Conan the Barbarian, a film by Marcus Nispel

By James Gilmore

Don’t go into Marcus Nispel’s Conan the Barbarian expecting an expert remake of the 1982 classic by John Milius. You won’t get it.

The 2011 Conan is an action-soaked bonanza without any pretense at storytelling depth.  Nispel bombards our senses through an orgy of stylization and violence in an attempt to mask its slender content, but no amount of polished veneer can obscure the shallowness beneath.  The storytelling is clumsy and repetitive at best, hyper-extending itself to stretch a thin 60-minute perfunctory plot over two painstaking hours in an endless string of action vignettes in which the audience is whisked through time and space to a number of noncontiguous historical eras.

(Let’s not mention the fact that the acting and poorly written dialogue are enough to make you want to run for the hills.)

Movie poster for Conan the Barbarian remake 2011, a film by Marcus Nispel, on Minimalist Reviews.

Visually, Conan is a gruesome mishmash of every other fantasy film ever made, numerous elements being ripped almost directly out of better, more fulfilling constituents of the genre (which shall remain unnamed).

As for the character Conan, he is barely a character at all.  Employing the oft-overused-in-Hollywood cliché as his template, this impetuous hot-headed central character is more an excuse to paste the screen with gore than a true protagonist.

The only accomplishment worth lauding Conan for is the duping of Hollywood into spending $70 million on what is essentially an expensive-looking B movie.  And Hollywood executives wonder why audiences won’t pay up at the box office to see piles of sugar-coated poo…

(Meanwhile, thousands of excellent scripts waste away on shelves, unread.)

So if you’re up to stuffing a handful of dollar bills down the garbage disposal or want to watch actors don ridiculous costumes and douse each other in fake blood for an evening, pick up a copy of Marcus Nispel’s Conan the Barbarian.  If you are a fan of his kitschy horror resumethen you will probably take this bloated little number in stride.

Otherwise, see aforementioned garbage disposal.

Rating:  1.5 / 5