Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues – Review (Shout! Factory Blu-ray)
I knew nothing about Red Sonja before popping in the new Shout! Factory Blu-ray release of Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues. Okay, maybe nothing is a bit of a stretch, as I did know that Brigitte Nielsen played her in an 80s movie I never got around to watching. Besides that, nothing else. Thankfully, you do not need to know much about Red Sonja to sit down and watch Queen of Plagues. Originally released as an 184 page graphic novel by Gail Simone, Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues comes to us as a 72-minute motion graphic novel, with some full, albeit sketchy voice acting and additional animations not seen in paper form. Is the disc worth it for fans and non-fans? Read on to find out…
DISCS: 2 (1 Blu-ray, 1 DVD) RUN-TIME: 72 min ASPECT RATIO: 1.78:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: English DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo LANGUAGE: English SUBTITLES: None REGION: A/1 RATING: NR PRODUCTION DATE: 2016 RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2016
Red Sonja, the She-Devil with a Sword, intends to pay back a blood debt owed to the one man who has gained her respect… even if it means leading a doomed army to their certain deaths! Who is Dark Annisia, and how has this fearsome warrior accomplished what neither god nor demon has been able to do: force Sonja to her knees in surrender? An epic tale of blood, lust, and vengeance, Queen of Plagues takes Red Sonja from the depths of her own grave to the heights of battlefield glory.
I do not want to sound like a broken record, but I must stress that I had no idea what I was getting into when I pressed play on Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues. Maybe it is a good thing I do not have anything invested in the long-running Red Sonja series, as it would cloud my judgment if I did. My judgment, in the end, came out to me getting a kick out of the flick, even if there were plenty of bumps along the way.
Anyone who picked up the graphic novel of Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues will know the plot. It is the same story, just in a different medium. What’s nice about this story is that it includes a new backstory for Sonja that explains her character quite nicely. Ever since Sonja was a child, murder, corruption, and betrayal has surrounded her. She manages to overcome these terrible situations and come out the other side a super strong, kickass warrior woman. However, while reacquainting herself with her saviour of many years ago, Red Sonja runs into an old friend by the name of Dark Annisia.
Dark Annisia manages to force Red Sonja to surrender and send her packing to the far north. Unfortunately for Sonja, it is not just the exile that is the problem, but the fact that she is also coming down with the plague. It is here in her dying days that we find out about her past and who Dark Annisia is. Of course, Red Sonja would not be the kickass woman she is if she did not at least try to rise above a measly plague and save an entire city from death. You just need to make sure she has enough time to have a drink or two before the big battle.
Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues is not a dull movie, much in thanks to the story by Gail Simone and the artwork by Walter Geovani. However, there are issues in translating this epic story to a moving medium. First off, there are plenty of areas where the animation zooms in and the quality of the picture degrades. This gives the movie a more filmlike quality, but the constant bouncing back and forth between high-resolution art and low-grade art can be distracting.
Secondly, some of the dialogue that Gail Simone has written doesn’t work out so well when spoken by the actors. Although, it could very well be that most of the voice actors are terrible, save for Misty Lee, who plays Red Sonja. Mostly everyone else comes across like stock video game characters, which is a damn shame.
However, even with some sketchy voice acting and art issues, Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues was a joy to sit through. It is an action-packed tale that doesn’t slow down one bit. It is inevitable that some people will raise at stink at the medium chosen to tell the story, but give it a chance, and I think you will get a kick out of it.
This is not the first time Shout! Factory has dabbled in the motion graphic medium. They originally had a healthy amount of releases based on several Marvel Knights graphic novels. However, that eventually stopped and Shout! Factory went looking for any other companies that would be interested in continuing. It just so happened that Dynamite was one of those companies and Shout! Factory got pretty excited when they found out that Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues was one of the stories they could develop, which brings this long spew to the fact that we now have it on Blu-ray (also DVD for “those” people).
If you are wondering if a motion comic will look good on Blu-ray, it certainly can when the art is not low resolution. When the proper sizing shows up on screen, the artwork and colours by Walter Geovani pop. If the good parts are any indicator as to how it can look on Blu-ray, I would not mind getting more films like this down the road.
On to the other part that people who love Blu-ray are always wondering about: audio. Well, save for the ear-aching voice acting, it is not bad. I heard no distortion, hissing or weak dialogue-although maybe that last part would not be so bad. For anyone that is tech curious, the film’s audio is in English DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo.
As for special features, you are getting one 18-minute long ‘Making of’ that features interviews with producer Brian Ward, Gail Simone and Misty Lee. It is an enjoyable sit-down, and you get to see some behind the scenes with a couple of actors voicing characters.
Making of Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues (18-mins approx)
Fans of the graphic novel should get a pretty cool kick out of seeing their favourite book come to life so to speak. However, even if you have not heard much about the character before (like me), you will still get some enjoyment out of this action-packed tale.