Conan The Barbarian 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 271, January/February 2024

WSR Score3.5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Arrow Video
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Strong bloody violence, some sexuality and nudity
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-100)
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John Milius
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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In "Conan The Barbarian," Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) seeks vengeance for the death of his parent at the hands of Thulsa Doom, the leader of a snake cult. In an ancient land, young Conan witnesses his family being slaughtered by an evil snake cult ransacking his village. Raised as a slave, the adult Conan rises up though the fighting pits, becoming an unparalleled and fearsome warrior. Unexpectedly freed, Conan and his companions –– two fighters, Subotal (Gerry Lopez) and Valeria (Sandah l Bergman), as well as a Wizard (Mako) –– are enlisted by King Osric (Maz von Sydow) to free his daughter from the hypnotic Duchess of the same cult that murdered Conan's family long ago, led by the shape-shifting sorcerer Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones). (Gary Reber)

Special features include 11 featurettes: "Designing Conan" new interview with production artist William Stout, :Costuming Conan" new interview with costume designer John Bloomfield, "Young Conan" new interview with Actor Jorge Sanz, "Barbaric Effects" new interview with special effects crew members Colin Arthur and Ron Hone, "Cutting The Barbarian" new interview with assistant editor Peck Prior, "Conan And The Priest" new interview with Actor Jack Taylor, "Crafting Conan's Magic" new interview with visual effects crew members Peter Kuran and Katherine Kean, "Barbarians And Northmen" new interview with filmmaker Robert Eggers, "Behind The Barbarian" new interview with John Walch, author of "Conan The Barbarian: The Official History Of The Film", "A Line In The Sand" new interview with Alfio Leotta, author of the "Cinema Of John Milius", "Conan: The Rise Of A Fantasy Legend" featurette on the film's literary and comic book roots, "Conan: From The Vault" compilation of of on-set cast and crew interviews, "Art Of Steel: Sword Makers & Mssters" interview with sword master Kiyoshi Yamasaki and "A Tribute To Basil Poladouris" ; rarely-seen electronic press kit from 1082; split-screen "Valeria Spirits" visual effects comparison and outtakes. Also included are commentary by Director John Milius and Actor Arnold Schwarzeneger, new commentary by genre historian Paul M. Sammon (author of "Conan: The Phenomenon," and the domumentary "Conan Unchained: The Making of Conan."

The 2.35:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision/HDR10 picture, reviewed on a VIZIO Quantum X P85QX-JI UHD/HDR display, was photographed on Eastman film stock in anamorphic Todd AO 35 using the Arriflex 35 BL camera system and sourced from a new 4K Digital Intermediate restoration from the original negative. The picture retains an organic film grain structure the is never objectionable. The color palette is filmic with rich and warm bold colors that at times pop. Colors exhibit earthy hues of browns and greens with a mountainous desolate backdrop. Nuanced hue shadings are evident throughout. Flesh tones are perfectly natural. Depth and spatial dimensionality appear generally natural. Skies are blue and light, creating excellent HDR contrast with deep blacks and revealing shadows in the main imagery. Resolution is excellent with sharp landscapes and object textures. Facial and body features appear generally nicely defined. Clothing appears rough in fiber texture. While there are a few instances of minimal softness, the picture is sharp and clear, as well as pristine throughout. Overall, this is a cinematic presentation with numerous spectacular scenes that generally are captivating visually. (Gary Reber)

The repurposed and remixed Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel ssoundtrack, whose origin is monaural elements. Atmospherics sound realistic, such as birds and wind, and sound effects also sound natural such as galloping horses and the sound of metal sword blades. These elements are spread across soundstage. Dialogue is ADR produced with generally decent results. Basil Poledouris' orchestral/choral score is a dominant sound element and occupies a wide and deep soundstage with aggressive surround envelopment. Surround envelopment is rather constant. Deep bass extension sounds natural. Fidelity is good for the period.

The Immersive Sound element is comprised of an active extension of the orchestral/choral score, galloping horses, atmospheric din, commune rumblings, wind, and minor sonics. The music is the dominent height layer sound element that provides good enhanced dimensionality.

This is a strong orchestral/choral and atmospheric holosonic® spherical surround soundtrack with lots of fighting and sword clashes that will please fans of the epic. (Gary Reber)