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Conan the Barbarian

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 3 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Conan the Barbarian's 4K release fails to impress with its 'meh' aspects despite good audio, facing criticism for lacking uniqueness and engagement.

    Conan the Barbarian 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • Conan the Barbarian's 4K UHD release offers subtle detail improvements and notable HDR enhancements, making it a modest yet visually richer upgrade from the 1080p version.

  • Audio
  • Conan the Barbarian's 4K release with Dolby Atmos enhances audio clarity and immersion, though height speaker use lacks creativity, yet the overall sound design impressively envelops with dynamic battle scenes and clear dialogue.

  • Extra
  • The 4K UHD Conan the Barbarian package includes ported supplements from the Blu-ray, a 2D 1080p disc with trailers and 5.1 audio, but lacks 3D's 7.1 audio. Features audio commentaries, HD documentaries, and a theatrical trailer; all details from 2011 review.

  • Movie
  • Lionsgate's random 4K upgrades and the disappointing Conan The Barbarian reboot highlight odd choices and missed potential in film revivals.

    Video: 77

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation of "Conan the Barbarian," offered by Lionsgate Films, boasts a 2160p resolution and adheres to a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Originating from a film source and subsequently finished with a 2K DI, the transition to 4K UHD provides discernible, though occasionally modest, enhancements in detail and texture. Notably, the rendition of complex textures such as Corin's furs exhibits a remarkable level of detail, revealing individual hairs with impressive clarity. The upgrade is especially evident in CG-enhanced sequences—take the sand skeleton battle, for instance—which display a more refined look compared to their 1080p counterparts.

    HDR implementation is where this release truly shines, introducing a welcomed depth to the film's shadow details and a richer, more vibrant color palette. This heightened color fidelity moves away from the washed-out tones seen in previous transfers, offering a picture that feels more three-dimensional and engaging. However, despite these improvements, it's important to note the overall enhancement might seem incremental to some, particularly when contrasting this release with other standout 4K UHD transfers. The grain structure, while preserving the cinematic texture, occasionally appears slightly noisy in brighter scenes, an attribute that might not appeal to all viewers.

    The technical specifications include an HEVC / H.265 encoding on a BD-66 layer disc, ensuring a robust and detailed image presentation. Black levels are notably deep and nuanced, enhancing the visual depth without obscuring fine details within darker scenes. Colors, especially blues and golds/browns, are rendered with a newfound intensity, contributing to the fuller and more natural appearance of the film. Finally, skin tones remain consistent and natural throughout the presentation, with facial textures being remarkably clear from various distances. Despite some criticisms concerning the overall impact of the HDR enhancement and the occasional noisy grain, this release marks a solid yet subtle advancement in the visual treatment of this classic film.

    Audio: 85

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Conan the Barbarian" introduces a Dolby Atmos audio track that breathes new life into the film's epic landscape, despite some mixed outcomes related to its execution. Notable from the start is Morgan Freeman's narration, which emerges with clarity and presence, hinting at the expanded dynamic range and immersive experience the Atmos mix aims to provide. The battle scenes and score significantly benefit from this upgrade, boasting comprehensive midair dynamics and a robust surround sound presence that envelops the viewer in Conan's world. The film’s climactic showdown is a particular highlight, showcasing the Atmos track's capability to deliver forceful LFE and impressive discrete channel utilization, enhancing the overall auditory impact of these key moments.

    However, the implementation of the Atmos height channels receives criticism for feeling somewhat underutilized and lackluster, particularly in relation to the score, which fails to exploit the vertical dimension in a meaningful way. This aspect came across as an afterthought rather than a fully integrated component of the audio mix, leaving some potential of the Atmos format untapped. Despite these shortcomings, the audio format—comprising English Dolby Atmos (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), and even a thoughtful 2.0 Dolby Digital option for late-night viewing—provides palpable improvements over its predecessors. The fidelity of battle scenes is richer and more expansive, lending a more impactful auditory experience, though it occasionally lacks the atmospheric nuance and strategic use of height speakers that could have elevated it further.

    The meticulous attention to detail in sound design still shines through, with excellent dynamics, a strong low-frequency extension that brings action scenes to vivid life, and accurate sound placement creating a cohesive and engaging sonic environment. Dialogue remains crisp and intelligible, cutting through the densest action without compromise. While there are instances of immersive moments with effective use of overhead channels, these are too few to consistently enhance the audio presentation to its fullest potential. Even with these critiques, "Conan the Barbarian" on 4K UHD Blu-ray offers a substantially engaging audio experience that significantly improves upon previous releases, making it a noteworthy update for fans of the film and audiophiles alike.

