Just as wide-eyed Spinal Tap acolytes rever Valhalla for the mere existence of Manowar, so too the burgeoning ranks of fanedit viewers ought to worship TMBTM for this sonic swash through the Hyborian Age. I needlessly feared I would not like this “silent” Conan. Too loud or too dumb. Turns out, this nicely trimmed version is well thought out and well executed. What you hear is what you see. Or as one might say - Behold!
Video - MPEG 720 X 480p. I foolishly dropped a lower rez file, then got the DVD. Wise choice. There are several cuts - probably more than I suspect - and though I noticed a missing sequence here and there, I never noticed from sloppy or abrupt cutting.
Audio - 2 Channel stereo, AC3. No subs, not that it matters. As indicated fully in title and notes, this is primarily a “silent” version of Conan, with music by metal group Manowar replacing most of the dialogue and all of the Poldoris score. The syncing of music to onscreen action is outstanding. Riffs roar during mayhem, caress melodic during pensive or thoughtful moments. The dialogue is not fully absent, though some of the transitions out of dialogue back to Manowar are a bit steep. One that comes to mind is just before Conan and Subotai reflect on the wind that blows through all mens’ soul. Not a complaint.
Narrative - Several scenes were deleted. While I noticed them, their ommission did not affect the story. Dialogue is at an absolute minimum in this, such as when King Osric hires the trio for a mission. This edit bore up well, and TMBTM selected wisely. You don’t have to know the underlying story to follow along, although additional spoken bits would have helped. I can see where sections of this might head scratching. R E Howard fans, you should have no trouble tracking the story and understanding character motivations.
Enjoyment - Midway through the film, Conan and Valeria surrender to romantic urges. While watching I detected the opening strains of the music and thought, “That sounds like Nessun Dorma.” Sure enough, the opening strains of Puccini’s Turandot swelled. Even though I knew that TMBTM had replaced all music with MOW, I asked myself, “Michael Bolton?” (the ex-shaghead once released a disc of personal opera faves.) Of course not, it was Manowar attempting a number completely beyond them.
What an audacious choice, however! It capsized the mood in a manner that was seriously wrong yet so totally fitting. I was laughing out loud, shaking my head, and clapping. Such an unexpected selection.
The DVD has several nice gems, by the way, including an entertaining menu that affords tender-foots a glimpse into the Manowar world. Will this replace my Conan? No. Will I replay this again? Yes! Will I play it during the next house bash. Absolutely!! Get those relatives outta my home permanently.
Conan The Barbarian - the original film - can't seem to decide whether it wants to be smart or stupid. And I don't mean the later in a bad way, either. It just awkwardly juggles philosophical themes with more mindless fantasy action that don't seem to directly serve the points its trying to make. This edit forgoes much of the contemplation of the nature of the power of belief versus disbelief, and instead focuses on the adventure, the revenge, the self-mastery of Conan himself. It's a modern viking saga, a rock opera. Manowar and Conan were meant to be together. The original Poledouris score was magnificent, but the expertly selected power metal songs work even better, as far as I'm concerned. The tempo of songs match the re-edited sequences masterfully, and the lyrics are always appropriate, either literally or thematically. There's a sense of humor for the choices used to accompany the sex scenes, but I won't spoil any specifics. There's also a few very impressive visual effects - the included making of pointed out a few that I didn't realize weren't part of the original film! There's one minor technical flub - for a very short stretch early in the edit (19:13 - 21-03), there's some vertical pillarboxing on the left side of the screen. This may be something left over from the source material, but it could easily have been cropped out. Of course, if overscan isn't disabled, it may not be visible on some TVs anyway. An extremely minor nitpick, of course. The movie is much better paced in this edit, with only the bare minimum of dialogue present to give us needed exposition or character development. The wild blueberries scene was a pleasant surprise for me - that scene is absent in the North American version of the film, and it's inclusion works very well as a calm before the storm. My only gripe is that most, if not all of Thulsa Doom's dialogue has been removed (or, in one clever instance, replaced). I think, at the very least, his discussion with Conan about the merits of the power of flesh versus the power of steel should have been retained. The opening discussion about the power of steel and Crom is also missing. Considering how incredibly often the word "steel" appears in Manowar lyrics, these scenes' absence are wasted potential. Could even have used "The Secret of Steel" for those. Also, there's a tiny continuity flub. Valeria mentions having promised the wizard to pay a price for Conan's resurrection, but the scene in which she had done so is absent. I suppose she and Akiro could have had some sort of off-screen discussion, but it's odd that the callback wasn't cut as well.
Again, my nitpicks are few and of the most minimal nature. I had an absolutely wonderful time watching this edit. Music combines with imagery to produce an incredibly entertaining fantasy epic. Or, if you will, the most elaborate music video of all time. I prefer it to the original film, and would recommend it strongly to everyone but the most adamant detesters of the power metal genre. TMBTM, you just keep on impressing me. I'd love to see a followup to this some day. Not The Destroyer, per se. Considering how much of Manowar's music revolves around Norse mythology, I think there's some serious potential in Marvel's Thor movies...
Replacing the soundtrack of the definitive Sword and Sorcery movie with some of Manowar's best music was exactly what this and other universes need, and I can only thank the hell out of The Man Behind the Mask for pleasing the Gods of War.
A/V Quality: 10
-Visual Editing: 10
A lot of scenes were cut and rearranged in this edit specifically to keep in touch with the music, and it worked without a hitch. There were also some nice visual additions that include polishing and eighties-ing up the training montage and a special cameo from Anthony Hopkins.
-Audio Editing: 10
The entire soundtrack and most of the dialogue is cut to make room for more Manowar. One scene in which Thulsa Doom's speech is replaced by a spoken segment of the album Gods of War was a nice touch.
Conan: Man of War is essentially a 96 minute music video and yet I was still engrossed in the basic story. Conan's parents were still murdered by Thulsa Doom and Conan was still on his mission to get his revenge. It was pretty cool how little the journey itself changed.
If Conan the Barbarian were a rock opera, it would basically be this.
This isn't exactly a go-to edition of the fantastic Conan: the Barbarian, and it was never intended to be. Think of it as a kickass ode to a kickass movie with a load of kickass music rolled up in a ball of screaming sweating barbarian metal.
TMBTM may be my favorite Faneditor. And this edit is no exception. I had never even heard of Manowar before this edit, and i have to thank TMBTM for introducing me to this band. I can't believe what i have been missing out on all this time. Not only is their music grand and epic, it blends with Conan perfectly. It's a match made in Valhalla.
I just love this edit so much. While other edits he has done like War of the Stars may be technically superior, i find myself watching this more often.