Journalists

September 24, 2012

Movie Mondays: Dredd

Oh man!!! I think I’m in love!

Title: Dredd
Director: Pete Travis
Writers:
Alex Garland, based on the character created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra
Produced By:
DNA Films
Distributed By:
Entertainment Film Distributors and Lionsgate
Starring:
Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris
Release Date:
September 7, 2012 (The UK) and September 21, 2012 (USA)
MPAA:
Rated R

(BE SURE to click on all images. Then CLICK AGAIN for the highest resolution.  Lots of detail to enjoy!)

The film, based on the comic book series appearing in the British comics “2000AD” and later “Judge Dredd Megazine,” is set in the not too distant future after most of the Earth has been destroyed by a Third World War. Now, in a dystopian future, hundreds of millions of people live in Mega-Cities, this film’s setting of Mega-City One stretching across the East coast. While administering an in-the-field test on a Rookie Judge, Judges Dredd and Anderson get swept up in the middle of gang warfare, stumble upon the biggest drug manufacturing plant in the city, and have to fight to do their duty and escape with their lives.

The premise and list of major characters are both rather minimalistic, good guys trapped in a very claustrophobic environment with A LOT of very hostile baddies, but minimalistic in a good way. It’s got a good Die Hard vibe going on. This allows the story room to grow. Without constantly piling on new plot elements, the characters are given more focus, and the viewer gets to see how they react to the situation and, more importantly, each other.

The characterization is outstanding. Dredd is presented as the cold, calculating, seemingly unfeeling enforcer of a very strict law. As the film progresses, the viewer is shown glimpses of a soft side as he trades quips with Anderson. Also, in one fantastic scene, Anderson gives a little speech justifying her actions and standing up to Dredd, then abruptly walks away. Left alone, Dredd gives an unseen shrugging nod of approval, and it’s the one time in the film his scowling grimace shifts to a scowling upside-down smirk. The viewer is treated to a few nice moments of character building like this one. For instance, learning that the film’s villain, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), has a past that definitely led to her present situation, and seeing that Anderson is a lot tougher than one might initially think.

Thirlby manages to pull off charming, funny, tough, sexy, and badass all at once. Judge Anderson come to life!

That being said, Lena Headey gives a great, creepy, sadistic, scary performance as Ma-Ma. Also, Olivia Thirlby knocks it out of the park as Anderson, who is given the most development of the film. She flawlessly portrays a rookie thrust into the thick of it, coping with how to handle, assess, learn from, and overcome her situation. Karl Urban is pitch-perfect as Judge Dredd. He looks, acts, talks, and carries himself as though the character just stepped off of the page into reality. He nailed the mannerisms and posture in such a way that at times he looked like an illustration given life. The other characters, whether henchmen, lackeys, other villains, or just citizens caught (literally) in the cross-fire, all serve as soundboards for our main three.

Furthermore, as far as portrayals are concerned, this film pretty much nailed the look. This film isn’t based on the comics most are probably familiar with, featuring Judge uniforms with gigantic boots, gloves, pads, and pauldrons. It’s based on the early comics, where Judges looked more like leather-clad Motorcycle cops. It’s all there, from the green pads to the eagle belt buckles and golden shoulder pads. Just add a bit of body armor, by way of protective vests, and you’ve got a nearly perfect recreation of the comics.

It’s friggin’ uncanny how good of a job was done making Judge Dredd a reality!

And most important of all, Karl Urban as Dredd never EVER removes his helmet, which is an incredibly important character trait from the source material. Dredd is not given a relatable face. He is a mirrored visor, attached to a battle-scarred helmet, and a grimace, that only rarely shifts, so that when it does it’s important. What’s impressive about this, aside from faithfulness to the material, is that Urban manages to portray his thoughts and emotions with less than half of his face and without the use of his eyes. He is faceless, much in the same way The Man With No Name is nameless. He is the living embodiment of the law, not merely an enforcer of it…he is the law.

One final point of praise is for the film’s spectacular score. Paul Leonard-Morgan delivers a score that manages to be experimental, minimalistic, sparse, and hard rocking all at the same time. It’s a pulsing, electronic, distorted, beat-filled score reminiscent of Lalo Schifrin (Bullitt, Dirty Harry), John Carpenter (Escape from New York), and most notably Barry De Vorzon (The Warriors). It’s never too little or too much, always emphasizing the action on screen and never hindering or overpowering it.

Now it can’t be all positive. There is always a downside. The drug being manufactured in this film is “Slo-mo,” a drug which drastically slows down the brain’s perception of the passing of time. So, the film has managed to work the use of slow-motion into the plot, which is good. However, the film overuses the slow-motion, which is bad. The first two times the viewer encounters Slo-mo are amazing. Seeing the wind rush by and sweep along the interior of the car, and then again as Ma-Ma splashes in her bathtub, is quite breathtaking. However, the rest of the film overdoes it, where a few moments of slow-motion interspersed with regular speed to depict the action would have been much more effective, the scenes in question just drag on far too long. For instance, (NO SPOILERS) one time Slo-Mo is used to depict a fall. And instead of showing the entirely long and drawn out moment happen in slow-motion, it would have been much more effective and had more of an impact if the film had shown the fall in slow-motion to start, but then switched to regular speed to show the velocity and finality of the situation.

