Friday, 11 February 2011

'Red Sonja' turns to Amber - and heads West...?

Yeesh... what am I thinking with that headline? Please excuse me.

So this is one of those good news, bad news things. Empire announced today that the ball looks set to roll again on the new Red Sonja movie. This is good news. They also say that the favourite for the role is Amber Heard. While she wouldn't be my first choice - we all know it should be Christina Hendricks, for crying out loud - this is still pretty good news. But then they mention that the director lined up is Simon West. No, no, no!

Now, I'll admit I haven't had a chance to see West's latest, his remake of The Mechanic with Jason Statham. I hear it's okay. I'll also admit I am a big fan of gloriously absurd Con Air, though I also hear that the shoot was troubled and West was not given much say in the final cut (I confess I have nothing to back this up; it'sjust what I heard). But here's the real deal clincher, West's last venture into female-centred fantasy adventure - Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. That film was easily one of the biggest let-downs of the 2000s. All the right ingredients were there: a great character in Lara Croft, and the ideal actress for the role in Angelina Jolie; a decent villian in Iain Glen, and a supporting turn from a pre-Casino Royale Daniel Craig; and a plot that wasn't necessarily weaker than any given blockbuster. But the whole thing came down like a house of cards because there was absolutely no sense of atmosphere, no sense of structure, no sense of pace, and the blame for that has to land at the feet of the director.

Based on what I've seen of her work, I'm sure Amber Heard would make a fine Red Sonja. She exudes a sense of street-smart tough girl which the part obviously demands, in a medieval kinda way, of course; and, let's not beat around the bush, she'd look damn good in a chain mail bikini brandishing a broadsword. (Hmm, suddenly that sounds like a euphamism.) But, once again, West had the best possible actress for Lara Croft, and still managed to balls it up.

In truth, it's hard to feel too optimistic about this movie on the whole. After all, it's being produced by the same people who saw fit to hire Marcus Nispel, the tower of ineptitude behind the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th remakes, to direct Conan The Barbarian. All things considered, it all kinda makes one sad that Robert Rodriguez is no longer involved. Whatever reservations one may have had about his plans - handing the role to Rose McGowan, and the director's chair to a guy who'd done a straight to video Highlander sequel - there's surely more cause for hope with someone as talented as Rodriguez pulling the strings.

And why do I care? Because scantily clad buxom redheads with big fuck-off swords float my boat, that's why. That's reason enough to take this seriously, isn't it...?

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