encounter who narrates the events (played by Mako) is Asian.  Thulsa Doom is African American.  It makes the world feel real.

I also liked Sandahl Bergman's portrayal of Valaria.  She's introudced as a strong, competent warrior-thief.  While she's only in the last third of the film, she plays a pivital role in freeing the princess and saving Conan's life.  The only thing I found odd about her incllusion was the fact that, aside from the end credits, her name is never used.  I only knew who she was by having watched Conan the Destroyer as a child (where she's mentioned by name several times).

There was very little magic, and what there was was done with a realistic slant, so no bad special effects marred the film.

The plot (and I used the term loosely) was drawn out and, despite several fight scenes, rather boring.  There was a lot of Conan travelling, trying to find traces of Thulsa Doom with a voice over narration.  As for the characters, they're all very two dimensional.  There's no development beyond the forging of a few friendships.

Ultimately it's worth seeing as it's a genre classic, but don't expect a modern action movie.

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