CONAN THE BARBARIAN is an intense, albeit very bloody, adventure of a hero who must summon every last ounce of strength in order to save the world and the one he loves. Although the hero is fighting an occult madman, the story in CONAN THE BARBARIAN often gets lost in the excessive gore, nudity and lewd content, which ultimately leaves viewers with a troubling, humanist, godless, dog-eat-dog outlook on life.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN is the story of a young hero who, born amid battle, grows up to avenge his father’s death at the hands of an occult madman.
The movie begins with the birth of Conan (played by Jason Mamoa) when an enemy sword plunges into his mother’s womb. As his mother dies, Conan’s father cuts him out and raises him. Conan grows into an ambitious youngster who shows prodigious talent for taking the life of other men when some beast-like warriors surround him in the woods. Conan brings their heads back to camp as a prize and his father is impressed, so he forges him a sword.
However, before Conan can fully use the weapon, the evil lord Khalar Zym (played by Stephen Lang) ransacks his village looking for pieces of a magical mask to give him power to rule the world and to bring back his dead wife. Witnessing his father’s torturous death, young Conan vows revenge.
Through a series of extremely violent and disorienting plot points, Conan finds out where to find Khalar. Accompanied by his sorcerer daughter, Khalar and his minions are marching on a peaceful city. They are looking for a “true blood,” a descendent of a magical group of people so they can use the person’s blood to complete his occult ritual with the magical mask. However, the true blood priestess Tamara (Rachel Nichols) is able to escape, runs into Conan and falls under his protection – or rather bondage.
Conan’s quest thickens as he realizes he might be the only man capable of stopping Khalar from oppressing the entire world, as well as saving the life of the girl he’s beginning to love. Ultimately, Conan finds himself in a position where he must choose either to fight Khalar or lose Tamara. His decision will determine not only his own destiny, but also the fate of the world.
The story to CONAN isn’t great, but it has its exciting moments. The plot revolves around a memorable protagonist who, conflicted since childhood, lashes out in anger at the world around him. However, it’s hard to admire Conan. At times he seems crueler than the bad guys, and in the end we’re left wondering if he’s learned anything at all beyond a few new sword maneuvers. Moreover, his hedonistic lifestyle is poorly appealing. When asked by Tamara if he thinks there might be a bigger plan or purpose to life, he responds that all he knows is to “live, love, slay, and be content” (thereupon the two consummate their lust in a graphic sex scene).
Furthermore, the presence of occult content is troubling. At one point Khalar claims to be god, which Conan and his father deny, not out of respect for the true God, but out of disrespect for the concept of God altogether. They tell Khalar, “god or not, you will fall,” thus trusting to their own might to overcome conflict. Thus, the realm of the supernatural is trivialized to magic. For example, when Conan defeats Khalar and his witch, Conan thereby defeats the very concept of God – leaving viewers with a bleak outlook for life dependent solely on man’s own strength without the support of a loving, omnipotent Creator. Conan’s view of man as violent meat-machine leaves little room for redeeming values such as grace and compassion. Another shocking instance is when the occult witch perverts the concept of the body as a temple when performing magic on Tamara so that her deceased mother can possess her in order to transform her into her deceased mother.
Overall, Movieguide® finds CONAN’s graphic violence and depicted nudity and sex excessive and its humanist, godless, hedonistic, anti-supernatural worldview abhorrent. Though the hero, Conan, fights the occult villains, the occult magic in CONAN THE BARBARIAN is still disturbing and scary.
(HHH, OO, Fe, B, AC, VVV, SS, NN, AA, DD, MM) Heavy humanist worldview as hero does basically whatever he wants in order to remain the last man standing and achieve his own selfish aims, which ultimately trumps the occult magic and sorcery of the evil occult villains arrayed against him, plus light feminist elements as women play prominent role in battle and sorcery and some morally uplifting anti-slavery, anti-totalitarian elements; no foul language; excessive violence such as intense battle scenes, body dismemberment (nose, arms, legs, heads that still twitch), bodies impaled on swords, spikes, spears, and arrows, animal violence against horses, women participate in battle, baby is born cut from womb of mother mid-battle, boy kills group men and carries heads back home as prize, men torture each other with variety of cruel devices, man commits suicide in molten metal, slavers beat women with whips, man shoves finger down man’s nasal cavity as torture to extract information, man force feeds prison guard key and gives convicts sword to cut him open for release, woman priestess breaks man’s arm in self-defense, witch stabs woman in gut with metal claws and disfigures another woman’s face, witch is burned by “monk” community, man smashes surrendered man’s head against marble slab, man ties up woman, gags her, calls her like a dog, man catapults messenger, witch poisons boomerang, man feeds human prisoners to water monster, monster bites man in half, man straps woman to sacrificial wheel, cuts her breast open, collects blood in magical mask; strong sexual content includes explicit sex scene between unmarried man and woman, witch incestuously desires father, women offer themselves as sexual prizes to hero, and man and woman kiss passionately; numerous topless wenches offer themselves as sexual prizes to hero, male hero fights shirtless most of the time, bare breasts during fornication, rear male nudity after sex scene; alcohol present during several wild mead parties, drunkenness in background, man spits mead in another’s face to win arm wrestle contest; drug use as old sage apparently smokes opium in giving prophecy; and, boy trips others in order to gain advantage in race, revenge motif, slavery, tattoos.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN is a 2011 remake of the 1982 movie. In this version, Conan witnesses the evil lord Khalar Zym murder his father while searching for pieces of a magical mask to make Zym ruler of the known world. Conan vows revenge. Through a series of extremely violent, disorienting plot points, Conan discovers where Zym is. In locating Zym, Conan helps Tamara, a priestess whom Zym wants to sacrifice with the mask so Zym can bring back his deceased wife. Ultimately, Conan must choose either to fight Zym or lose Tamara. His decision will determine not only his own destiny, but also the fate of the world.
The story to CONAN isn’t great, but it has its exciting moments. However, it’s hard to admire Conan. He sometimes seems crueler than the bad guys. In the end, viewers may wonder if he’s learned anything beyond a few new sword maneuvers. Overall, Movieguide® finds CONAN’s graphic violence and depicted nudity and sex excessive and its humanist, godless, hedonistic, anti-supernatural worldview abhorrent. Though the hero, Conan, fights the occult villains, the occult magic in CONAN THE BARBARIAN is still disturbing and scary.