OK, this will in no way give any indication of the quality of the new Conan The Barbarian, as compared to the 1982 film. It is just a bit of fun and a chance to enjoy the eye candy!
So lets start things off:-
Arnold Schwarzenegger (CtB:1982)
To the general public Arnie “is” Conan, however he is far from Howard’s vision. Admitted he wasn’t bad in CtB. Even though he was still probably over built, he didn’t look as though he had just come from a 3 hour workout before every scene (as opposed to “ The Destroyer” where he was so ripped he looked ridiculous). His costumes in CtB were more conservative too, i.e. for most of the film he wore far more than just a loincloth, which to my mind certainly helped the believability…
Jason Momoa (CtB:2011)
As far as fitting in with Howard’s vision, things are possibly a little closer to the original, Momoa certainlly seems to have dark and broody look in the publicity stills. I haven’t seen a loincloth yet either which is a positive thing as far as I can see.
The only thing that has really stirred things up in REH fandom so far on the Momoa front is his lack of blue eyes. I don’t really have strong views when it come to movie adaptions of books, I expect large diversions from the original piece, so on one level the lack of blue eyes doesn't really bother me. However, I do think that it could have, so easily, been rectified with a pair of blue contact lenses, or even digitally in post production, that it is a shame they didn’t do it.
The “Big Bad Guy”
James Earl Jones (CtB:1982)
What can be said about Jones in CtB, other than he had the best lines in the movie (fairly hammy lines admitted – this is a sword and sorcery movie what do you expect). He dominated every scene he was in and he certainly raised the whole drama of the movie.
Stephen Lang (CtB:2011)
Not much to say on this yet as we only really have one photo of Lang in costume. Looks OK! Lang has done some good work in the past, most recently of course with Avatar. He is not know for period pieces or costume dramas, so it is difficult to judge how he will do in the new film.
The “Love Interest”
Sandahl Bergman (CtB:1982)
Sandahl Bergman’s Valeria in the 1982 film was another inspired choice, she clearly had charisma and a good rapport with Arnold. The choice of a dancer was a good one as she moved very well in the fight scenes, and pulled off the part of a “queen of thieves” very well.
I have not been particularly aware of Rachel Nicholls in anything. She was apparently in the recent Star Trek movie, and also GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra, both of which I have seen. Neither registered on my radar, although I am assuming her part in GI Joe must have included a fair bit of action, so she should be able to cope with the fight scenes.
The Evil Sorceress
This is a tricky comparison as the character in the 1982 movie was basically a minor supporting role but the 2011 character appears to be one of the main antagonists.
Cassandra Gava’s Wolf Witch, from the 1982 movie, is one of the more memorable minor characters that usually raises a smile with audiences. Certainly a very sexy character with a dark side that Arnold’s Conan experiences at first hand.
I have no idea how important McGowan’s role will be in the new movie, but it seems it may be one of the lead roles. There is no doubt that McGowan has a screen presence, but there is nothing yet that can be said about her role in the new Conan movie as we don’t even have any photos to work with!
The only really interesting point to add is, of course, that McGowan’s next movie will be Red Sonja, the movie based on the Marvel comics character that was also inspired by an REH character.
Not comparing like for like, just a feel for some of the high points from each cast.
Max Von Sydow (CtB:1982)
Not lot to say here, a superb actor who has appeared in more of my favourite films than I can remember, off the top of my head The Ultimate Warrior, The Quiller Memorandum, Dune and of course the recent REH movie Solomon Kane, to name but four. I was actually surprised he didn’t get a part in the new Conan movie, as he seems to turn up in just about everything!
Ron Perlman (CtB:2011)
Another genre stalwart. Everything from Hellboy, Alien:Resurrection, Highlander (the TV show) to Outlander. HE currently has two sword and sorcery movies heading for release, Conan and also Scorpion King: Rise of the Dead (which I hadn’t heard about until I was reseaching this article). Playing Conan’s father suggests that it will be a small role in the Conan movie, but any movie with Perlman in is improved by his presence!
Not the most canonical aspect of the 1982 movie, having Conan team up with a wizard (Howard’s Conan always loathed magic), however Mako’s performance was a pleasure to watch, and I certainly enjoyed his part in the film.
That about wraps up my comparison of the actors in the two versions of Conan The Barbarian. I will come back to this subject as more of the new film becomes evident. Clearly there are going to be more areas that are open to comparison. These two photos suggest there will be a comparable “drinking scene” for a start:-
As for other aspects of the two movies. It will be difficult for the new movie to in anyway match the majestic soundtrack that Basil Poledouris created for the 1982 movie, surely one of the most over looked soundtracks of all time.
Also the it will be difficult for the new film to match the gorgeous cinematography and the overall design of the first movie. Both of which stood out for their pure class beauty.
Please let me know what you think, and also point out any other areas of comparison.