Although the Marcus Nispel directed 2011 film Conan the Barbarian may bear the same as 1982's John Milius directed work, and although they may feature the same character from the Robert E. Howard stories, the new film has little resemblance to the original. In fact, one kind of questions giving the film the same name at all as it implies a remake of the original rather than a rebirth of the franchise and the latter was the intent here, not the former.
Where the original featured a stoic Arnold Schwarzenegger wielding a sword and beating folks up, here Jason Momoa takes on the role of the Cimmerian. Although a large man, Momoa isn't the size of Schwarzenegger, and, the size Schwarzenegger lent to the character, as much as anything about those films, is what remains in the public consciousness. It is therefore a might startling to see Momoa in the lead here, but—again unlike Schwarzenegger in the original—Momoa can act and display emotion on camera, making the character far more three dimensional than the earlier portrayal. In fact, if one were forced to choose the better of the portrayals, Momoa could easily win the contest due, in no small part, to his ability to deliver lines.
The question of whether or not this new film is better than the original though is harder to answer. Certainly, more money was thrown into this film and Nispel's movie is bloody and vaguely disgusting in a way that Milius' is not. From the opening scene in which a young Conan takes out a gang of baddies near his village and returns with their heads in tow, one knows exactly what they're in for from this new Conan. The film relies heavily on Conan's ability to spill blood and revels in the way in which blood flies out of the human body. There are, in short, more than one grimace inducing scenes in the film.
As is quite naturally the case, the story finds Conan going up against an evil man who wants nothing less than to control the entire world (and to bring back his dead wife). Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) has the goal of putting back together a crown made of bone fragments which, when touched by the right blood, will come alive and grant the user exceptional powers… or something like that. The end result of his machinations though will, undoubtedly, result in world domination and only Conan can stop him.