Conan The Barbarian
Direction: Marcus Nispel
Actors: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols
As with almost any remake, the new take on Conan the Barbarian reconfirms our belief that there’s no point in revamping successful oldies. The original, released back in 1982, established Arnold Schwarzenegger as a star and is still regarded with a considerable amount of nostalgia. Despite a glossier sheen, the mega-budget makeover merely leaves us grief-stricken.
Not only is the direction by Nispel (guilty also of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th updates) undistinguished but even the by-rote action lacks throb and tension.
The story, derived from the pulp fantasies of Robert E Howard, is reduced to an exercise in gobbledygook. A portentous prologue features the birth of the barbarian boy. In a scene that’s as outrageous as it is repellent, the future warrior is ripped from the womb of his dying mother as a battle rages in the background.
Unapologetically violent, the goings-on are aimed at titillating the viewer’s basest instincts for gore. Sword-slinging, punch-ups, disembowelments and bludgeoning are thrown into the narrative cauldron.
Taking over the role originated by Arnie, model-turned-television heartthrob Jason Momoa is as expressionless as his predecessor. And like him he provides plenty of torso-ogling opportunities. Displaying brute aggression, the eponymous muscle-bound hero is determined to wreak vengeance on the warlord (Stephen Lang) who killed his parents and destroyed their village.
Conan also confronts an evil sorceress (are there any other kind?), hordes of baddies conjured, a la The Mummy, out of sand, not to forget a tentacled underwater monster.
In the midst of the carnage, the super-hunk also finds time to woo a virginal lady monk (Nichols, lifeless).
Unless you are sucker for brain-numbing savagery, this sword-and-sorcery spectacle can be safely skipped.