Conan the Barbarian
4K Ultra HD
Despite its clichés, Conan's 4K visuals astonish; yet its dull story and missed potential with hits like Evil Dead 2 disappoint.
Disc Release Date:
Conan the Barbarian's 2K DI and film origin make for a splendid 1080p Blu-ray viewing, with HDR improvements in shadow detail and color spectrum, plus consistently natural, slightly warmer skin tones.
The Conan the Barbarian Blu-ray's Atmos track significantly enhances the climactic showdown's sound design, despite fears of generic usage of height speakers. It delivers a rich, impactful experience with distinct instrument sounds, great balance, and depth.
The 1080p Blu-ray package is a barebones 2D version with no extras, save for trailers; it however includes separate HD content focused on engineering the action, staging fights, and a theatrical trailer.
Lionsgate's mid-September 4K UHD upgrades, including The Legend of Hercules, are peculiar choices, marred by a tedious revenge plot and lackluster action, with only occasional highlights from Rose McGowan and some blood and guts.
Conan the Barbarian's transition to 4K UHD Blu-ray presents an impressive visual upgrade from its already splendid 1080p version, primarily deriving its enhancements from the HDR and the enriched color spectrum it brings to the fore. Initially shot on film and subsequently finalized at a 2K Digital Intermediate (DI), one might ponder the extent of improvement a 2K upscaling can offer. However, this release dispels such doubts by showcasing how adeptly it leverages HDR to elevate shadow details significantly. This improvement in darker areas adds a new layer of depth and texture, making the visual experience more immersive and faithful to the director's vision.
Moreover, the color palette benefits immensely from the HDR enhancement, presenting an expanded spectrum that breathes new life into the vibrant yet gritty world of Conan the Barbarian. Scenes are imbued with a vividness that was previously unattainable, with the reds of blood and fire, and the deep blues and greens of landscapes, being particularly noteworthy for their enhanced richness and depth. The upgrade does not stop at merely amplifying the vibrancy; it ensures that the increase in saturation does not compromise the authenticity of the film's aesthetic, thereby striking a commendable balance between enhancement and preservation.
Flesh tones receive a subtle yet significant touch-up, appearing natural, albeit with a slightly warmer hue that adds to the film’s visually rich tapestry. This consistency in skin tones, maintained throughout the movie's duration, further solidifies the 4K UHD version as a definitive viewing experience. The meticulous attention to maintaining naturalism in colors — all while providing the visual spectacle expected from a high-definition upgrade — underscores the technical prowess behind this version's video presentation.
In the audio domain of "Conan the Barbarian" 4K UHD Blu-Ray, enthusiasts and casual listeners alike are treated to a sonic spectacle that navigates a fine line between grandiosity and nuanced soundscaping. The Atmos track, a notable enhancement over its predecessors, brings to the forefront an immersive auditory experience that particularly shines during the film’s climactic confrontations. These scenes are a testament to the meticulous sound design that underpins the feature, elevating it beyond mere background noise to a rich tapestry that complements the visual onslaught. However, it's not without its pitfalls, as there are moments that suggest a somewhat perfunctory implementation of the Atmos technology—employing a somewhat generic use of the height speakers, which, while effective to an extent, leaves room for a more creative and engaging auditory engagement.
The fidelity and balance of the movie’s score and environmental sounds further underscore the audio presentation's quality. The distinctiveness of individual instruments and the clarity of their presentation within the movie's broader auditory landscape is remarkable. This precision ensures not only an impactful aural presence but also maintains an excellent balance that enhances the viewing experience without overwhelming it. The layering and depth within the audio mix are commendable, showcasing a well-thought-out approach that gives each sound its moment without sacrificing the overall cohesiveness.
Despite some critiques regarding the utilization of Atmos features, "Conan the Barbarian" on 4K UHD Blu-Ray sets a high watermark in home cinema audio performance. Its ability to fill a room with meticulously crafted soundscapes—ranging from the subtlest whispers to the thunderous clangs of battle—demonstrates a keen awareness of space and dynamics. This auditory presentation not only captures the essence and intensity of Conan’s world but does so with a clarity and depth that immerses listeners fully in every scene’s emotional and physical landscape.
