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Who ordered the Soulful Barbarian?

"I live. I love. I slay. I am content," says Conan T. Barbarian (Jason Momoa), just before he obliges the camera's demands for more skin with some golden-lit, late night cable lovemaking on a hay-covered slab of rock with female monk/warrior/etc .Rachel Nichols.

Except he's lying; or at least the movie is. Because there's nothing content about this guy at all. He's not just on a mission of murder, he's on a mission of personality completion. And you know what Conan isn't supposed to be? That's right, full of introspective self-regard.

Conan--at least as the character was somewhat-acted by Arnold Schwarzenegger almost 30 years ago and written in pulp fiction and comic books even before that--is a badass. He's into crushing skulls and grunting and brutalizing whatever gets in his way and wearing a fur bikini. He gets it done.

Well, now Conan is on a mission of sword-understanding. You read that correctly. He's got this big sword, hand-forged by his father (a dreadlock-bearded Ron Perlman). He's also got a case of the bloodthirsties; this kid was born via gnarly c-section on a battlefield, after all, and he skillfully brings home decapitated heads as teenage test-of-manliness trophies. But that's not what's really important to Dad. Dad wants a thoughtful marauder. So he gives him the sword and says, "Before you can wield it, you must first understand it."


I didn't ask for a Conan who needed to think deep thoughts about the complex issues related to barbarianism before he could obtain true barbarian status. I'm not interested in this dude's soul or the makeup of his inner life. I want there to be killing, a full 110 minutes of sick violence and goofy dialogue. I want the slaying stakes stacked high like a Jenga tower.

Of course, it's not all a sensitive male therapy session. You do get a lot of chopped heads and sword impalements, a great nose-capitation, Rose McGowan as a bizarro witch-lady with an extra large tattooed forehead and Freddy Krueger fingers, some hilariously pouty male model poses from Jason Momoa and a few handfuls of gross enemies for Conan to hack to pieces while he embarks on his details-unimportant quest of idiot vengeance.

It's almost enough. And as long as you skip the certain-to-be-muddy 3D version (I did) and go straight to the cheaper ticket and brighter screen option, you'll have a medium amount of murder-fun. If you want more than that, just rent Valhalla Rising instead.


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