August 15, 2016
Review #829: Red Sonja.
Brigitte Nielsen (Red Sonja), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Lord Kalidor), Sandahl Bergman (Queen Gedren of Berkubane), Paul L. Smith (Falkon), Ernie Reyes, Jr. (Prince Tarn), Ronald Lacey (Ikol), and Pat Roach (Lord Brytag) Directed by Richard Fleischer (#453 - Soylent Green, #460 - Doctor Dolittle, and #624 - Conan the Destroyer)
Boy, is this one dull. It manages to make sword fights sound and look really boring, with no real sense of adventure to it, with a cast that can't liven material that ends in less then 90 minutes. It starts off with a spirit (looking as ridiculous as one would guess) giving our main character her powers, after she recollects the story of how she lost her parents to her (next time you replace a pet, tell them how the previous pet was replaced and see how that goes), with the opening sequence as a whole being somewhat ridiculous, which makes sense for a movie that never seems like it's trying hard enough. Nielsen doesn't really bring much to the character (based off the comic book character of the same name, who was inspired by the character Red Sonya in one of Robert E. Howard's short stories, named The Shadow of the Vulture) that isn't told to us. Sure, she can swing a sword fairly decently, but there never are any scenes where she stands out amidst the boring landscape and a story that feels padded. It makes sense that this came from the same director of Conan the Destroyer, considering both have the same caliber of hokey action and dull attempts at humor, with a kid prince no less. The effects are also nothing spectacular.
The "Icthyan Killing Machine" sequence is slow moving, never coming off as thrilling, though it almost comes off as cheesy due to Schwarzenegger riding on the "machine" in the water for a few moments. He doesn't have as much screen time as Nielsen (which makes sense, I know), but he is somewhat charming, in a cheesy way that is reflected especially in his scenes with Nielsen (there's one scene where they fight each other, and it's ridiculously dull and cheesy at the same time). One could say it's a quick film to get through, but that doesn't mean it's an easy film to get through, and the blame rests on a movie that either can't pull itself together and make these characters interesting or managing to make everything seem cheesier than it actually is. Bergman also does a somewhat laughable job as the villain, as one dimensional as paper, with motivations as random as it gets. I can't even tell which film is worse, this or Destroyer, though at least Arnold is in the latter one more, which I guess makes it slightly better. Red Sonja could've worked under better writing, but the movie as a whole is a mess of complacent numbness that only works for people looking for wooden characters.
Overall, I give it 4 out of 10 stars.