The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Universal - 1982
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 129 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, French
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Sandahl Bergman, Gerry Lopez Ben Davidson, Cassandra Gaviloa, Mako, Valerie Quennessen, William Smith, Max Von Sydow
Directed by: John Milius
Music by: Basil Poledouris
Written by: John Milius & Oliver Stone
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 2, 2011
"The Warrior Gladiator King"
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in the original action-packed epic adventure Conan the Barbarian. Following his parents' savage murder, young Conan (Schwarzenegger) is captured by the cold-blooded Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) and spends the next fifteen years enslaved. Unwilling to all his brutal fate to conquer him, Conan builds an incomparable body and an indomitable spiritboth of which he needs when he suddenly finds himself a free man. Aided by his new found companions, Subotai the Mongol and Valeria, Queen of Thieves, Conan sets out to finally take revenge on the warlord who killed his family.
Through the history of mankind, the times that are most recorded in mythology and song are those of the great deeds and fantastic adventures. Such a time was the Hyborean Age. Such a tale is the story of "Conan The Barbarian."
Cimmeran Conan is captured as a child after his parents' savage murder by raiding Vanir led by Thulsa Doom, head of the snake-cult of Set. After fifteen years of agony, first chained to the Wheel OF Pain grinding grain and then enslaved as a pit fighter, Conan forges a powerful body and indomitable spirit. Miraculously freed one day by his owner, Conan, along with his trusted companion Suboti the Mongol and new found love, Valeria, Queen of Thieves, sets forth upon his quest to learn "the riddle of steel" which, his father has prophesied, will confer ultimate power; and to kill the arch-villian Thulsa Doom.
I used to love watching the 80's sword and sorcery films on cable TV back in the day. I don't recall whether I knew who Arnold Schwarzenegger was prior to seeing Conan The Barbarian but I remember liking him and this film right from the start. It featured a blend of known acting talent, new faces (playing the primary three characters) and a decent story that hit the genre high points. Watching it today Conan is noticeably dated, but it still manages to resonate thanks to a simple but well crafted narrative that contains timeless elements of redemption, adventure, devotion and brutal action melded with nostalgia inducing fantasy, special effects and requisite adult content. I absolutely love Basil Poledouris' music score. I was an avid weightlifter back then and we used to work out to a mix of music that included Anvil of Crom. Conan The Barbarian is far from award winning cinema but I thoroughly enjoy it for what it is. It was followed up by a sequel, Conan The Destroyer, but that failed to live up to this one. I have never considered Arnold Schwarzenegger to be a quality actor but like others in his class he found a way to play to his strengths with this film serving as the catalyst that spring boarded him to stardom in Hollywood. I thoroughly enjoyed this revisit and am happy to add Conan The Barbarian to my Blu-ray collection.
The rating is for violence, sexual content, nudity and disturbing images.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Conan The Barbarian comes to Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.2 Mbps.
This newly re-mastered presentation features an uneven and grainy aesthetic that sometimes leaves it lacking continuity and revealing high definition clarity. Brighter sequences tend to fair the best and offer discernible levels of delineation and dimension. Contrast and dynamic range fluctuate a bit but this seems innate to the original photography. Blacks are deep but mildly crushed which presents them as flat and lacking in gradational depth. Dark scenes and backgrounds suffer the same fate as details tend to be barely distinguishable. Colors and fleshtones generally look natural with clean rendering throughout the limited range used in the film. I noticed a few noisy backgrounds, intermittent but less than egregiously applied noise reduction and minor edge enhancement, none of which adds up to serious problems. It may not be perfect but I can't say that I have ever seen Conan look better on home video.
The lossless DTS-HD MA encoding makes the most of the elements present in this soundtrack which in my opinion sounds dated. The active elements in the recording don't have the feeling of authority and quantifiable dynamics that you find with today's digital soundtracks but that is to be expected. The surround mix imparts a fair level of extension however the majority of the time the presentation retains a front oriented perspective. The star of the show is Basil Poledouris' rousing and memorable music score which sounds a cut above the soundtrack's remaining elements. Low frequency effects are present in the mix but don't deliver bass response that engages the room or senses. I would liked to have seen a little more attention given to broadening the soundstage. Overall I think that this presentation remains faithful, avoids sounding artificial, and improves upon its lossy counterparts.
- Feature commentary by director John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger
- 6 deleted scenes totaling 5 minutes
- Conan unchained: The making of Conan The Barbarian - 53 minute documentary
- (HD) Art of steel: sword makers and masters - 14 minute featurette
- (HD) Conan: From the vault - 10 minute feature comprised of rediscovered footage/interviews from the production
- Special effects - comparative (1 minute)
- The Conan archives - 11 minute stills gallery
- 2 theatrical trailers
- My Scenes bookmark feature
- D-Box Motion Code enabled
- Pocket Blu - App for iPOD/iPHONE
- BD-Live enabled
Conan The Barbarian is a 1980's sword and sorcery epic loosely based on the character/stories by Robert E. Howard. Co-written by Oliver Stone and John Milius (who also directed) it epitomizes the genre films of its period and holds up quite nicely after nearly 30 years. I am glad to report that it comes to Blu-ray featuring satisfying high definition video quality and crystal clear lossless sound that wonderfully showcases Basil Poledouris' marvelous music score. The bonus material is comprised of archival footage, a making of documentary, two new/exclusive featurettes, deleted scenes and a feature length commentary that offers insights into the film's production. As a fan I am happy to add this solid offering from Universal Studios Home Entertainment to my Blu-ray collection and recommend you do the same.
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