    Extra: 77

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray edition of "Conan the Barbarian" provides an adequate but uninspiring supplemental package, primarily inherited from its predecessor, the standard Blu-ray release. Notably, the main attraction lies in the inclusion of a comprehensive audio commentary featuring both the director Marcus Nispel and actors Jason Mamoa and Rose McGowan, providing insightful commentary into the film's production and thematic depth. Contentwise, the extras delve into the rich legacy of Conan, offering a mix of behind-the-scenes looks and deep dives into the creative processes behind this iconic character's cinematic rendition. However, the absence of new or exclusive content for this 4K release, combined with a downgrade in audio quality on the provided 2D Blu-ray disc which lacks any supplemental material except trailers, makes it less appealing for audiophiles and collectors seeking an upgrade or novel insights.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Audio Commentary: With Director Marcus Nispel.
    • Audio Commentary: With Actors Jason Mamoa and Rose McGowan.
    • The Conan Legacy: Exploring the history and influence of Conan.
    • Robert E. Howard: The Man Who Would Be Conan: A look at the creator of Conan.
    • Battle Royal: Engineering The Action: Behind-the-scenes on crafting the film's action sequences.
    • Staging The Fights: Insights into the choreography of the movie's fight scenes.
    • Theatrical Trailer: The official movie trailer in high definition.

    Movie: 62

    Lionsgate's ambitious delve into its catalog for 4K UHD upgrades brings us a visually impressive but critically underwhelming title this September, with the release of Conan the Barbarian in 4K UHD. The choice to update this particular film—a reboot that neither captured the box office nor the hearts of critics upon its initial release—presents an interesting, albeit bewildering strategy, suggesting a seemingly random selection process from Lionsgate's vast array of titles. This reimagining of the classic Schwarzenegger vehicle, which is remembered fondly for its camp appeal and iconic lead performance, unfortunately falls short in recapturing the magic and allure of its predecessors, serving as a stark reminder that not all properties benefit from modern updates or visual enhancements.

    Jason Momoa steps into the titular role with a physical presence that is commendable, but the film itself is marred by a lack of compelling storytelling and uninspired action sequences. Despite updated effects and a more contemporary production value promised by the transition to 4K UHD, Conan the Barbarian struggles to establish its own identity, often feeling lackluster in its execution of a basic revenge plot. The visually enriched landscapes and enhanced gore details brought forth by the 4K presentation do little to elevate a script that fundamentally suffers from underdeveloped characters and a forgettable narrative arc.

    From a technical standpoint, the Ultra HD Blu-ray release boasts formidable packaging and aesthetically pleasing box art, perhaps ironically highlighting one of the film's few universally praised aspects. The inclusion of a BD-60 Ultra HD Blu-ray disc alongside standard Blu-ray and digital HD options underscores Lionsgate's commitment to providing a superior viewing experience—even for films that may not have initially resonated with audiences or critics. However, this visual and technological upgrade does beg the question of whether such investments are wisely allocated, particularly for films like Conan the Barbarian, which, despite its ambitions, ultimately remains an emblematic example of a reboot that failed to justify its necessity or capture the spirit of the original.

    Total: 72

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation of "Conan the Barbarian" is a mixed bag that holds certain allure for audiophiles and visual purists, albeit its narrative and general cinematic execution leave much to be desired. While the film itself may not stand out as a remarkable entry in the swords and sandals genre, offering a rather lackluster revenge story that barely distinguishes itself, its upgrade to 4K UHD format does provide occasionally striking visuals and, more notably, an impressive sonic experience. However, the absence of a 3D Blu-ray option for enthusiasts and collectors might be seen as a missed opportunity by Lionsgate.

    Critics of the film have pointed out its middling quality across various aspects including plot, acting, and visual presentation, aligning with a broader consensus of mediocrity that extends to its physical disc version. This sentiment reflects a broader trend within Lionsgate's catalog releases, where a significant portion seems to cater to an indeterminate audience, pushing out titles with minimal upgrades in video quality. Despite managing to impress with Atmos audio tracks, the overall video enhancement leaves something to be desired. Whether this strategy taps into an unexplored market niche or simply overlooks the preferences of home cinema enthusiasts remains a point of contention.

    In conclusion, "Conan the Barbarian" on 4K UHD Blu-ray represents a paradox of technological enhancement overshadowed by content that barely resonates. While the audio-visual improvements are commendable, particularly for audiophiles, they hardly compensate for the film's inherent weaknesses or justify its selection over other potential classics awaiting a 4K makeover. The release raises questions about Lionsgate's selection criteria and market research strategies, suggesting a shift towards more critically acclaimed or cult classic titles might better satisfy the discerning tastes of the home cinema community.