Conan The Barbarian (1982)

So I was in the mood for some hack and slash, sword and sorcery kinda movie. Particularly, one I haven’t seen yet. A recent discussion of Dungeons and Dragons got me in the mood (I don’t know anyone anymore who plays D&D – at least no one who’ll admit it unfortunately). In the end I decided to watch Conan the Barbarian, which I’ve never seen.

The movie draws from other sources, none of which I’m familiar with. The story is basically about how Conan comes from nothing to someday be king (though we don’t see that here). As a child his parents are killed, he grows up in some tough shit, becomes a gladiator, latter is set free and becomes a sort of thief. In the end he manages to start a quest to get revenge on the weird and honestly, quite lame, sorcerer that killed his parents. The story line wasn’t exactly riveting to me, but at the time I guess it might have seemed better, mostly because we’ve had a chance to reuse this kind of thing more now.

Let me just jump to one of the things I really did not like about the movie. The pacing. The movie is two hours and it felt longer. Why? Because they structure the film like it was an epic along the lines of Ben-Hur or Lawrence of Arabia. It isn’t. Movies like that can get away with the long montages of nothingness, because in-between shit happens. Not only that but it’s good shit. Conan however uses a number of those long montage type sequences and there is little filler in between, especially for the first half of the movie. It’s just a lot of build up to finally get to the part where Conan is going to hunt down Doom.

I don’t know what to think of the acting either. Arnold Schwarzenegger is okay I guess. He at least looks great in the role. I liked watching him stand and fiddle with his sword, which really should have been bigger. James Earl Jones surprised me. I was unaware that he was in the movie and I’m kind of surprised. I don’t want to say he’s bad because it’s James Earl Jones. The role is what I’m choosing to blame. That and the make up. They gave him some weird looking long hair. The rest of the cast is all ok for the movie. I’m not dying to find out who anyone is because they blew me away, but it’s hardly the worst I’ve seen, especially from similar types of films.

The special effects were actually pretty good, more so probably because of the time and the action sequences were good, if again slow. The narration bothered me though. It wasn’t consistent enough for one and it just didn’t fit. Another one of those weird things that irked me.

As negative as most of that sounds, it wasn’t bad. I was just kind of hoping for something a bit more gritty and action packed I guess. Maybe I’m just spoiled from some good modern hack and slash sword movies, but Conan’s biggest drawback was just slow everything. Slow moving story, action, and dialogue (thank you Arnold).

I can understand why it’s considered a classic and I’m not set against watching it again. I’d defiantly need to be in the mood for it and at least now I have some idea of what is going to bug me.

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