[Retro Review] Conan The Barbarian(1982)

Conan The Barbarian is directed by John Milius and stars Arnold Shwarzenegger, Sandahl Bergman, James Earl Jones, Mako Iwamatsu, and the late Max Von Sydow. The plot revolves around Conan who’s family and people were slaughtered by Thulsa Doom. He is raised a slave but eventually becomes a gladiator and a great warrior. Soon he meets two thieves who aid him in his quest for revenge.

This movie is cheesy 80’s fun to the max. Muscle bound heroes, graphic action, and fun effects. The fight scenes in this movie aren’t the most flashy, but they are graphic and brutal to watch. Heads fly, blood sprays, and all other kinds of violence, the violence originally gave the film an X rating. It’s got pretty fun action that fits the tone best. The special effects are actually pretty decent for the time, sure they haven’t aged very well, but it was the early 80’s. The soundtrack is probably the best part about this movie, it compliments the tone of the movie so well and just matches the fantasy feel so perfectly. The film was directed like an opera which meant emphasis on music and visuals instead of dialogue. The film is very visually pleasing and of course the music is great, so the opera tone does work in a sense.

Now this film is very dumb, with so many elements that don’t work. The dialogue is very weird at points, there are some lines that sound really cool, and others that are just plain ridiculous. The acting is also kind of poor and that’s because a lot of the main cast had no prior acting experience. This was Arnold’s first feature film and of course it’s a big leap from bodybuilder to actor. Thankfully Conan doesn’t talk a whole lot so his odd line delivery isn’t super distracting. Thulsa Doom, apart from James Earl Jones’ performance, is a pretty generic villain. The only other thing that really makes him stand out is his personal connection to Conan.

This movie is a lot of pure early 80’s fun. The cheesiness makes for a good time and there is a lot to unironically like here. The special effects are impressive for the early 80’s and the action is a lot of fun. The music is nothing short of perfection and I could listen to it all day. However the acting and generic villain are part of the reason this movie can put the dumb in dumb fun. This is a great fantasy epic and is a fun guilty pleasure movie, as long as you don’t take it too seriously this bound to be a good time.