The 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger-powered “Conan the Barbarian” spawned a cult following and a popular cartoon, but the remake will be lucky to find half as many fans.
When Conan (Jason Momoa) seeks revenge against Khaler Zym (Stephen Lang) for the slaughter of his father (Ron Perlman) and entire village during his childhood, he must travel across the make-believe continent of Hyboria. Along the way, he meets Tamara (Rachel Nichols), a girl whose blood is needed to raise Zym’s wife from the dead and conquer the continent.
A key problem in the film is Conan’s travel across Hyboria. The movie switches quickly from one location to another, making it hard to keep up and remember why he is on a journey in the first place.
The acting is too fluffy for the gravity of the situations the characters face, with only two actors giving a performance worth remembering. Unfortunately, these actors have smaller supporting roles.
Leo Howard, who plays a young Conan, is surprisingly fierce for a 14-year-old,and brings a severity of character that does not transfer to Momoa’s rendition of the older Conan.
Similarly, Rose McGowan’s rendition of Zym’s mystical daughter Marique — a step away from characters such as Paige Matthews on the popular show “Charmed” — is frightening and surprising in her intensity. She leaves the audience gaping at her change from friendly witch to terrifying sorceress.
Despite high hopes for Mamoa’s ability to act as a complex-minded warrior, based on his performance as Khal Drogo in the show “Game of Thrones,” he comes off as a little too brutish with few endearing qualities. Because of Conan’s ruthlessness, it’s often hard to pity him and understand his reasons for seeking revenge.
Director Marcus Nispel’s tendency to direct gory films like 2003’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is clearly continued in “Conan .”
From the opening sequence of Conan’s birth via an on-battlefield C-section, Nispel’s graphic scenes pervade the rest of the film. This primeval quality makes “Conan” anything but a thrill to watch.
Ultimately, “Conan” is exactly what modern culture associates with barbarism: underdeveloped, nonsensical and crude.
“Conan the Barbarian” was written by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood and directed by Marcus Nispel.