Geoff Cox’s guide to the new DVD releases

THERE’S much more blood but definitely less humour in the update for sword-and-sorcery hero CONAN THE BARBARIAN (15: Lionsgate).

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 15th December 2011, 2:45 am

TV actor Jason Momoa steps into the sandals worn by Arnie Schwarzenegger in the 1982 fantasy adventure.

Yet few elements from the world of writer Robert E. Howard’s novelettes are in evidence in a plot which sees Conan seeking revenge against Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), the evil warlord who killed his noble father Corin (Ron ‘Hellboy’ Perlman) and set his village on fire.

The tyrant is close to acquiring all the pieces of the magic mask, which will make him all-powerful.

Along the way, there are loyalties to earn, women to smooch and battles to fight, all in a televisual rather than cinematic style.

Low-quality entertainment with only surface polish, the thrills and spills rely on streams of blood and bucket-loads of gore, including a particularly nasty bout that results in a severed nose.

Lang and Rose McGowan (Zym’s daughter Marique) are deliciously sinister without being completely callous.

Momoa, previously seen in Stargate: Atlantis, lacks Schwarzenegger’s charisma, leaving it to Perlman to steal the show.

> While not as hilarious as the wildly successful 2009 comedy, the hapless trio involved are still funny in THE HANGOVER: PART II (15: Warner), even when they’re sober.

The sequel takes us on a trip that’s even more “far out” than the first.

Phil, Alan and Stu (Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms) reunite for a stag weekend in Bangkok – a menacing backdrop compared to glitzy Las Vegas.

Having learned the lessons of their previous misadventures, they resolve to keep this one quiet and alcohol-free, but things inevitably don’t go according to plan.

They wake up after a wild night they can’t remember minus one of their party – Teddy (Mason Lee) – the brother of Stu’s bride-to-be, whose severed finger offers the only clue as to what happened.

The lads trawl the mean streets to find him, but the mystery is less compelling than the one surrounding the first movie.

Director/co-writer Todd Phillips seems content to retrace steps from the original and refresh old jokes, such as Stu falling foul of another stripper.

Galifianakis is as goofy as ever and Cooper as nonchalant, and it’s the less flashy Helms who holds it all together.

> Jim Carrey’s mucking around with animals act was seen to great effect in his breakthrough role as Ace Ventura.

So there’s a feeling that we’ve seen it all before with MR POPPER’S PENGUINS (PG: Twentieth Century Fox), pictured right, standard family fare that will keep children happy without really making a lasting impression.

There are high jinks in Manhattan when workaholic real-estate developer Carrey inherits half-a-dozen penguins from his explorer father.

After his initial bewilderment and failure to offload his unwanted cargo on a zoo because his kids love them, Popper forms a bond with the birds and ets about turning his posh apartment into a winter wonderland, learning lessons about family and friendship along the way.

The 1930s children’s book has been given a flashy modern-day overhaul to make full use of Carrey’s manic personality and a lively pace is maintained.

The undeniably cute penguins are at the heart of the action in an enjoyable if forgettable film.