Complete A-Z list

Conan the Barbarian


Stars: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Said Taghmaoul, Ron Perlman, Leo Howard, Steve O'Donnell, Raad Rawi, Nonso Anozie, Bob Sapp, Milton Welch

Director: Marcus Nispel

Once upon a time long, long ago (1982, actually) Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger rippled his mighty muscles in a loincloth, found stardom playing a brutal warrior given to slaying mere mortals in Conan the Barbarian and ended up as Governor of California.

Now it’s the turn of Hawaiian-born Momoa to leap from the small screen and Game of Thrones and demonstrate his worked-out pecs appeal in an extremely noisy, mindless remake which, given the star who is patently a lot better in action than acting, sensibly settles for thrills, blood, brutality and general slicing and dicing in favour of a holding narrative. Dialogue (“I’m not your mother. But you will be”) appears not to be a prime consideration of director Nispel of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and ‘Friday the 13th’ infamy who – sensibly – allows the thunderous score and noisy smash and slash outbursts to drown out the hardly holding speeches.

For the record, the plot sees Momoa, 'a child born of battle’ (played by Howard as a youngster) able to present his father (Perlman in full 'Sons of Anarchy' mode) with three severed heads and an unbroken egg when sent out to vie for the chance to be a warrior) seeking revenge for the murder of his father by evil lord Lang who is keen to reintegrate a shattered mask that will make him invincible. Happily you can ignore the storyline and simply settle for near-non-stop action and visceral thrills which include Momoa taking on Lang’s daughter McGowan – splendidly over the top with a shaven forehead high enough to edit a broadsheet newspaper culture section – who puts the sauce into sorceress. Love interest is supplied by Nichols who, somewhat improbably, plays a female monk.

Whenever the plotting palls, Nispel ladles out more and more action, a posse of topless female slaves, and faces Momoa with hordes of human adversaries, along with a giant, apparently headless, octopoid creature and a brigade of Sad Soldiers whom Our Musclebound Hero, appropriately, dispatches from dust to dust. In summary - brutal, bloody and unlikely to involve switching on your mind.

Momoa, unlike Arnie, is less likely to become a star. But who knows? Perhaps he’ll end up as Governor of Hawaii.

Alan Frank

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour by deluxe.
112 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 24 Aug 2011