Whenever a movie starts off with the narration by Morgan Freeman the audience can’t help but feel interested. Unfortunately his narration does not last the entire film.
Conan the Barbarian is not a remake of the original film starring the much loved Arnie but a re-imagining based on the character of Conan, starring Jason Mamoa as the titular character. As expected he is physically huge but his acting is perhaps a little lackluster – but it seems to work for this role, a role that is more action-oriented than emotionally compelling. As the audience might expect, grunting replaces speech much of the time, but that’s to be expected – Conan is a mass of muscle out for vengeance, not someone who speaks the Queen’s English and indulge in long moments of explanatory dialogue.
The film focuses a lot on the origins of Conan but it sometimes it focuses on it too long. This feeling is shattered when the barbarian village is attacked from all sides by all different tribes. The battle is a bit confusing (it not being clear who is fighting who) but, nonetheless, it is bloody, violent and interesting to watch. This is followed by the rather undramatic death of Conan’s father.
The effects in Conan the Barbarian are what really stand out. There can’t be all that violence and action without blood – something this film knows and delivers. At some points it does seem like the film makers are just putting blood effects in for the hell of it, but there are also some beautiful moments when it is used amazingly to create an impact and shock. There are moments when the special effects are a bit ropey, such as a water monster near the end, but in the middle of the film Conan fights some well-made sand monsters. Could it be a result of a budget spent too soon as happens with many other action movies?
For all of its good special effects, there does seem to be a few holes in the story and continuity. One of the major downfalls lies in the cuts and wounds Conan receives – one minute they’re there, the next he doesn’t have a mark on him. He has a few old scars but none from the battles the film shows.
With all this considered, Conan the Barbarian is still what an audience wants from a film about a vengeful angry barbarian, packed with action, violence and blood.