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Conan the Barbarian [Blu-ray]
(John Milius, 1982)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Universal Pictures / Dino De Laurentiis Company
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 46,276,532,275 bytes
Feature Size: 36,743,645,184 bytes
Video Bitrate: 31.97 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 2nd, 2011
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3832 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3832 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
English (SDH), French, none
• Commentary with John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger
•Deleted Scenes (5:35 in 480i)
•Conan Unchained: The Making of Conan the Barbarian (53:15 - 480i)
• Art of Steel: Sword Makers and Masters (14:37 - 1080P)
• Conan: From the Vault (10:17 in 1080P)
• Special Effects (1:37 in 480i)
• The Conan Archives (11:46 in 480i)
• Theatrical Trailers (3:48 in 480i)
Ticker / BD-LIVE
Description: 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 in agony first chained to the Wheel of Pain and then enslaved as a Pit Fighter. Rather than allowing this brutal fate to conquer him Conan builds an incomparable body and an indomitable spirit—both of which he needs when he suddenly finds himself a free man. Aided by his companions Subotai the Mongol (Gerry Lopez) and Valeria Queen of Thieves (Sandahl Bergman) Conan sets out to solve the “riddle of steel ” seize ultimate power and finally take revenge on the warlord who killed his family.
Unlike squeaky clean characters of Superman, Flash Gordon or even Buck
Rogers, Conan the Barbarian actually didn't belong to G-rated world of
simple morality virtues of late 1930s and early 1940s. His character was
indeed invented in 1930s, but the dark imagination of tragically
deceased author Robert E. Howard (1906- 1936) kept Conan outside pulp
fiction mainstream. It was only in 1960s when, thanks to L. Sprague de
Camp and other authors, Conan was rediscovered and later served as some
kind of adult alternative to Tolkien-inspired stereotypes in fantasy
genre. However, Conan reached the peak of its popularity in the media of
comic books, using the new standards of depictions of sex and violence
in order to make his character popular among male teeenagers.
Schwarzenegger does a great job. There really is only one person in the
world who could play Conan, as sympathetic and brutal as he is, and
Arnie definitely pulls it off, in this, his first major starring role.
Of course, there is not much acting going on - he says only five words
to Valeria in the whole movie - but it's all about physical presence,
rather than thespianism. Most of the dialogue is unspoken. Conan was
brought up to be a killing machine, but he does learn humanity through
feeling his own mortality.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Conan the Barbarian looks significantly better on Blu-ray from Universal than I was anticipating. It is extremely clean and sharp showing both smoothness and excellent textured and even grain. There is no gloss exported by the 1080P dual-layered transfer with a high bitrate. Earthy barbarian browns and grays look accurate and tight without manipulation. Skin tones seem true and contrast exhibits decent black levels. There may have been some minor noise in the stygian darkness - but it was wholly insignificant. This Blu-ray has some depth and while we often see weakness in early 80's films - usually because of the stock - this is impressive on many levels. Sword and Sorcery fans will rejoice in the Blu-ray visuals.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3832 kbps is also up to the task. The separations can be sneaky and the aggressive effects produce some healthy, and surprising, bass response. Basil Poledouris composed for the screen for almost 30 years (sadly he left us 5 years ago - thanks Jonathan!) and his original work for Conan stands out as extremely supportive of the atmosphere of the film. The lossless audio only adds to the overall film experience. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Extras include all from the "Collector’s Edition" DVD but also add two featurettes. There is the previous, comfortable, audio commentary with writer/director John Milius and Arnold. Even the crude humor seems applicable in the atmosphere of two guys joking and talking like fans having a beer or two. From that standpoint it may not be as informative with details pushed to the back-burner. The significant 54-minute Conan Unchained: The Making of Conan fills in many gaps that the commentary left behind. It has interviews with producer Ed Pressman, Oliver Stone, Dino De Laurentis, James Earl Jones, Max Von Sydow, plus Arnie and Milius. Included from the SD are the six deleted lasting just over 5-minutes, and "The Conan Archives" slide-show. I don't think I have ever seen Art of Steel: Sword Makers and Masters running 15-minutes and Conan: From the Vault - just over 10-minutes - both in 1080P. Overall this is s stacked package.
July 25th, 2011
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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