Director: John Milius

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sandahl Bergman, James Earl Jones

Year: 1982

In the swords&sorcery genre, Conan is King, or at least one of the kings, hitting all the wonderful, wacky, oh-so-80s plot points and cheesy checkpoints.  It’s also where Arnold got his big break, in a role that was so perfect for him, and which launched his career.  So many reasons to rewatch right there, and that’s before perhaps the most surprising part; Conan the Barbarian is somehow also a good movie, full of memorable music, wild drama, and high adventure.

As a boy, Conan was taught to honor the Earth, the gods, and the steel of the sword, to live a simple life in honor.  When her parents were killed in a raid, he was taken prisoner, and forced to work a mill wheel until he grew strong or died.  But Conan grew massive, became a gladiator, earned his freedom, and took to the wide world, searching for the evil snake lord who killed his people and destroyed his former life.  Meeting others along the way, Conan will build a team of might heroes and cunning thieves, on his way to glory and revenge.

It had been a while since I watched this; I had forgotten just how incredibly fun it is.  Swordplay, heads chopped off, giant snakes, wine & women & wizards & weaponry; everything you could ask for out of this often-silly drama.  But that’s just it; Conan isn’t that silly, it’s rather good, with excellent music, few lines, a cool story, and fights around every corner.  This is what the style is supposed to look like, this is the gold standard, and it shouldn’t be dismissed as just another bludgeoning blunder.  It’s more that that, it’s actually a well-made film; who’da believed it?

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


By ochippie

Writer, Critic, Dad Columbus, Ohio, USA Denver Broncos, St. Louis Cardinals Colorado Avalanche, Duke Blue Devils