Saturday, June 27, 2015

Movie Review: "Conan the Barbarian" (1982)

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Movie"Conan the Barbarian"
Director: John Milius
Year: 1982
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 9 minutes

As a young child, Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) watched his family and all his people slaughtered by the army of a dark sorcerer named Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), who many of his followers believed was a god. Conan became a slave, where he was forced to do havy labor, making him extremely strong. Once an adult, Conan was forced to engage in gladiatorial combat, teaching him to fight. He relished the fighting and after much success, was granted his freedom. Once free, he began his own quest of revenge against Thulsa Doom.

The 80's were big on fantasy adventure sword and sorcery types of films. Movies like "Clash of the Titans," "Dragon Slayer," "Beast Master," and many others thrived, and no matter how low the budget, they covered the decade with their magic and wizardry. "Conan the Barbarian" is one of BigJ's favorites and one of the most memorable of the genre. This movie also features Arnold Schwarzenegger's first real breakthrough role. He had been in other movies before, but this was the one that really got him noticed as an action star. Arnold as the titular character doesn't speak much, and in fact, it's about 20 minutes into the movie before Conan speaks a single word. But, maybe that's a good thing considering how much of an acting rookie Arnold was at the time. This film is not really about strong dialogue, though there are some great lines spoken by James Earl Jones as the villainous Thulsa Doom. Seriously, can you think of a better baddie than James Earl Jones? We're talkin' Darth Vader, here. This film is about the visuals and the action, and it has these in spades. Conan and his companion Subotai, played by Gerry Lopez, and his love interest Valeria, played by Sandahl Bergman, hack their way through Thulsa Doom's army to an epic score written by Basil Poledouris. The film is quite bloody, but be aware, there are a lot of times where people are getting stabbed and it looks less than realistic. Mako narrates the story and plays the wizard that joins Conan's troupe. He acts as a bit of comic relief for the time he is on screen towards the climax of the film. As we mentioned, James Earl Jones plays the main antagonist, the evil sorcerer Thulsa Doom, and apart from Arnie and his glistening pecs and arm muscles, Jones is the next best thing in the movie. His followers treat him as though he is a living god, and we have to say, James Earl Jones fits the part quite well.
Look at that face. Look at that stare. Hell, look at that haircape! This is the face I make when people say they don't like movies. Jones is such a commanding presence, even when he's only on screen for a few seconds at a time, along with a presence that just works for this role. It's a combination of the above hairstyle, his long, ominous looks, and deep, powerful but calm voice. UGH. Could a human being be any more fierce?! This movie definitely feels a little long at times, and can read as much more than a little cheesy, but overall, it is a fun enough ride with some great action and exciting moments.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 72%
Do we recommend this movie:  Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching"A Million Ways to Die in the West"

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