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Conan the Barbarian Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 10

    out of 100

    Time Richard Schickel

    Conan is a sort of psychopathic Star Wars, stupid and stupefying.

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  • 30

    out of 100

    The New York Times Vincent Canby

    Conan the Barbarian is an extremely long, frequently incoherent, ineptly staged adventure-fantasy set in a prehistoric past.

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  • 40

    out of 100


    Director John Milius does a nice job of setting up the initial story.... But for whatever reasons, [Schwarzenegger] has a minimum of dialog and fails to convey much about the character through his actions.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Those who have an inherent distaste for this sort of entertainment will appreciate Conan the Barbarian's impeccable production values without enjoying the story; most everyone else will be swept away by the film's spectacle.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    I liked a lot of it myself, and with me, a few broadswords and leather jerkins go a long way.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Raunchier and bloodier than you remember.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that -- even though Conan is a star in his own long-running series of Marvel Comics books -- there's R-level sex and bloodshed in the form of sword impalings, torture, dog attacks, bloody axings, and gladiatorial beat-downs (even of animals). There's female nudity, too, as a young, enslaved Conan is "bred" with unwilling females like cattle and enjoys a very physical relationship with his love interest, a beautiful thief. Not that most viewers will notice amidst the hard-R content, but the movie also contains some anti-religious themes.

  • Families can talk about the character of Conan, and what makes him ostensibly a good guy in this violent, brutish landscape. Also, why do you think that this incarnation of Conan is clearly made for adults and not for the ages who enjoyed the comic book series? Do you think this would be a compelling story without the hard-R content? Were you aware of some of the anti-religious themes (specifically a quote from Nietzsche), and why do you think they were included in a movie like this one?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Conan is more "heroic" than just about every character on view in that he isn't wantonly cruel. Still, he's revenge-driven and merciless in battle. His companions and friends are thieves and outcast wizards. The barbaric time-period is multicultural, with most colors, races, and genders in the fighting (though women tend to be gorgeous, thin, and half-naked, as a rule).

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Bloody sword impalings, a crucifixion, a dog attack, body parts in a cannibalistic stew, and bloody beheadings, including one of the child Conan's mother. Conan punches out a camel, not a great moment for animal rights onscreen, and dismembers a monster snake.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Sex and partial nudity. Topless and nearly naked slave girls and tavern wenches, entwined in palace orgies, sacrificed to cults and tossed to Conan to procreate (and he cooperates). Conan has softcore sex with his lover Valeria, and there are strong overtures of homosexuality in a character of a cult priest.

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: A line of Conan comic books and paperback novelizations, before and after this feature, hacked their savage trail through the marketplace.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Conan and his lover get notably drunk.