Almost Super: Red Sonja
Red Sonja 1985
I have been going back and forth on whether or not to have this movie be a part of the rest of the movies or to have it under my “Almost Super” category. It’s based on a character in a Marvel comic book, but since it’s much more of a low fantasy rather than a superhero so I ultimately decided to use the Almost Super tag. Another reason why I wanted to review the movie, aside from the fact that I vaguely remember watching it and liking it when I was younger, is that the Lamb is having its Lamb Acting School for Arnold Schwartzenegger this month, and I’m not quite ready to revisit the 90’s Batman series ending in his portrayal of Mr. Freeze, so I was left to choose between the two Conan movies and this movie. And while the movie is called Red Sonja, Arnold still manages to get top billing as the secondary lead above acting newcomer Brigitte Nielson. While there were some interesting parts in the movie, it did not nearly hold up to my memory of it.
This movie is more or less a female version of Conan the Barbarian, even to the point that Arnold essentially plays the role of Conan as a sidekick/love interest to Red Sonja although they decided to give him a different name for whatever reason. The actress that plays Sonja was originally a model rather than an actress and it really shows. She is very stiff and at times difficult to understand, although I will say that her swordplay was fairly decent. I was actually somewhat surprised that it was Arnold in the first half of the movie who showcased poor sword skills, although that could easily be due to shabby fight choreography. In most of the early fight scenes it was just a repetitive overhead block followed by a stomach slash to dispatch the random guards. It is made up for in the later battle scenes, especially the drawn out practice battle between Sonja and Conan, err Arnold, err Kalidor.
The other two allies in the movie aren’t nearly as interesting as the two leads who were mostly cast for their looks in the first place. There is a spoiled child prince named Tarn and his overweight royal guard Falkon. Tarn is played by the same kid who would go on to play the annoying pizza guy in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, and he’s no less annoying in this movie. It seemed a rather random choice to include in this movie, although his character is the only one who goes through any growth in the movie, transforming instantaneously from a spoiled brat to a respectful child in a single scene where Sonja teaches him the correct way to hold a sword. While his sidekick Falkon is essentially just there for comic relief, though he does get a few licks in the final climactic battles alongside some of the only so-called jokes.
The villain is Queen Gedron who has taken a green orb called the talisman for herself. She is power crazy and thinks she can use the talisman to conquer the entire world. She wears a golden mask and has a sorcerer at her disposal. Unfortunately the only thing that the movie shows that the talisman is able to do is to vaporize any man that touches it instantly. So it’s rather unclear exactly how Gedron is able to use the talisman to her advantage. Sonja’s sister also says before she dies that if the talisman goes unchecked that it will destroy the entire world. Again, it’s very unclear how or why the talisman will destroy anything, but that’s what they’re told. Aside from the whole generic take over the world plan, Gedron isn’t very memorable, and there’s also the odd fact that Gedron doesn’t want Sonja defeated, she wants Sonja for herself.
The special effect in this movie aren’t really anything to speak of, it’s mostly generic sword battles with little to no blood or gore involved aside from a brief severed head flying through the air. Most of the actual sword hits happen just off screen. There is also a random giant spider puppet that just kind of skitters around on camera for a little bit. The one big special feature set piece is a giant mechanical sea dragon, and while it looks extremely stiff and fake, the actual speed and force of it as it moved underwater was pretty impressive, and it actually looked like it was a fairly dangerous thing to work with even though the scene went on for way too long.
There honestly isn’t much more I can say about this movie, the plot of the movie is rather random, moving from one mini-adventure to another, heading in the general direction of getting the talisman. Most of the sidetracks were extremely forgetful and served no real purpose to the story other than being a distraction/hindrance to their ultimate goal. The only thing I actually did like about this movie was the bit of a love story between Sonja and Kalidor. There wasn’t much to it, but I liked the idea of the competitive nature of their attraction and the all out sword fight between them was the best part of the movie. After this, I’ll be back to watch a couple more DC animated movies before watching the Spider-Man trilogy to get ready for the new Spider-Man movie. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.