Monday, February 21, 2011

Red Sonja - Another Lesson in Unnecessary Movies (2 of 2)

...Gedren! Where are you?!...

[If you haven't already, make sure to read part one.]

When we last left off, things were getting a bit creepy between warrior-woman Red Sonja and the young Prince Tarn. Thank god that the scene ends quickly. There's a strange love triangle that forms between Sonya, Tarn, and Conan throughout the movie. Even though Conan is obviously going to win (come on, these two were literally written for each other), Prince Tarn has that adorable kind of love for Sonja that reminds me of a third-grader's affection for his/her homeroom teacher. It's fun to see the interrelationships form and change--wait, what am I saying?--I think that I'm reading into this film far too deeply.

I've got to admit, my notes here are starting to get a bit sparse. It's not like the movie suddenly gets worse, it's just that I, as a viewer, am not being properly stimulated. There's an enormous blank area in the middle of the film, where there's not enough rising action or tension to keep my interest building. Instead, the excitement plateaus until we reach the final confrontation. By this point I've seen what the movie has to offer (hint: not much), and now I'm watching the movie just to finish it.

Now, don't take that to mean that the movie isn't worth watching (debatable), or that the rest of the review isn't worth reading (because it's great). Come on, let's keep going.

The Plot (Continued)

Anyway. After the "fencing" practice, Sonja, Tarn, and Falkon are forced into a scary cave by a magically conjured storm. Instead of doing the smart thing and waiting for the storm to pass, Tarn goes looking for treasure. Yup. Treasure. So, in trying to pry a giant pearl from a statue's mouth, they spring a trap (surprise!) which causes the room to fill with water and releases a giant, aquatic, mechanical dragon. THEY FIGHT.

Hey! Conan shows up! Now he’s fighting the dragon-thing. THEY FIGHT. It turns out that the only way to take down a mechanical serpent is to pry its eyes out. Does it make sense? Doesn't have to! Onward.

Now our team is back together, and they celebrate by taking a quick breather in a forest. Sonja explains to Conan that no man can have her, save for he who can best her in combat. So, making the sensible move, given the situation, Conan grabs his sword and challenges Sonja. THEY FIGHT.

But really, it’s so much more than that. THEY FIGHT for an incredibly long time, seeming evenly matched. THEY FIGHT until they’re both exhausted, breathless, satisfied. This is the movie’s love scene, and it’s actually an interesting artistic choice.

Yes. I did just use the word “artistic” with regards to Red Sonja. Don’t worry, it passes quickly.

But now, it's the moment we’ve been waiting for, the final confrontation with the evil Queen Gedren. Her castle is predictably evil; presumably built by Skeletor’s architect. As the four noisily and pointlessly sneak up to the front entrance, they decide to split up. They must move quickly. The area around the castle is becoming unstable; the talisman has grown too powerful and is shaking the world apart. THEY’ve got to hurry and complete their individual FIGHT sequences before the movie ends.

Is the “THEY FIGHT” joke getting old? I hope not, I’m going to use it a few more times.

Conan and Falkor get into a scuffle with some of the castle’s henchmen, spilling a perfectly good stew in the process, Tarn keeps watch at the front door and kills Gedren’s escaping Number Two (actually a big door does the job, but the end result is the same), and Sonja finally comes face to face with Gedren.

Their fight takes them from Gedren’s throne room to the room in which the talisman is kept. It’s pretty basic, like most of the fights in the movie, but Gedren’s alchemist makes the first bit of the fight interesting by teleporting Gedren across the room several times.

It might be worth mentioning here that even though the actress playing Gedren is a Conan veteran (she played Valeria in Conan the Barbarian), neither she nor Brigitte are very good with their swords. Gedren does little more than block the blows of Sonja, who is swinging her sword like she’s trying to chop down a tree.

The castle, by this point, is falling down around them. In the chamber with the talisman, enormous, lava-filled chasms are opening in the floor. Sonja chops some more wood, eventually knocking Gedren into the lava chasm. She throws the talisman in too, for good measure.

The four of our heroes then make their way out of the collapsing castle, escaping (of course) just in time. With the talisman destroyed, Sonja’s sister avenged, and the evil queen killed, the world seems safe--safe enough for our leather-clad protagonists to enjoy some sunshine, a couple of good-natured quips, and a final laugh before we go out on a freeze-frame.

It’s over. Wasn’t that fun? Before I dwell too much on the ending, allow me to present:

The Verdict

I try not to expect cinematic masterpieces from sword and sorcery flicks, and this is certainly no exception. Whereas you can normally count on some cheesy acting, epic set pieces, and plenty of sword fights, this film, though never lacking in sword fights, had cheap and disappointing set pieces, and the acting—oh, the acting—I think that a text-to-speech translator could have delivered the lines better than Arnold and Brigitte. In fact, they act so badly, it’s like they’re in a “see who can act worst” competition (they’re tied for 1st).

As a guy who really enjoyed the Conan films (what guy doesn’t love them?) I was really disappointed with this spin-off. I’m only going to give this one a 2/5 rating and believe me, I’m being generous with the score because of the “so bad it’s good” moments that do occasionally pop up.

The film might be fun if there were some sort of drinking game involved with it—finish a drink whenever Conan unexpectedly saves the day, for example. But otherwise you can skip this one.
Watch the Conan films again, they’re much more fun.

See you next time.

1 comment:

  1. Or ,,,,, its sooooo cool. Should be a classic !!!