The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Conan the Barbarian" boasts a remarkably sparse but finely-curated selection of extras, tailored primarily towards enthusiasts of film production and choreography. However, it's important to point out that these supplementary materials are not found on the accompanying 1080p Blu-ray disc, which only includes trailers for other Lionsgate properties, limiting the accessibility of these extras to those who can experience the 4K disc. The content, while limited in quantity, is rich in informational value, providing insightful glimpses into the meticulous craftsmanship behind the iconic action sequences and fight choreography that define this cinematic classic.
Extras included in this disc:
- Engineering The Action: Insight into the technical marvels and challenges faced during action sequence production.
- Staging The Fights: A deep dive into the choreography and execution of the film's memorable fight scenes.
- Theatrical Trailer: The original promotional trailer for the film.
In this latest 4K UHD Blu-ray release by Lionsgate, "Conan the Barbarian" emerges as one of the more peculiar choices for an upgrade, especially when viewed alongside the simultaneous release of "The Legend of Hercules 4K." Despite its ambitions to dazzle with advanced visual and audio enhancements, "Conan the Barbarian" struggles to justify its place within the pantheon of classic cinema deserving such a technical makeover. The film, unfortunately, falls short in delivering a compelling narrative, primarily hindered by a lackluster revenge plot that fails to captivate or maintain interest.
Technically speaking, the 4K upgrade accentuates certain elements of the film, such as occasional flourishes of blood and gore which are rendered with sharp detail, potentially appealing to a niche audience fascinated by visceral effects. Rose McGowan's performance is somewhat of a silver lining, her portrayal being one of the few components that generate interest. However, these few merits are overshadowed by the overall execution of the film, which is marred by underwhelming action sequences that lack the dynamic energy and coherence expected in modern cinematic experiences.
The endeavor to bring "Conan the Barbarian" into the 4K UHD Blu-ray realm by Lionsgate highlights a technical proficiency in enhancing visual and audio fidelity. Yet, it ultimately raises questions about the selection criteria and value proposition for such upgrades. Without a compelling narrative or engaging action sequences, the film’s high-definition revival does little to elevate it beyond its original criticisms. As such, the movie section on this 4K release serves as a stark reminder that technological embellishments alone cannot salvage a fundamentally flawed film.
The 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation of "Conan the Barbarian" stands as a testament to the power of modern home cinema technology, brilliantly elevating a film that might otherwise be dismissed for its formulaic narrative and often criticized clichés. The visual enhancement brought by the 4K resolution is nothing short of remarkable, injecting a dose of vitality into the movie's expansive and rugged landscapes, and elevating its spectacle. The vividness and clarity with which each scene is rendered often transcends the film's narrative shortcomings, providing an immersive experience that is both striking and, in moments, truly astounding.
However, beyond the visual feast, the content itself - a straightforward revenge tale - struggles to carve a unique identity or offer substantive redemption for its lackluster plot. The film's reliance on genre tropes without significant innovation or depth may leave viewers wanting, rendering it a piece more appreciated for its technical accomplishments than its storytelling prowess. This dichotomy between presentation and content reflects a missed opportunity to match the groundbreaking visual quality with equally compelling narrative elements.
In conclusion, while "Conan the Barbarian" on 4K UHD Blu-ray may not revolutionize narrative filmmaking or offer a story that sets itself apart from the plethora of revenge narratives, it unmistakably sets a high standard for home video presentation. The upgrade offers a visual spectacle that can transform an otherwise ordinary viewing experience into something memorable. For enthusiasts of technical cinema and collectors inclined towards visually stunning pieces, this release warrants consideration. However, those seeking depth and innovation in story may find the content itself lacking. Ultimately, this edition underscores the evolving landscape of home entertainment, where exceptional presentation heightens even the most criticized films.