'Conan the Barbarian': What the Critics Say

 Simon Varsano

Reviews of the new Conan the Barbarian hit the Web on Tuesday afternoon, and most critics are not impressed.

The movie -- a reboot of the 1980s film franchise that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger -- stars Jason Momoa as the titular Cimmerian warrior.

The new movie finds Conan going into a world where he survives as a thief, pirate and warrior after his father is murdered and the village is destroyed. He then meets the warlord responsible for the destruction of his tribe.

So what are the critics saying?

The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt writes that the film is aimed squarely at video gamers.

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"The filmmakers throw story and character to the wind to send an avatar into a field of continual battle to slay enemies coming from all sides," he writes. "Every rip of his sword sends a fountain of blood into the air and every gouge, punch and back flip comes with amplified sound effects."

He adds that unlike the original, the reboot seems to have no concept or plot, but that it does look good.

"Certainly the look of the film, shot in locations throughout Bulgaria and in Nu Boyana Studios, is dramatic with sweeping landscapes improved digitally to resemble an angry, sensual time in pre-Christian Europe where dark magic rules and brutal warriors kill with impunity," he writes. "But how long can you gaze at a landscape empty of story and character?"

He goes on to add, "There is no purpose to the film other than random blood splattering amid scenes of bondage, primitive savagery and S&M eroticism. The film is numbing and dumb with its hero indistinguishable from its villains. Conan fights under no moral code nor stands for any principle. If the film were called Khalar Zym, he wouldn't even be the good guy."

Meanwhile, other reviewers are just as unimpressed. The Associated Press' Christy Lemire writes that the movie could have been improved by taking a more campy tone.

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"No one ever turns into a giant snake in the new Conan the Barbarian," she opines. "That, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with this remake: The knowing sense of big, ridiculous fun that marked the 1982 original is gone, and in its place we get a self-serious series of generic sword battles and expository conversations."

She adds that the movie is "mind-numbingly convoluted" and has been converted to "a murky, smudgy, barely used 3D."

IndieWire's critic was even less kind, calling the movie "truly, truly awful," saying the cast, action sequences and gore are all "disappointing."

"Let's start with Momoa," the reviewer writes. "We'd had some hope after his turn on Game of Thrones that the actor might at least stand out in the film, forgetting that he only spoke half-a-dozen words of English across 10 episodes. He's fine at the sword-slinging, but delivery of dialogue? Not so much. And the rest of the cast aren't much better."

Stephen Lang, meanwhile, is on "sneering villainous autopilot," Rachel Nichols failes to inject her role with "any personality," and Rose McGowan "horrendously overplay[s] her part."

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But Genevieve Loh of Today Online notes that Momoa made the role his own, complementing him for not trying to copy Schwarzenegger.

But she agrees the movie lacks any sort of story line.

"The plot is threadbare, as you should already expect, so, really, there is no need to break down what is simply almost two hours of testosterone-filled blood, sweat, fight and gore. Oh, and revenge," she writes.

She also gives director Marcus Nispel credit for "deftly deliver[ing] the unrelenting carnage. This is a lowest common denominator violent actioner, paced so fast you won't -- and shouldn't -- have time to breathe or think."

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