There are three interesting sequences in the film’s 113 minute runtime. The first is when Conan is fighting sandmen, conjured through McGowan’s sorcery, in order to to protect his damsel du jour: Tamara (Rachel Nichols). The other is when he is fighting Zym’s henchmen on board his ship to once again protect his lady. The third and final point of interest is when Conan is battling a many-tentacled creature on his way to, you got it, saving the woman. As you may have twigged repetition is a major theme in this film, which is one of the many reasons why it felt drudging pretty much from start to finish.
The poor attention to detail and superficial relationships made it impossible to care about anyone and the dialogue ranges from poor to diabolical so you couldn’t take any part of it seriously. This might have been okay if, like the original Arnie-vehicle, there were cheap laughs to be had. Well, okay there were a few but not nearly enough to sustain interest and herein lies the major problem with this film: it’s not layered enough to satiate those seeking out a grand narrative and it’s not ironic enough to sustain the attention of bad movie fans. In short: this film isn’t going to satisfy anybody. You know things are bad when you realise you’d rather be watching Prince of Persia, another drearily formulaic film featuring swords in the sands but at least it had Jake Gyllenhaal touting a laughably mockney accent. And the suicidal ostriches were funny too. There are no suicidal birds of any description in Conan the Barbarian and it is the worse for it.
My advice is not to waste your time or money on this film. Conan may be big but he’s not clever, or funny and don’t be fooled by the 3D advertised on the posters: this is no spectacle. A few skulls pop out at you, a few punches are thrown in your direction but you can, honestly speaking, experience that on a night out in Bethnal Green.