Saturday, 9 March 2013

Conan the Barbarian (1982)





















The first film to get Arnie on the way to the man he is today, and the first of three very similar fantasy flicks. Based on a pulp comic character from the 30's this film franchise turned the idea on its head and into a cult spanning many different formats and influencing other fantasy films, it also helped some videogames along the way.

The plot is simple, Conan is taken from his family who have been conveniently killed by a band of nasty warriors dressed in black. He is put into slavery and made to do hard labour for the rest of his foreseeable future. The torturous slavery makes Conan big and strong despite the apparent lack of decent food, nutrients, fishfingers or milk. He eventually is sold into gladiatorial fighting where he becomes a brilliant battler and swordsman and wins his freedom. From there on he's off to avenge his families death, as you do.

Obvious premise but its an old film folks. Yes the film is old, back in 82 things were different, what you see now when watching is a horribly cliched, predictable, hammy, semi cheap looking mess, but back then it was fresh...ish. All the bad guys wear black and look a bit camp with their wigs and handlebar moustaches, you wonder why exactly these groups of bad guys always attack and kill helpless useless peasants, what's in it for them? why they always leave one kid alive to grow up and take revenge on them?? and what is James Earl Jones character actually up to? what's his goal? his plans? why do all those people follow him? etc...

Yeah I know I'm being picky, it matters not really, the film is old and all these barbarian films are pretty much the same, its all about the spectacle and fantasy right. This first film is definitely more adult than the rest, lots of blood splashing about with limbs being hacked off...good stuff. Yet despite that there isn't too much action really, more character development surprisingly and what action there is has some nice effects too, nice snake work and some nice animated spirits also.

To be honest I've actually always preferred the original 'Beastmaster' film over Conan. There a few nice moments in this but really its pretty tepid, if only 'The Beastmaster' starred Arnie. And what the hell was that huge wheel thing Conan pushes for half his life suppose to be? a mill? a well? or merely for torture? a plan that backfired for Thulsa Doom methinks.

In the end the final teasing image and narration about King Conan is actually far more interesting and intriguing than the film that preceded it.


5/10