Conan the Barbarian appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. At all times, the presentation looked solid.
I certainly failed to detect any problems with sharpness. The movie featured excellent delineation and clarity at all times, with virtually no softness on display. Jagged edges and shimmering created no concerns, and neither edge haloes nor source flaws marred the image.
Conan featured a fairly stylized palette. Few dynamic hues popped up, as the flick preferred a variety of gray, brown and earthy green tones. These looked fine within the movie’s visual choices.
Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows seemed full and clear. I found no reason to complain about this strong image.
I felt the same way about the Dolby Atmos audio of Conan. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the soundfield helped create an immersive setting.
Atmospherics ruled the day, as the natural environment seemed engaging and involving. In addition, the many action sequences managed to provide accurately placed elements that moved smoothly across the speakers. The various pieces combined to form a fine soundscape.
At all times, audio quality appeared excellent. Effects became the most prominent aspect of the track and they were solid. Those components appeared accurate and dynamic, as they boasted terrific low-end.
Music also showed very nice range and clarity, while speech was concise and crisp. The mix brought the material to life in a satisfying manner.
How did the 4K UHD release compare to the Blu-ray edition? Audio offered a bit more engagement and range, while visuals demonstrated stronger definition with deeper blacks and richer colors. Because the Blu-ray already looked terrific, I couldn’t call this a tremendous upgrade, but the 4K fared better.
When we shift to extras, we open with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Marcus Nispel, as he offers a running, screen-specific look at story and character topics, cast and performances, sets and locations, makeup and effects, action and stunts, music, shooting 3D and a few other elements.
Nispel offers a perfectly decent track here – no more, no less. He covers an appropriate array of subjects and does so with reasonable gusto and detail.
At times he simply narrates the film, and those slow down the chat, but they’re not too frequent. While the commentary never becomes particularly engaging, it gives us the necessary details in an efficient manner.
For the second commentary, we hear from actors Jason Momoa and Rose McGowan. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at characters and performances as well as various experiences during the shoot.
If you expect any good movie-making insights from the actors, you’ll experience disappointment here. Oh, this isn’t a terrible track, as Momoa and McGowan keep things moving reasonably well. Unfortunately, they don’t really tell us a lot of interesting details beyond what “sucks” and what was fun. It’s a passable listen but not anything memorable.
A few featurettes follow. The Conan Legacy goes for 10 minutes, two seconds and offers notes from Momoa, Nispel, writers Joshua Oppenheimer, Thomas Dean Donnelly and Sean Hood, Conan the Phenomenon author Paul Sammon, producers Boaz Davidson and Fredrik Malmberg, executive producer Avi Lerner, Marvel Comics former writer/editor-in-chief Roy Thomas, Age of Conan game director/producer Craig Morrison, and actor Rachel Nichols.
We learn about the original Conan stories, their survival over the years, and their move into pop culture in the 1960s/1970s. We also find some notes about adapting the character to the big screen. “Legacy” doesn’t provide a great deal of details, but it delivers a nice overview of the character’s development over the decades.
With the 11-minute, 25-second Robert E. Howard: The Man Who Would Be Conan, we hear from Sammon, Thomas, McGowan, Hood, and The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard editor Rob Roehm. We get a quick biography of Conan creator Robert E. Howard and learn a bit about his work. Like “Legacy”, this one lacks depth, but it gives us a tight, brisk synopsis, so it’s a nice overview.
Battle Royal: Engineering the Action lasts nine minutes, 56 seconds and features Nispel, Momoa, Davidson, Malmberg, Lerner, Nichols, Hood, production designer Chris August, stunt coordinator Noon Orsatti, 2nd unit director David Leitch, and actor Stephen Lang.
The show looks at the choreography and execution of the movie’s stunts and action scenes. Expect another quick but satisfying piece, as this one gives us a good collection of notes.
In addition to the movie’s trailer, Staging the Fights fills five minutes, 48 seconds. It shows a split-screen presentation much of the time so we see live-action pre-vis footage of different scenes compared to the final product. This becomes a fun way to inspect the movie’s planning.
A second disc provides a Blu-ray copy of the film. To my surprise, it offers a “dumbed down” version that lacks all of the original Blu-ray’s extras – and even opts for DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound instead of the prior 7.1 mix.
Why didn’t Lionsgate simply use the old disc here? I have no idea – all the other 4K/BD combos I’ve seen from them went with the standard retail Blu-ray. Since the 4K offers all of the old BD’s extras, it’s not the end of the world, but it still seems strange.
Note that the 2011 Blu-ray package also included a 3D version of Conan that fails to reappear here. I didn’t yet have a 3D TV when I reviewed the original release so I can’t state if this is a horrible loss, but it’s too bad Lionsgate didn’t throw it in and make this an “Ultimate Edition”.
After a few decades away from the screen, the Conan character returns via 2011’s Conan the Barbarian - and he gives us a pretty nice comeback, as the movie delivers the requisite violence, gore and action. The film’s never better than pretty good, but it’s a satisfying take on the role. The 4K UHD disc provides excellent picture and audio along with a reasonable roster of bonus materials. Conan gives us a mostly enjoyable adventure.
To rate this film visit the prior review of CONAN THE BARBARIAN