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Conan the Barbarian

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for strong bloody violence, some sexuality and nudity.

Reviewed by: Pamela Karpelenia

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Action Adventure Fantasy 3D Remake
1 hr. 52 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 19, 2011 (wide—2,900+ theaters)
DVD: November 22, 2011
Copyright, Lionsgate click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lionsgate

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

“VOTING” FOR BAD MOVIES—Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer


war in the Bible

What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer





horse and horseman

Sin and revenge


depravity of man




justice of God

the final judgment


What is the Occult? Answer

THE OCCULT—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

witches in the Bible




Featuring: Jason Momoa … Conan—“Stargate: Atlantis” (TV series), “Baywatch” (TV)
Rachel Nichols … Tamara
Stephen Lang … Khalar Zym
Rose McGowan … Marique
Saïd Taghmaoui … Ela-Shan
Ron PerlmanCorin
See all »
Director: Marcus Nispel—‘Friday the 13th’ (2009), ‘Pathfinder’ (2007), ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (2003)”
Producer: Nu Image Films
Millennium Films
Paradox Entertainment
See all »
Distributor: Lionsgate

“I want your head!”

Conan the Barbarian DVD cover“Conan the Barbarian” tells of a man Conan (Jason Momoa) that goes on a bloody pursuit of the man who responsible for his father’s death. Having never seen the original “Conan…,” I was merely intrigued by the trailer, and that freed me from comparison woes. The film begins with a violent battle scene where Conan’s mother is slain while pregnant. She gives birth to a boy and with her dying breathe names him Conan. This gritty opening scene sets the stage for a very gritty and ruinous picture.

The acting is lacking, with little dialogue between characters, and, of that dialogue, almost none is good or worth repeating. However, one line does stand out. It went something like “We may be barbarians, but we don’t kill babies like other ‘civilized’ nations.” The way that line is phrased stuck out for obvious reasons. Not one acting performance stands out as great, but all seem to play their parts fine.

Content of concern

Number one is the violence; there is so much killing and bloody violence, it is nauseating. Second is the sorcery and paganism—very present and disturbing. The antagonist makes use of witchcraft, sorcery other pagan practices, in order to achieve great dark powers—a theme that runs rampant throughout the film. Third is the nudity and sexuality; there is quite a bit of bare breasted women, and there is one graphic sex scene. Language is minor to none; there’s what sounds like 1 use of the “s” word.

While watching one man’s quest for revenge and another man’s quest for power, two verses came to mind.

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord” —Romans 12:19.

When wronged, it is in our sin nature to seek vengeance, but the Bible commands us not to and reminds us that God will repay all wrong doing. The other verse is concerning pagans and witchcraft,

“When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire [an ancient occult practice], or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination [detestable] to the LORD…” —Deuteronomy 18:9-12a.

After being wronged or losing someone we love, grief can lead people, even Christians, to be tempted to seek out other sources for answers, but it will only lead us into bondage, darkness and sin.

Overall, I do not recommend “Conan…,” it feels like a mish mash of “Prince of Persia” and “300”, but not as good. While the costumes and makeup are quite believable, the film is sometimes choppy and incoherent. Plus, when you add in the overt violence and nudity, it all adds to a skip it.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I have seen the movie, twice (without my children); in 2D and 3D. Having long been a fan of R. E. Howard’s books, and having at one time owned the entire run of Savage Sword of Conan comic books; I thought why not put in a good word for this film? I found it surprisingly better than the 1982 John Milius version in all respects save the music. Jason Momoa was well cast as Conan, much more believable as a swordsman than Arnold Schwartzenegger was in the 1982 version.

Stephen Lang was great as the warlord Khalar Zym (he was the heart and soul of Avatar!) The Caesarian delivery on the battlefield was a bit confronting, but that is how R.E. Howard wrote the story. I found the relationship between Conan and his father, especially Ron Perlman acting during Corin’s death scene to be emotionally powerful. This made the revenge storyline much more believable than in the 1982 version. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Thomas Fischer, age 56 (Australia)
Negative—I grew up on Conan. Read Robert Howard’s work when very young. Even today, I still enjoy reading his works and in the area of pulp fiction, his work stands out. However, this movie is something else. I watched it in 3-D. Do not waste your money to see this movie, especially in 3-D. 3-D is over hyped, and it is not worth the extra you pay. Probably the best scenes in 3-D were the notices and special scenes telling you the movie was in 3-D.

