5-Word 365 #270 – Conan The Barbarian (2011)

I felt like doing another live commentary review today. This is frankly the perfect movie for it; there’s plenty happening and most of it is at least vaguely ridiculous. On a related note, I’ve been toying with the idea of maybe recording one of these as an actual audio commentary that you can sync up and listen to when you’re watching the movie at home. Kinda like Rifftrax, but free. Let me know if you have any comments on that. But in the mean time, here’s this…

Conan the Barbarian

Shame there won’t be sequels.

After being born in the midst of battle (literally), Conan of Cimmeria is raised by his blacksmith father to be a cunning warrior. Years later, when a ruthless warlord is on the brink of possessing the powers of a god, only Conan can save the world from eternal slavery.

0:01 I feel an overwhelming urge to buy car insurance. I don’t even have a car. (You’ll probably only get that gag if you’re in the UK. Nothing like some good regional comedy to get the show started).

0:02 There’s the mighty Ron Perlman; a man who never met a script he didn’t like. Looking good, Ron. Love the hair. Great midwifery skills too. I like how you cut that baby out of your wife’s belly without even looking.

0:04 Little robot baby Conan! With a weird Lion King vibe as well. Why did the battle suddenly end as soon as Ron stopped paying attention?

0:09 Wow, that guy really howled when li’l Conan shanked him in the foot. So that’s what a shaved Wookiee looks like.

What do you reckon, about a B cup?

0:14 Enter the hordes on horseback. These guys must either be super focussed or just really shit at their jobs to not notice a kid running around the place. It’s not like he’s even hiding very carefully. But if they spotted him, they’d probably kill him, which means this film would only last fourteen minutes and have a real downer ending.

0:16 Quarritch!

0:19 “You know why I’m here, but for the sake of the audience I’m going to tell you anyway. One piece is missing from the mask. Quick, random henchman, hold up the mask so the people at home can see.” Oh hey, that looks a lot like the mask Morgan Freeman just told me had been broken into shards and scattered across the world, never to be restored. Should have used Fedex.

0:21 Quarritch’s daughter looks like the world’s first goth. Cheer up, goth. Have an Irn Bru.

0:22 Under the floorboards? Really, Corin? As far as hiding places go, that was just shit. Were there no shovels in Cimmeria? Nobody could have dug one really deep hole?

0:26 “Conan left Cimmeria.” Hey Morgan Freeman, is this a dramatic narration or the audio description for the blind track?

0:28 Conan’s all grown up and has started raiding slave colonies, sayeth Morgan Freeman (paraphrased). You what this movie needs? More CG blood spatter. And tits.

0:29 Thanks, Marcus Nispel. Great minds think alike.

0:30 I think they might be arm wrestling. I’m not sure; there are a lot of tits in the shot.

0:35 Well that brings a whole new meaning to “picking your nose”.

What was I talking about again?

0:41 Rachel Nichols and her friends doing t’ai chi in togas. Why didn’t this win an Oscar.

0:45 This big horse chase thing through the forests seems oddly stilted. Maybe it’s the music. Needs more bass.

0:54 Time for the sparky heroine to give the big lug of a leading man (or “barbarian”, if you will) a lecture on gender equality. He will shortly see the error of his ways and untie her, at which point the evil henchman he has held captive in the corner will escape and steal off into the night with the newly untied heroine, only for our hero to go get her back again. Two to one on.

0:55 Nope. He’s just going to gag her instead. Bets off.

0:56 Wait, those two are father and daughter right? Cos that’s just downright inappropriate. Not to mention illegal.

0:59 Trebuchets are awesome. That is all.

0:59 (still) Also surprisingly accurate.

1:02 These sandmen are pretty decent for a quick fight scene. Worthy successors to the Ray Harryhausen skeletons? Certainly better than anything in Clash of the Titans.

1:03 They’d be quite easily defeated by a water gun though.

1:06 That double sword Quarritch has is both splendid, and marvellously impractical.

I am sorry Stephen Lang, but to me you will always be Quarritch

1:13 This fight on the boat is the best staged scrap yet. Decent sense of geography, a few different fronts to cut between, plenty of blood gouting all over the place.

1:24 Giant tentacles! No sword-and-sorcery flick these days is complete without some giant tentacle action.

1:32 I’m enjoying this final fight. It started off a bit Temple of Doomy, with the girl chained to the wheel, but now she’s fallen down the hole and Conan and Quarritch are spinning around it and it’s all actually quite exciting. The falling shots are still a bit crap though.

1:34 And now it’s time for a chickfight. All the t’ai chi back at the monastery is going to come in handy.

1:40 After that fall, there really should have been a proper Wile E. Coyote puff of smoke on impact. You missed a trick there, Nispel.

1:44 Fin.

Normally I don’t let myself be swayed too much by other reviews, but I went in to this today with fairly low expectations. Ironically enough, that probably helped me enjoy the film for what it is: a fun, old-fashioned adventure story. It might not bear much similarity to Robert E. Howard’s stories (which I have never read) or Arnie’s two earlier movies (which I haven’t seen in so long I can barely remember them) but since I have nothing invested in either of those, it really doesn’t bother me. I liked this. It’s trash, but charming trash.


  1. Lynsey · September 27, 2012

    Good job young buck, love the live ones!

    • Ryan McNeely · September 27, 2012

      Thanks sis. This one was a lot of fun actually

  2. Parlor of Horror · September 27, 2012

    I was going along, nice and humorous, with a smile on my face until I got to that Im-Bru commercial – watched it – now I’m laughing so hard I have with tears in my eyes. I can barely see the the screen!

    • Ryan McNeely · September 27, 2012

      It’s a classic isn’t it? Irn Bru make the best ads. I was getting the embed for that last night and spent almost an hour just watching all the old ones, and nearly crying with laughter

  3. CMrok93 · September 30, 2012

    Overall, it’s an unnecessary reboot of a long dormant and ridiculous franchise, made purely to rake in the summer blockbuster money that most cinema goers will gladly fork over for any old rubbish. It’s not the worst film I’ve seen this year, hell not even the worst film I’ve seen this month, but by no means is it the best. Good review Ryan.

    • Ryan McNeely · October 1, 2012

      Thanks Dan. I think I liked it because it was at least self-aware. It knew exactly how cheesy it was and didn’t try to be anything else.

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

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