The only other complaint is in regards to the violence. Now, this reviewer is no prude when it comes to blood and gore. But the violence should serve to build atmosphere, and further envelop the viewer within the confines of the world they’re watching. While for the most part, the violence is pitch-perfect and serves its purpose, there are a few moments where it just goes on for too long or becomes too over the top, and devolves into pointless, gratuitous gore.

CLICK ON THIS to see the large version. THEN CLICK IT AGAIN to see just how awesomely detailed this costume is!

Aside from those points of contention, the film is rather phenomenal. It’s a truly fantastic science-fiction action film that combines the graphic violence and elements of dark humor of RoboCop with the grim, gritty atmosphere of Dirty Harry. The creators of the film talked about plans for a sequel and possible trilogy. Personally, this reviewer would love to see that come to fruition.

As an adaptation of the source material, this film deserves a solid 9 out of 10.
As a science-fiction/action film, in general, this film still earns a 9 out of 10!
Go see it!

Aaron Nicewonger
Aaron@comicattack.net
aarongni@gmail.com

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8 Comments


  1. THE SMOKE

    This movie was a solid 10 out of 10!! Iwent to see it twice so far and for me to do that says alot about the film.

    I didn’t mind the slo-mo moments, to me it was giving you what the effect of the drug does to a person.

    I’ve been a Dredd fan since I was in my teens, and this version lived up to all my hopes for a fantastic film.

    Even with the costume, ( which was a worry for me at first) made all the since why it was designed like it was for the movie.

    I can’t stress this enough, to all comic-book and Dredd fans, SUPPORT THIS GREAT ACTION COMIC-BOOK MOVIE!!!



  2. Thanks for the comment THE SMOKE.
    I’m glad to hear that a long-time fan was so pleased by the film.

    I understand what you mean about the Slo-mo. Showing what it does to a person.
    What I mean is that I think it would have been better served, not to dwell on it so long. To show what it does to THEM, and immediately show it as it looks normally. To give a proper comparison.

    And yes! Everyone needs to go support this movie!


    • THE SMOKE

      Thanks Aaron,

      Yes, I felt that the “Slo-mo” drug was to long towards the last chatper (no-spoilers).

      I was very glad that there was no cammpiness and (NO) taking Dredd’s helmet off.

      I truly loved the gritiness of the film and how the violence was in the film. It reminded me of some of the great overseas films are with a Robocop / Starship Troopers(1st movie) feel to it.



  3. RoboCop is indeed great.
    Can’t say I feel the same way about Starship Troopers. But I get what you mean.

    Overseas?
    Where do you hail from, bud?


    • THE SMOKE

      If you check out some of the films from overseas like, Oldboy, Battle Royal, B-13, (Just to name a few) .The action and violence is sometimes over the top. (BUT GREAT!!)

      Dredd is a comic character out of the UK.

      The Dredd movie, did not hold back on all the action or violence.( Unlike the Stallone Dredd)

      Hollywood sometimes like to play it “safe” with certain films. I’m glad they didn’t with Dredd.

      Oh , I have to say as a U.S.Marine, Starship Troopers was a great sci-fi military film!! ( Sorry Aaron).

      You are still the man!!!



      • Oh yeah.
        Battle Royal and District B-13 I’ve seen a few times.
        I especially love B-13. It’s got that oldschool Jackie Chan “no stunt is too crazy” vibe going on.

        Starship Troopers was too silly for me. Also, it completely ruined the entire premise of the book. The book was very serious. And had a totally different point of view.
        The movie was basically a comedy, that parodied the book and 1940s news reels.


        • THE SMOKE

          At the time , I didn’t know about the book, until after the movie.

          Then I wtached the CGI series and got a better understanding on what it was about.

          I look at the STTRPS movie as a stand-alone.

          Getting back to Dredd. I heard depending on how well it does (US and Overseas), they may be two more movies to follow.

          We just have to keep our fingers crossed for that.

          The way I look at it, they can keep putting out these Resident Evil movies, so Dredd should get a chance for at least two more movies.



  4. The word is that Dredd needs to bring in approx. 50million in the US to secure plans to greenlight a sequel.
    Apparently, the idea was for a trilogy:
    MOVIE 1- a small scale introductory film
    MOVIE 2 – a more epic-scale story based on the stories “Origins” and “America”
    MOVIE 3 – full scale sci-fi action epic about Judge Death and the Dark Judges

    But it doesn’t look like its gonna make enough.

    I agree that if the lame asa RE movies keep getting sequels, good films like Dredd should get sequels too.
    But the RE movies make money. Dredd isn’t making the money it needs.



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