Let me start with a confession...I never bothered to watch Conan the Barbarian until just recently. This despite the fact that my brother is a big fan of the film and I have long been a big fan of John Milius. I'll admit that the main reason I never bothered with it and never watched it when it first came out was the fact that it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger an actor I've just never really cared for.
So what prompted my desire to finally pull a copy of the blu-ray of Conan the Barbarian off the shelf and watch it after 32 years of ignoring it? Quite honestly it was a viewing of the recent documentary about the life and career of John Milius titled, of course, Milius. Conan was not the only film from Mr. Milius I had not seen, I also have never seen Red Dawn and again that is primarily due to the cast just not appealing to me and the trailer making the film look...well...horrifically bad.
I can report though that after all these years finally sitting down and watching Conan the Barbarian was a revelation. Arnold is actually perfectly suited to the role and so gives what I think is probably his best performance in a motion picture. Milius treats the material the way you might expect he would and creates a fantasy film for adults...which I think is probably a pretty rare item. This is not a film for children or teens but rather a violent and carnal adventure film which plays like...well...a fever dream you could imagine Milius might have awoken from one night soaked in sweat and who knows what other bodily fluids.
The cast is pretty much perfect and includes folks like James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow, and Mako and they all seem to totally buy into all the weirdness Milius sets out to create. Basically, I would say this film is a pretty unique experience and any fan of Milius that has not seen it (and maybe I was the only one) should rush to get a copy, pop some corn, and sit down for a wacky but fun night in your home theater.
Another thing I want to tell you about this blu-ray is it includes a commentary track that features Milius and Arnold watching the film together...and I have to say this was a hoot. These two guys sound like a couple of goofy teenagers geeking out on what they created and I have to admit I laughed a hell of a lot listening to them because I found their back and forth so off the wall. Trust me, I don't think they are attempting to be funny...they are just being themselves and well...it makes it a must that you watch this one a second time with their commentary running. Truly one of the most oddball film commentaries I have ever heard.