Home Theatre
Conan the Barbarian
By Hervé St-Louis
November 29, 2011 - 07:15

Studios: Lionsgate
Writer(s): Thomas Dean Donnelly , Joshua Oppenheimer, Sean Hood
$39.99 US
Starring: Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Rachel Nichols, Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan
Directed by: Marcus Nispel
Produced by: John Baldecchi, Boaz Davidson
Running Time: 113 minutes
Release Date: Niveber 22, 2011
Rating: R
Distributors: Lionsgate

The Conan movie remake was an ambitious endeavour meant to recapture the spirit of the character and reintroduce him to the world, after having being portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger in a 1980 film. Finally released for home viewing, this collection contains whopping options, such as a Blu-ray3D version, Blu-ray, a DVD release and a digital copy. But is it any good?

The movie itself was a mild success that sought to reinvent Conan for a new generation and perhaps spearhead a new series of franchise. The story tried to cover several elements of Conan’s character, mixing interpretation from both the original pulp stories and the long-lasting comic book series published by Marvel Comics in the 1970s and 1980s. With so much to cover, such as Conan’s origin, establishing the main villains and the subplot with the damsel in distress, there was probably less emphasis on the actual action plot. So while there is a lot of action in this film, the story-arcs are not as balanced. It feels like the conflict with Khalar Zym is too short and the love interest with the girl is too short.

However, the opening arc of the film showing the young Conan and establishing his motivations was well done. The scene where Conan competes with fellow village boys in a race with an egg in his mouth was particularly well done.  The new Conan actor, newcomer Jason Momoa also looked like Conan which can never be bad. He very cocky and had a lot of humour in his character as opposed to being a stoic character with mono-syllable acting, like Schwarzenegger.

Of course, visually, this film was stunning. Conan was shot in Bulgaria which apparently has a strong history of film-making as well as several high-end special effects animators. It probably made the film cheaper to produce, although I’m glad to say that the Bulgarians produced no-less than world class effects. I particularly liked the sand creatures and the sets designs.

Now the real treasure of this collection comes with the extras which are plentiful and allowed even this seasoned comic book fan to learn about Conan. There is an entire piece on Conan creator Robert E. Howard. Although very little information was available about Howard, the bio’s director managed to capture his life and provide a lot of understanding into his life. He also avoids reusing the same images over and over again, as a lot of cheaply produced biographic documentaries tend to do on cable. There is another documentary on Conan’s legacy which appropriately covers the comic book influence on this character but goes beyond. I liked that Frank Frazetta got good props for his visuals on Conan. John Buscema was also mentioned but Barry Windsor-Smith was well-covered. Obviously, Roy Thomas, the man who made Conan what he is today was mentioned. It’s interesting to learn that Dark Horse Comics was working closely with Lionsgate to reintroduce Conan to the public.

The viewing options will be appreciated for the flexibility they offer viewers. I didn’t try the Blu-ray 3D, but had access to the other releases and was pleased. If you’re a Conan fan, you can’t go wrong with this collected edition of the film, although the film itself was not as spectacular as I would have wanted.

Rating: 7/10

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