Attempted reboot of the Conan character. Detailed sets, overdone CGI (nothing new there), production values that Milius would have killed for. As the Cimmerian, Jason Momoa is no Schwarzenegger, though he is better than poor Ralf Moeller. For a lite edit, Agent9 trimmed a hefty 25% of the running time, replaced the score, and recoloured the film.
Video - Solid, rich colour throughout, even desert scenes didn’t look washed out, as so often happens filming under such harsh lighting. Later sequences inside/under the temple were full of blacks and shadows, no artifacts or flaws. Never noticed any odd transitions or jarring trims. Pro level all the way.
Audio - Robust 2 channel stereo - no subs. Dialogue clear throughout. Never caught any bleed through of the original score during the Poledouris cues.
Narrative - Ha! Axe 25% of the narrative and still make sense? Well - yes. C’mon, you ever read any of the Robert E Howard original tales? They pound like a racing cheetah. So does this edit and is completely for the better for it. Plot is sheer pulp, with few lulls in the tempo.
Enjoyment - Of course. The original wasn’t as awful as rock lobbers decry. Score it a 6/10. Agent9's edit is more entertaining, however. Plus, being briefer, one can load up another barbarian quickie (Hundra? maybe not). Easily recommended for swordplay buffs or fans who need a fresh Conan fix.
I love the Hyborian World of Robert E. Howard. I discovered the ACE paperbacks in the late 70s and gobbled them up. Then I discovered the Marvel Comics Conan series, and I quickly gobbled them up too. When I finally saw the original movie starring the Arnold on HBO, I was so excited to see the world of Howard come to life. When the movie ended, I was a very mixed up 13 year old. I liked the movie. Really liked it. It was fun, action packed, violent and filled with sorcery. Plus, I think it was the first ever R rated movie I had ever seen. But it was not the Conan I envisioned or had read about. It was my first hard lesson about the cinematic adaptation of beloved novels... LOL.
When I read about the 2011 remake, I was cautiously optimistic. I went into the movie hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. What I got was something in between. Visually the movie looked like Hyborian World as vividly described by Howard. And Jason Momoa was a far superior Conan in my opinion. But the actual story was a bit all over the place, at times playing too much homage to the novels instead of staying focused. And the score, which was the absolute best part of the first movies, was average and functional.
Which brings us to Agent 9's third fan edit and the one I held the highest anticipation. And I must say, this exciting new editor has delivered a pretty sweet and tasty piece of entertainment!
This version of Conan is very tightly cut and story driven. Maybe slightly over so, as many of the complexities of Conan's character are lost with the exclusion of the slave subplot. But story does move at very brisk pace, and you are never bored. Though there is for me one glaring plot error -- the sudden and unexplained appearance of Artus and his ship at a key point. It really does not make any sense in this new narrative since all his set up was removed. But I understand why the editor made this choice and once you get past this, the story moves along like a roller coaster ride.
I love the addition of the Mako opening and closing narration but the editor had this voice over occurring with a black screen which I found uninteresting. I think some sort of imagery should have been included to enhance the narration... either images of a Hyborian map or lift video of ancient kingdoms (maybe from KULL?) or old King Conan or even just plain title cards.
There a couple cuts/audio transitions that could have been slightly smoothed out but otherwise the video work is beautiful looking.
And now the score. As I said before, the best part of the original Conan movies is the Basil Poledouris music and its addition to this fan edit is a joyously welcomed one. What an incredible difference! The movie instantly becomes elevated into something better and greater! Amazing work Agent 9! Though I did notice that in scenes with dialogue, the music was too loud making it difficult to clearly understand what the characters were saying.
This was a fun fan edit and while not perfect, it does feel like an epic Conan adventure. I recommend it to all Conan addicts.
I am a HUGE fan of all things Conan, but I simply cannot get into THIS remake, therefore I will rate only on the technical points. You have very clean video transitions and audio cues, but the music is a bit loud in some scenes. I can make out the dialogue but just barely. The narrative skipped around a bit much for me personally, but it was nothing too jarring. I do love that you used Conan the Barbarian score(even the rare tracks)! This edit was well done overall, I just personally didn't care for the film itself.
The Cinematic Release.
Unlike most people, I thought the theatrical release wasn't so bad. I enjoyed it enough that after seeing it in theatres (3D, for $20) I was still happy to spring for the blu-ray. It wasn't a cinematic masterpiece, but it was a pretty good sword and sorcery movie, and I think Momoa did a better job as Conan than Schwarzenegger did. I think it would have been better had they adapted one of the better stories rather than making something up.
The fanedit makes the film significantly more pulpy. It cuts out a lot of the extraneous garbage, and what's left is a leaner, better, action movie. Quite good. Taking the audio and some soundclips from the old movies was an excellent decision. The quite forgettable soundtrack was replaced with one that was worlds better. I didn't notice the lighting changes from the original, but everything flowed quite well, and that's the sort of thing you only notice if it's done poorly.
The tentacle monster scene with Isla Shann should be cut. I get the nostalgia factor - and yes, it's a Conan movie, so giant snakes. But it's not a giant snake, and it doesn't add anything meaningful to the film. I would have preferred to see it get cut, and a bit more of the fight/dialogue between Conan and Kalahr get added back in.
I also think that the bit of perverse daughter hits on father and gets rejected in the cinematic movie added something interesting there. It made the bad guys a bit more 3 dimensional.
Is it better than the cinematic release? Yes.
Could it be further tightened up/improved if the editor released a version 2? Yes.
Is it currently a good, watchable S&S film? Absolutely.
The original film was a complete disgrace to Conan and cinema in general. I think I remember rating it a 2/10 after I first saw it. Just a complete mess that seems unsalvageable but then again after seeing a Phantom Menace fanedit that completely turned the crap film around, I guess I can't be surprised at anything anymore, lol.
Anyways, Agent 9 made a damn near perfect edit of this film and turned it almost completely around and into a very very watchable and mostly enjoyable movie. There are still some annoyances, most of which are just from characters alone and not due to editing, but overall this edit took a 2 and turned it into a 7 for sure.
I see in the comments, Agent 9 is aware there may be some issues, and yes, some minor stuff could turn this into an 8/10 easily. Early on, some of the soundtrack is too loud and drowns out Ron Perlman's dialogue but the remainder of the film it's not an issue. If I were to suggest some easy cuts, I'd say toss the whole octopus scene completely; it's wholly unnecessary and kind of crap anyways. I understand the want to keep it for nostalgia sake to compare with the '82 snake scene, but there's no need for it. Also, in the finale, there could be some small chops to remove the witch a little more, who is annoying at all times - and if possible, the whole "possession" sequences could be cut (and mute the audio of the girl saying "let me go" every 2 seconds).
But really, I can't complain much. It's amazing that there was a good film to be found at all in this movie, so kudos to you Agent 9 for making sterling silver our of a turd.