Universal // 1982 // 129 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 1st, 2011
"To hell vit you!"
As the new Conan movie looms on the horizon, here's the legendary original on Blu-ray. You know you want to see that green cannibal slime stew in sexy HD.
There are lots of movies out there detailing individuals who have had terrible upbringings, which more often than notleads to horrible deeds perpetrated by them when they became adults.
Get back to me when you've had a childhood like Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Terminator), who as a small child watched his dad get whacked by a barbarian horde and his mom decapitated. Then he gets shipped off to the Wheel of Pain -- which sucks as much as it sounds -- for the entirety of his adolescence.
How does Conan handle these lamentable formative years? By indulging in years of Cimmerian therapy? Taking out his pent-up issues on defenseless forest animals? Dabbling in sexual deviancy? Nope. Conan embarks on a successful career as a pit-fighter, goes to Mongol school to learn about battle tactics and poetry, successfully defeats a gigantic mutant snake, infiltrates a cult, saves a princess, gets crucified to a tree and later resurrected and eventually frees the land from the creeping evil of Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) and his Gold's Gym Henchmen.
Actually, on second thought, I'm fairly certain he was able to squeeze some sexual deviancy in between some of that, but, still, not a bad legacy, right?
Kindly note I stopped short of including the pitiful Conan the Destroyer in that impressive biography, which almost retroactively drained Conan the Barbarian of all of its awesomeness. But Crom cares not for Wilt Chamberlain, he smiles on Conan's first adventure, a hard-R, hack-and-slasher that has seen its mystique increase since it was released in 1982.
Conan is one of those movies that will freeze me in my remote control wanderings if I happen it upon TV. No matter what moment I stumble on, I know there is something fantastic just around the corner -- the witch getting tossed into the fireplace? The orgy battle? Thulsa Doom and his magic arrow snakes? That sublime final battle sequence? All of it is great and now the barbarian shenanigans receive the high definition treatment they so richly deserve.
(That's all I have to write about Conan the Barbarian, right? There's no reason to consume further bandwidth extolling the virtues of a movie we all have seen a thousand times?)
Moving on to what you're waiting for: how does this bad-ass mini-epic look like on Blu-ray? Good. Pretty good. It's not quite the catalog revelation that, say, Flash Gordon is (the current gold standard), but overall, Blu-Conan brings the visual juice. Remastered in a 2.35:1, 1080p (AVC-encoded) transfer, the picture quality holds up nicely when compared to its SD counterparts. Some sequences suffer from grain and the darker moments can get dicey, though on balance, the picture quality holds up well enough to earn a double-dip look from fans. Wait until you see the high-def luster of Thulsa Doom's Green Orgy Stew! Sound comes from a clean, front-loaded DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which kicks in a bit more aggressively during the more chaotic scenes. Extras are recycled: deleted scenes, vintage making-of featurettes, an FX comparison reel and, of course, John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger's legendary audio commentary.
Violent, weird, and raw, Conan the Barbarian still stands tall and mighty. The Blu-ray represents an upgrade, but a little more effort from Universal would have been appreciated.
By Crom, Not Guilty!
Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 129 Minutes
Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes