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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Red Sonja: Queen Of Plagues (Blu-ray)
Red Sonja: Queen Of Plagues (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory // Unrated // August 2, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted July 26, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

First things first: Red Sonja: Queen Of Plagues is not a fully animated feature. It is a motion comic that adapts the storyline written by Gail Simon and illustrated by Walter Geovani that was published in traditional comic book form by Dynamite Entertainment. Motion comics aren't everyone's cup of tea, but when they're done well, they can be pretty interesting. Thankfully, this one is done well.

The story begins at the end of a bloody and harsh battle where we meet the victors, King Dimath and his son who free the surviving prisoners held captive in a dank and dreary dungeon. One of these survivors is Red Sonja. Sometime later, Sonja is approached by some of Dimath's emissaries who request on his behalf her help in training some of his soldiers to better defend his kingdom. Recently, it seems, there are those who would usurp the throne from his command and he aims to put a stop to these Zamorans invaders.

Sonja, owing Dimath a debt for his freeing her earlier in the story, obliges. She trains whoever will allow her and before you know it, has done what she can for Dimath's troops. On the opposing side, Dark Annisia, a woman with whom Sonja has a past, prepares the Zamoran's for battle. As we leran about Sonja and Annisia's past and how that past literally haunts Sonja's former comrade in arms, things become even more complex when Dimath is murdered and Sonja contracts the dreaded plague…

Walter Geovani translates to the animated facelift it receives here well enough. There's movement within what are basically panels, though this is not fluid, complete animation. The colors look fantastic here and the details that is inherent in the original penciling comes through nicely as well. This was an attractive looking comic when it was first published and so it stands to reason that it would look just as good in this form. As to the story itself, Simone has proven herself to be one of the best writers around when it comes to writing believable characters, male or female, and she brings that knack for personality to Red Sonja in a big way. Sonja's got a sense of humor, she's quick with her wit, but so too is she strong, sexy and powerful. She's established early on as enough of a bad ass that we have no questions as to why Dimath might ask her to help him as he does, while the backstory that exists between she and the equally interesting Annisia fills in some of the character's origin points nicely. This is a good read, it delivers what you'd want out of a sword and sorcery comic: great characters, fantastic settings, monsters, action, violence, sex appeal and just a whole lot of big, bold and bloody fun.

As to the voice acting, Sonja sounds good here, very committed to what's happening and engaged in the storyline. The rest of the characters are a bit more hit or miss, with some of the voice talent sounding uninterested. A bit more enthusiasm here would have probably helped things out a bit, but aside from that, this is solid entertainment. Simone's storytelling is top notch, Geovani's artwork shines and while some will no doubt lament the fact that this is not a full animated feature film, Red Sonja: Queen Of Plagues offers up seventy-five minutes of solid entertainment.

The DVD:

Video:

Red Sonja: Queen Of Plagues arrives on Blu-ray in a nice AVC encoded 1.78.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer that replicates the art style well. This is a softer looking presentation than some might be accustomed to but it's in keeping with the original illustrations. There aren't any compression artifacts and as this was all done digitally, there are no issues with print damage. Some scenes and frames look noticeably softer than others for some reason but the colors are bright, bold and often times very beautiful and there's nary a trace of compression or edge enhancement to note.

Sound:

The only audio option provided is an English DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo mix, there's no five channel option here, surprisingly enough. Generally the audio is pretty good, particularly when it comes to the effects and the score but there are some spots where the dialogue gets a bit buried. Otherwise, the levels are properly balanced throughout and there are no audible defects, the audio really helps enhance the presentation quite a bit and the powers that be at Shout! Factory has done great work here and there are times where you won't even notice the absence of any rear channel activity. Optional subtitles are provided in English.

Extras:

The only extra on the disc is a featurette that interviews writer Gail Simone voice actress Misty Lee and producer Brian Ward. It's just over eighteen minutes in length and here we learn about how Geovani's artwork was animated in the form that we see in the feature, how Simone feels about writing the character and about this particular arc and a fair bit more. There's some behind the scenes footage included here too. Menus and chapter stops are also included. As this is a combo pack, a DVD release is included inside the Blu-ray keepcase that contains identical extras to those found on the Blu-ray disc. The case itself fits inside a cardboard slipcase.

Final Thoughts:

Red Sonja: Queen Of Plagues won't win over those who can't get into motion comics but if you enjoy the format, this is a good one. The artwork looks fantastic here and Simone's run on Sonja, which started with this storyline, is rightly held in high regard. There aren't a ton of extras here but the featurette is interesting and the A/V presentation is nice. Recommended for fans of the concept and Red Sonja fanatics, a fine rental for everyone else.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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