New Conan the Barbarian a weak imitation

Call me old school, but I miss Arnie. Oh, Jason Momoa certainly has the pre-requisites to play Conan The Barbarian – steely glare, long flowing locks, a definite vengeance seeker, not overly big on thespian skills and the dude looks like a walking commercial for 24 Hour Fitness.

Jason Momoa's take on the title role in Conan the Barbarian is no match for Arnie.

Jason Momoa's take on the title role in Conan the Barbarian is no match for Arnie.

Call me old school, but I miss Arnie.

Oh, Jason Momoa certainly has the pre-requisites to play Conan The Barbarian – steely glare, long flowing locks, a definite vengeance seeker, not overly big on thespian skills and the dude looks like a walking commercial for 24 Hour Fitness. Fits the bill, I’d say. Yet, there’s just something about that barely decipherable Austrian babble (remember, Schwarzenegger wasn’t on Hollywood soil for all that long when he took on the role in 1982) to go with the ridiculously bulging biceps that gave the character an odd likeability. In the new Conan, Momoa sacrifices charm for killing other dudes in all kinds of horrific ways.

But then, I guess that’s the name of the game in Conan The Barbarian, and man, a bloody game it is. The movie begins — where else? — on a battlefield, where Conan is born — and the blessed event is a bit of a mucky one. Raised by his father (Ron Perlman) to kill or be killed, Conan kills. He kills a lot. He kills often. Especially when Dad gets killed by an evil dude named Zym (Stephen Lang). Conan really, really wants to kill that guy, boy.

From there, there’s a search for some broken mask or something, plus your trademark beauty (Rachel Nichols), a slinky sorceress (Rose McGowan), a lot of killing, etc., etc.

Honestly, I’m surprised a Conan re-boot took this long. I would’ve thought after the success of 300 a few years back — a film that really, really embraced swords and shirtless dudes and hot babes and blood and stuff — that everyone’s favourite barbarian would’ve been back faster than you could say aaaaarghh. Alas, it took the big guy a spell. And, sorry Conan fans, but the wait wasn’t exactly worth it.

Conan The Barbarian isn’t horrid, but it pales to comparison to the Schwarzenegger movie that inspired it. Director Marcus Nispel (who helmed remakes of Friday The 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) is missing a good dose of camp and humour that makes such fare easier to swallow. Oh, and Morgan Freeman as a narrator … Morgan Freeman! That had to be one big killer of a paycheque.

Out of a possible five stars, I’ll give Conan The Barbarian a two. The feature is currently playing at the Pen-Mar Cinema Centre in Penticton.

Jason Armstrong is a movie reviewer living in the Okanagan.