Review: 'Conan The Barbarian' is bloody, brutal, and possibly brain-damaged

Marcus Nispel's new "Conan The Barbarian" is the film equivalent of having someone punch you in the face for two straight hours while someone screams in your ear.  Now, if you like that sort of thing, buckle up, because "Conan" is absolutely stark raving mad from the first frame to the last.  Hyperviolent, with all the sexual sophistication of an eleven year old who just read his first "Hustler," and filled with utterly nonsensical set pieces, it is no more faithful a rendering of the work of Robert E. Howard than the 1982 John Milius film was.  It is, however, pulpy in an almost defiantly unapologetic way, and there is some kick to seeing a movie this gleefully unconcerned with offending modern sensibilities.  I would not call this the definitive "Conan" movie that I still hope someone makes some day, but I would say that it's unforgettably deranged, and I had fun watching it even as I felt shame over how much fun I was having.

I grew up on the Robert E. Howard stories, as well as the stories by other authors working in his world and the Marvel comics treatment by Roy Thomas, and I had very strong feelings about the character before I ever saw the original Milius film.  When that came out in 1982, I fell in love with it as a movie, even though I didn't love it as an adaptation.  This time out, screenwriters Thomas Dean Donnelly & Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood have drawn definite inspiration from Howard's work, and you can go through the film and pick out moments here and there that are directly lifted from this story or that story.  Read More...


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