Conan the Barbarian (Blu-ray)

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Rating: R

Starring:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan
James Earl Jones as Thulsa Doom
Max von Sydow as King Osric
Sandahl Bergman as Valeria
Ben Davidson as Rexor
Cassandra Gava as The Witch
Gerry Lopez as Subotai
Mako as The Wizard / Narrator
Valérie Quennessen as The Princess
William Smith as Conan’s Father

Directed by John Milius

Special Features:
Art Of Steel: Sword Makers and Masters – Explore the artistry that goes into the making of Conan’s handcrafted steel sword – and the expertise required to wield it

Conan: From the Vault – Never-before-seen archival interviews with stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones and Sandahl Bergman, and director John Milius

Deleted Scenes

Conan Unchained: The Making of Conan The Barbarian

Special Effects

The Conan Archives

Feature Commentary with director John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger

D-Box Motion Enabled

BD Live Enabled

Pocket Blu

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Sound
French Subtitles
Running Time: 129 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

“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 15 years in agony, first chained to the Wheel of Pain and then enslaved as a Pitt 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 of the warlord who killed his family.”

“Conan the Barbarian” is rated R.

Mini-Review:
With the impending release of the new “Conan the Barbarian” movie, the 1982 version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger finally gets a Blu-ray release. As I watched this movie, I realized that I had seen bits and pieces of it over the years, but never all of it together in its original theatrical version. I was surprised by what I found.

A lot of “Conan the Barbarian” is quite good. I felt like writer and director John Milius really captured the spirit of the original Robert E. Howard pulp novels. The look of it also seems like it came right off of a Frank Frazetta painting. Then there’s the score by Basil Poledouris. They simply don’t make film scores like this anymore. It’s epic, it has memorable themes, and it perfectly captures the spirit of the story. I’m also amazed by the audacious casting by Milius and company. You have James Earl Jones as the evil Thulsa Doom. Who would have ever thought of casting him in such a role? But it works. Then you have Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan. Despite the fact that he perfectly looked like the character, he was by no means a slam dunk as the lead star. Yet, again, it worked. Throw in Milius’ surfer buddy Gerry Lopez as Subotai, Max von Sydow as King Osric, and Sandahl Bergman as Valeria and you end up with a strange mix of acting veterans and newbies that somehow make a classic epic.

But let’s face it, “Conan the Barbarian” does have areas that the new film can dramatically improve on. First of all, the visual effects are dated. The giant snake Conan battles isn’t terribly convincing. Some of the other ghost and monster effects are equally weak. And despite the fact that Schwarzenegger is visually perfect, his acting is pretty flat. It took years for him to become a passable actor. There are other hokey acting and script moments that keep the movie from growing beyond its B-movie roots.

If you’re a Conan fan or an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, then this is a Blu-ray you’re going to want to add to your collection. And depending on how the new Conan movie is received, it may make you want to check out this version for better or worse.

The Blu-ray has some previously released bonus features like a batch of deleted scenes, a commentary with Schwarzenegger and Milius, and a featurette on the special effects. It also has an excellent hour-long documentary on the making of the movie. While it’s not in HD, it is impressively thorough. It has interviews with Oliver Stone and most of the cast and crew. For the Blu-ray, two new bonus features were created. “Art of Steel: Sword Makers and Masters” shows a company founded by one of the original Conan sword makers that forges sword replicas. The video also shows the original man that trained the actors in sword fighting. Then “Conan: From The Vault” shows vintage press interviews with Schwarzenegger, Milius, James Earl Jones, and Sandahl Bergman. These new bonus features actually are in HD. Are they enough to make you buy the Blu-ray if you already own the DVD? Probably not, but getting the HD version of the movie is enough of a reason to upgrade.

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