When watching the movie there were several things that stood out. Violence was rampant, with blood everywhere, and people being killed in all sorts of ways. The sex scene was very blatant. There was no effort to hide it. It was very explicit. The other was the amount of sorcery present. It also was very blatant. There was frontal nudity present in several scenes, along with some other gruesome actions.

The monster in the jail sequence towards the end left me with the impression of something not even real. The characters didn’t have the development, as the previous Conan movies, though there were some rare jewels in the movie (Conan’s father being one.) The characters, as the reviewer mentioned, were a bit wooden with no real development taking place.

I strongly advise people (as this is an R-rated movie) to not take your kids to see it. There was very little crude language in the movie, but the violence, the nudity and the sex scene made the language issue moot. In many ways, I was disappointed in the movie. They could have reduced the amount of violence (not made it as explicit), totally removed the sex scene (which left absolutely nothing to the imagination), reduced the amount of sorcery and replacing the actors and actresses, they probably would have had a decent movie. Don’t waste your money.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
David C Quin, age 61 (USA)
Negative—This was a VERY strong “R,” if not an “X” rated movie. For my husband and me, this movie did not resemble, build on or improve on the Conan we grew up with. We found the story telling erratic and the visual images extremely offensive. Much of the interaction between the father/daughter villain characters made our skin crawl. It really came across as emotionally incestuous. Ultimately, we struggled to understand the intent (message) behind the movie. We did go to see it before there were any reviews-and both agree, we learned our lesson, to wait for reviews by “Like-Minded Believers” in the future.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
Mlb, age 45 (USA)
Negative—Here’s the thing about this movie; it’s not good in any way. I mean, I don’t mind violence, but this violence wasn’t even good. By good, I mean it wasn’t realistic, which I suppose doesn’t make violence good, but Conan reminded me of “Power Rangers” with blood. And the blood; I would call it more of splashing kool-aid than blood. For some reason, …blood shoots out of any part of the body when it is hit in any way. It’s cheesy garbage. Moreover, besides the lack of coherent violence, everything else was poorly done. This isn’t even a “maybe I’ll see how it is movie.” That’s what I said going in, and I couldn’t finish it. Seriously, “Power Rangers” with blood.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
Kev, age 29 (Canada)
Movie Critics
“…Hungry for gore? This remake’s for you… In the modern blockbuster, then, the spectacle may be lavish but the arithmetic is dead simple: 1-syllable dialogue + 2-much action + 3D = big weekend grosses. … [1½/4]”
Rick Groen, The Globe and Mail
“…the well-executed pic solves the biggest challenge facing those hoping to breathe new life—however nasty, brutish and short—into the 79-year-old franchise by finding an actor capable of filling Ah-nuld’s shoes, all of which portends brawny international biz, with sequels to follow. …”
Peter Debruge, Variety
“…The film, tarted up with 3-D and introduced in voice-over by an understandably uncredited Morgan Freeman, is partly an origin story and partly proto-mythopoetic men’s movement gibberish involving good versus evil, the usual swords, sorcery and flagrantly bulgy masculinity. … some wit and surprisingly O.K. performances…”
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“…here’s a movie that’s simultaneously lavishly violent and numbing, visually ornate and undistinguished, epic and shallow, relentlessly noisy and tone-deaf, workmanlike and unfilling. … [C]”
Lisa Schwarzbaumm, Entertainment Weekly
“…Take away much of the myth, most of the sorcery and all of the humor of the 1982 John Milius-Arnold Schwarzenegger version of the sword and sorcery epic ‘Conan the Barbarian,’ and you’ve got an idea what the new ‘Conan…’ is like.”
Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
“…Neutering a character who was known for his brutishness. …‘Conan…” was directed by Marcus Nispel, who specializes in slick, unremarkable remakes of hit movies (‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ ‘Friday the 13th’). Nispel is a good shooter and knows how to frame a memorable image, but he has no sense of storytelling or narrative: one thing just leads to another. …[1/4]”
Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald
“…Three entire dimensions of lousy. … this movie does everything wrong. … It takes a lot for a ‘Conan the Barbarian’ movie to be flat-out idiotic, when you consider how low the bar is set already. …”
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
“…more brawn than brains… At least Nispel understands the key appeal of author Robert E. Howard’s Cimmerian warrior: that every red-blooded boy yearns to wallow in someone else’s blood and guts and possess any number of half-naked slave girls. …[C+]”
James Verniere, The Boston Herald

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