Conan the Barbarian

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Conan the Barbarian Movie Poster Image
Gruesomely violent sword-and-sorcery tale is terrible.
  • R
  • 2011
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Conan is mostly motivated by revenge, and he achieves his goals through violence. Women are treated as objects, and women and children are sometimes the targets of violence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Conan occasionally works with others, but he mostly looks after himself. He's primarily motivated by revenge and uses violence to achieve his goals; he leaves destruction in his wake and doesn't pay any price for that.

Violence

The movie's gruesome violence may be fantasy related, but it's still graphic and bloody, with children and women sometimes the targets. In the first few minutes, a pregnant woman is stabbed in the belly, and viewers see a shot from inside the womb (the sword enters near the baby, and blood begins to fill the womb). There's constant fighting, bashing, burning, stabbing, slicing, whipping, slaying, brain-spattering, and nose-slicing, plus severed heads and limbs, with large amounts of blood. A man is left with a key in his stomach, with the intention that slaves will slice him open to obtain the key to their freedom -- and more.

Sex

Conan rescues several topless slave women and brings them to a tavern to celebrate. Some of them dance on tabletops, and they're on view for long moments. Later, Conan has a full-fledged softcore sex scene. It's softly lit, with frequent dissolves and very little actual nudity, but it's very clear that the couple is having sex (there's thrusting). Afterward, there's a gratuitous shot of Conan's naked behind.

Language

Language is infrequent but includes one use of "s--t." "Hell" is used once, and possibly "whore" (though that word comes during a particularly noisy scene, and it's hard to hear).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

After a victory, Conan and his friend drink heavy amounts of something alcoholic (mead?) from large mugs. They appear spirited but not really drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this extremely violent sword-and-sorcery tale -- which was inspired by Robert E. Howard's 1930s pulp stories, as well as 1970s comic books and two Arnold Schwarzenegger movies from the 1980s -- is in no way a kid-friendly comic book adaptation. There's tons of gruesome blood and gore, including severed heads and body parts, stabbings, bashings, slayings, violence aimed at women and children (including an unborn baby), and many other brutal acts, all of which are even more intense when seen in the movie's 3D version. Conan is motivated by revenge and relies on all of this violence to solve his problems. Women in general are treated like props; several are shown topless for long moments, and there's what amounts to a softcore sex scene. Language is infrequent but includes one use of "s--t," and the heroes drink something alcoholic (mead?) when celebrating.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 13 year old Written byGoodSSJ August 19, 2011

Pretty Good

This Movie Is Not For Ages 0-17,Ok For 18 And Up Only.
Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written byGamecrafter August 24, 2011

CROM! Why have you forsaken me!?

First off, it's pretty much a given that anything under the Conan the Barbarian banner is not for kids. Even in the original written forms, Conan has alwa... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byantoineisthebest August 22, 2011

dissapouinting

I went in the theater excepting a good movie but's bad they put gore were thery should'nt
Kid, 12 years old February 13, 2012

What's the story?

In the Hyborian age of swords and sorcery, Conan is born during a bloody battle. As a boy, his village is slaughtered by the evil Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), whose goal is to collect all the pieces of a powerful mask. Years later, when Conan has grown into a man (Jason Momoa), he seeks his revenge. Meanwhile, Khalar Zym and his sorceress daughter (Rose McGowan) are hunting for a "pureblood," Tamara (Rachel Nichols), whom they need to help them complete a terrifying ritual. Can Conan find and stop the bad guy and rescue the girl before it's too late?

Is it any good?

Directed by Marcus Nispel, this movie (which would be more aptly named Gron-an the Barbarian) is terrible, terrible, terrible. It starts with stale dialogue, which is delivered badly by all the actors. (Momoa tries for a steely gaze, but he winds up with a silly leer.) The lazy, ridiculous story would have been rejected by the pulps. The action sequences are clunky and incomprehensible, not to mention poorly paced, and the 3D effects are like flat images in a pop-up book.

 
That could have been the worst of it -- and indeed, that's plenty to make audiences howl with unintentional laughter -- but Nispel goes even further. He has delivered perhaps the most gruesomely violent movie of the year; it's extreme and horrifying. Last, though hardly least, is the movie's despicable treatment of women as props and women and children as the targets of brutal violence. Even the Schwarzenegger movies were better. Don't be conned by this Conan.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's extreme violence. Is it shocking? Why did the filmmakers choose to go over the top? What makes it more extreme than what you see in other fantasy/action movies?

  • Is Conan a role model? What positive traits does he show? What negative ones? Are viewers intended to admire him?

  • If you've seen earlier Conan movies, how does this one compare? Is it more extreme? Why do you think that is? Is it the filmmaker's decision or a reflection of how culture has changed?

Movie details

For kids who love action and adventure

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