Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report readers. After conducting two detailed interviews with Roel Reine, one about Hard Target 2 and one about Marvel's Inhumans:
I was very interested in viewing his epic Redbad film. The film is an embellished account of the life of Redbad the King, although this mainly tells the story of his rise to power. Wikipedia gives an historical account of his rule, though since it was 1300 years ago, not as much is known. Most of the struggles were lead against the impending Christian rule. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redbad,_King_of_the_Frisians
Historical significance aside, Roel again uses artistry and imagery to tell a compelling story. Again this was an entirely Dutch production with mainly Dutch actors and a budget of only around 9 million Euros (APPX 10.5 mil USD) Comparing that to Alexander which was released in 2004, adjusted for inflation the budget would be around 200mil, it was already 155mil. To make a massive scale historical drama on this budget is quite impressive. Sadly due to poor release schedule, Summertime, virtually zero promotion, the movie was a bomb, garnering only 400,000euros in the box office. Many factors played into it, even if it was released in the winter, Redbad probably would have struggled to make back it's entire budget smaller country, huge budget. Ultimately, Epic pictures in the U.S. Picked it up for home DVD release.
Redbad is two hours and forty minutes, however Roel stated that more was filmed and it aired in it's entirety of four nights on TV. The DVD contains some behind the scenes, but for the USA, it was limited, and again I felt that more needed to be put on there, perhaps a 2 disc set. I liken the release to the John Woo epic film Red Cliff, which he split into two separate films, a total of 4.5 hours yet when it came to the theaters in the USA it was under 3 hours, and combined as one film. By chopping this much off Red Cliff, the audiences watching the USA version were not treated to a large portion of the story development. Redbad has that same feel, yeah it is long, epic, but needed the complete story.
The acting in Redbad is quite good. Gijs Naber portrays Redbad, quietly and understated, again this film is about his initial banishment and rise to prominence. Basically prior to his long reign as King. Loes Haverkort as Frea and Lisa Smit as Fenne, are very pro actors. Actually there is many battle sequences and a balance of action is added with a female warrior. Special mention goes to Malin Kirjonen http://www.malinkirjonen.com/ wow she put in some epic action. Currently she is doubling Milla Jovovich for Monster Hunter.
The story is a bit weak, but it is hard to tell what was written vs what was ultimately filmed. Difficult to judge. Perhaps Redbad would have worked as a limited series better than a film, which was released as four episodes. The dialogue is in Dutch with English subs for an obvious push towards the U.S. Release. Perhaps the best part of the writing occurred prior to a young Redbad being banished, as little is known historically about his very young life, thus writer Alex van Galen, was very creative and dramatic. A great story build up.
Once again Roel, who is both Cinematographer and Director proves his mettle. The film is aesthetically well framed, many wire cameras, drones and tricks to be able to completely maximize a very small, relatively to scope budget film. Many of the battles are during the day, and it is not about the detailed conflict but the scope. The look of the film reminded me of Neil Marshall's Centurion. The actors are on point an prepared. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Roel was given a 20 mil budget. He directed the IMAX episodes of Inhumans, and is also directing episodes of the upcoming Wu Assassins for Netflix! Roel also writes some of the music for his film and has performances on a modular synth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WFiqj5g_oM very diverse talent.
Back to Redbad, overall the film should please fans of historical and foreign films. There is some action, again though it is not an action film. Honestly, Redbad is a difficult sell to much of the U.S.A., as seems are attention spans are too short. The film is good, and deserves to be seen by a wider audience, and rates a 7 out of 10. Amazon prime members in the U.S. can watch the film through the service with no extra charge.