GENRE: Swords, sorcery and CGI
THE PITCH: In ye olde Hyborian Age, pumped-up warrior Conan ("Game of Thrones'" Jason Momoa) seeks revenge against "shadow lord" Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), who plots to conquer the world with a magic mask and the sacrifice of a beautiful monk named Tamara (Rachel Nichols).
MONEY SHOTS: In extended prologue, young Conan (Leo Howard) single-handedly kills four Mohican-looking attackers. Khalar travels overland on a battleship carried by elephants and pulled by slaves. Conan knocks down a horse and rider with a giant chain. Conan uses a catapult on one of Khalar's lieutenants. Khalar's witch-daughter (Rose McGowan) summons sand-men to attack Conan.
BEST LINE: As a kid, Conan cut the nose off one of Khalar's henchmen, who declares "Oh! My nose!" in an unexpected "Brady Bunch" reference. When the hugely grown-up Conan tracks the guy down, the Barbarian says, "Remember me? I'm the one who made you pretty."
WORST LINE: Any of the narration, with lines like "So came the Hyborian Age a time both bleak and brutal," which sound even more out of place spoken by Morgan Freeman.
CONAN CREDO: "I live, I love, I slay, I am content," declares Conan, which isn't nearly as memorable as Arnold Schwarzenegger's declaration in the 1982 film that the best thing in life is "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women."
MEMORABLE KILLS: Young Conan uses an attacker as a human shield against a volley of arrows. Adult Conan rolls boulders down on slavers, flattening one of them. An airborne bad guy crashes into a rock and leaves a bloody smear.
FLESH FACTOR: Early in the film adult Conan and some buddies liberate a slaver's camp, including a bunch of topless women who promptly party with them. Conan shows a glimpse of his barbarian butt late in the film.
FASHION STATEMENTS: Conan's native Cimmerians wear furs that resemble sheepskin seat covers, and that includes the beard of Ron Perlman as Conan's father. Khalar conquers tribespeople and puts them to work, so the film features attacking hordes that seem to combine ancient Romans, Mongols and Maori warriors. Tamara lives in a monastery where the women seem to wear veiled TV trays on their heads. McGowan slashes her victims with Freddy Krueger-style metal claws.
CLASH OF THE ACTING STYLES: McGowan hisses and totally camps it up as Khalar's blood-tasting, metal-claw-wearing, quasi-incestuous daughter, but Nichols behaves like she just stepped out of a brunch restaurant in a contemporary romantic comedy.
BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL? No. John Milius' 1982 adaptation of Robert E. Howard's pulp stories, however ponderous and self-important, was still a personal, visually memorable film that, for better or worse, made a movie star out of body builder Schwarzenegger. In the new one, director Marcus Nispel fails to work around Momoa's considerable physical presence.
THE BOTTOM LINE: For about an hour, you can have fun with Conan the Barbarian as a "good-bad movie" by reveling in the violence, over-the-top behavior, unintelligible dialogue and imaginative production design. After nearly two hours, the lousy writing, incoherent action scenes and fantasy epic clichés will crush your spirits. Hear the lamentations of the Robert E. Howard fans.
I can see Rushdie's stuff adapting well. Lots of plot to play with.