Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: Conan the Barbarian (1982)

There are only a handful of movies that I enjoy as much as Conan the Barbarian.  I'm a fan of Arnold, I'm a fan of action movies, and I'm a big fan of Robert E. Howard's mighty Cimmerian, so this shouldn't be breaking news.  Yet I think that anyone who enjoys an entertaining and energetic film should be able enjoy this smash hit from 1982 whether they have an interest in any of those things or not.  Expertly directed by John Milius, well-scripted, and bolstered by some truly fabulous sets, this is a remarkable motion picture.  Yes, there are some considerable alterations to Howard's vision, but many of these changes benefit the movie and none of them detract from it.  I have been a fan of this character for a great many years, and in my personal opinion, the differences that spring up in his adventures on the big screen, the printed page, and within the realm of comics have seldom diminished his charisma.  Conan is such a rich creation that it's difficult to modify him to such an extent that he loses his luster, though later film efforts would succeed in doing just that.  This stellar Schwarzenegger vessel is a real winner that may be the finest action yarn depicting a quest for vengeance that has ever been produced.  The cast is magnificent and the action sequences are rousing, realistic, and impressive to behold--a daunting trifecta, to say the least.  The plot is well-constructed and seldom has such an intriguing character been so free to roam.  The poster doesn't lie, for we see Conan enslaved as a child, forced to become a pitfighter when he comes of age, and he later earns his keep as a thief before emerging as the warrior he is destined to become.  Unlike many of the pictures that populate such fantastic realms, Conan the Barbarian isn't a whimsical effects show but rather a dark and gritty saga ripe with brutality and dismay.  The score courtesy of Basil Poledouris is a vibrant masterpiece that only adds to the movie's incredible power.  In fact, it may be my favorite score ever, and it's surely my favorite score by anyone other than John Carpenter.  Director John Milius is a woefully underrated figure in the motion picture industry and Conan the Barbarian is surely his greatest achievement.  I'm gushing a bit and I know it, but I just don't know how else to put it: if you truly want to know what is best in life, you must watch this movie.

Final Grade: A+ (it's better than Stygian Black Lotus)
As Conan, Arnold delivers perhaps the best prayer of all time.
Conan's Prayer
Crom, I have never prayed to you before.  I have no tongue for it. 
No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad, why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many.  That's what's important.
Valor pleases you, Crom, so grant me one request.  Grant me revenge.
And if you do not listen?  Then to hell with you! 

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