Jason Momoa replaces Arnold Schwarzenegger in Marcus Nispel’s reboot of this would-be swords-and-sorcery franchise. Nispel — the revisionary behind 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and 2009’s Friday the 13th — thanks to 3-D, throws axes, fireballs and likely everything else including the kitchen sink at audiences.
As a Dungeons & Dragons fanatic from the 1980s, I, of course, have fond memories of the cheesy movies from that period devoted to this niche because not only did they offer a chance to see live action but they also provided the extra-dimensional revelation of naked breasts from behind the fit-to-bursting rawhide and metal tops of the busty female warriors and witches.
Well, the times, they have a ‘changed, so there’s less nudity, but Nispel doesn’t skimp on the bloodletting. His Conan is nothing more than an origin and first adventure, yet, despite the simplicity, the movie captures the otherworldly essence of Robert E. Howard’s pulpy creation, which I discovered thanks to the Marvel Comics series prior to reading Howard’s work.
The problem with this Conan is that it arrives too late to capitalize on the niche from back in the day. Moviegoers today are not D&D geeks or likely to have rosy nostalgia for the Schwarzenegger pics. For all the effort, Conan the Barbarian is just a warrior out of time. Grade: C