Tag Archives: Alex Garland

“Dredd” movie review

If it’s September, that must mean that we’re due a 3D action movie or two to lead us gently into the more reflective Autumn season and transition gently from the explosive mayhem of the summer – whilst I wait for the next instalment in the Capcom derived video game-to-movie franchise which dare not speak its name at the end of the month, these early weeks are taken care of by “Dredd“, director Pete Travis and writer Alex Garland‘s attempt to give this iconic comics anti-hero a film worthy of his stature.

He is the law.

And what a film it is – lean, hungry, mind-bogglingly violent, stylish and thrifty, “Dredd” is the kind of sci-fi western that you feel as much as watch, with brutal action sequences and melee combat having a positively visceral effect when viewed in the 3D format that this film is primarily releasing in (there’s controversy in the UK about how few cinemas are playing the 2D prints – only one of Britain’s Multiplex chains are showing it).  Any worries that we might have had about whether this film would be as disappointing as the 1995 Sylvester Stallone/Danny Cannon iteration are comprehensively erased by what is a confident, stylish action movie which makes a virtue of a lower budget and creates a uniquely convincing world.

Not having $200 million dollars to throw at expensive CG and gargantuan action sequences has made this version of “Judge Dredd” get creative and construct its post-apocalyptic world in modern-day Cape Town.  There are the huge city blocks of the comic, but they’re nestled in against a resolutely practical and contemporary backdrop  – highways and overpasses, contemporary vehicles and clothing all stop this film from distancing the casual viewer.

Don’t let her inside your head! Olivia Thirlby as rookie Judge Anderson in “Dredd”

The plot is as straight-ahead as it gets – a gang-related murder in the Peach Trees block is attended by taciturn law man legend Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and ride-along rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), pitching them head-first into conflict with hooker-turned-syndicate crime maven Ma Ma (Lena Headey), whose drug empire is run from the building and whose army of heavily armed thugs are intent on stopping legal interference in whatever form it takes.

That simplicity, in essence, is one of the best things about this film – The plot single-mindedly concentrates on propelling the action forward and the script focusses on making the world convincing rather than in beating the viewer around the head with distracting gadgets and surface detail to hide the fact that there isn’t much of a story.  This film doesn’t reinvent sci-fi cinema as you know it, but it does a brilliant job of making this post-apocalypse world seem like a postcard from the future – the tech is all backdrop rather than foreground, showing up periodically to let Dredd do something cool and doesn’t draw undue attention to itself.

Urban is great as the titular bad-ass, finding a way to make the character funny without getting mired in cheap one-liner schtick and showing some holes in the metaphorical armour that his otherwise imperious icon of justice wears – a Dredd who bleeds and occasionally needs to think on his feet to get through the hellish multi-level fight through the under-siege building he finds himself occupying is infinitely preferable to the one-man killing-and-quipping machine that the Stallone version gave us.  Olivia Thirlby is great too as Anderson – there’s a fantastic scene which gives her psychic gifts ample room to roam and we get to see how she would interrogate and intimidate a perp into silence – it’s telling that a scene where a bad guy gets the upper hand on her doesn’t convince entirely as being anything other than a plot contrivance as up till that point in the movie, her neophyte Judge has shown that she has the right stuff and wouldn’t necessarily get suckered in the way that she was.

The 3D is a selling point, but I found it restrained for the most part – used sympathetically to inhabit the scenes where futuristic crankers are on the ‘Slo-Mo’ drug which slows down time for the user but not employed to constantly chuck sharp objects at the viewer or as a way to distract viewers from creaky storytelling.  There’s a climactic scene which employs the broken glass trope of action cinema in a curiously beautiful and aesthetically pleasing way – is it worth the price hike?  I’m not sure, but it is native 3D rather than post-converted shenanigans, so let that guide your ticket-buying choice.

This is a fine, stripped-down action movie with an intriguing take on the iconic character and the future-shock world he inhabits – I hope that it leads to more adventures for the 2000 AD law man and that all concerned behind the camera find a way to retain the tactile near-future dystopia they’ve delivered so credibly in this very entertaining film.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Films, Geekery

New “Dredd 3D” clip busts perps, ripples flesh…

You’ve watched the trailer and can now see a brief clip from the new Dredd 3D” on the film’s official site.

Image

Any fears we may have had that the makers of the film were watering down the content to appeal to a mainstream, PG-13 audience has just been well and truly slammed int0 an ISO-Cube for seven years, I think we can conclusively say.  The Cannon/Stallone “Dredd” this most certainly isn’t – Empire’s review from the 2012 Comic-Con screening indicates that “Dredd 3D” is very much its own take on the source comics material, for good or ill (Karl Urban‘s great, the low-budget is noticeable, it’s all quite similar to “The Raid”) but the tone is generally complementary.

Image

So much gore!  It’s like director Pete Travis and writer Alex Garland have mainlined a bunch of Paul Verhoeven‘s eighties films, drawn from “2000AD” as though it were the sacred text that some would say it is and then gone to town to deliver the kind of old-school sci-fi actioner that many a fan will yearn for from this film.

I’m almost aggrieved that I have to wait until September to see this – it looks so good!

2 Comments

Filed under Blogs, Films, Geekery, Movie Trailer

“Dredd 3D” trailer is up…if you can find it.

Karl Urban is Judge Dredd in “Dredd 3D” 

Oh, content lock-outs – why do you exist?  All that I want to do is post a link to the in-circulation trailer for this September’s “Dredd 3D” and Lionsgate are being as heavy-handed as a heavy-handed thing in order to block fans (the people who will be buying tickets for this film, regardless of quality) from seeing something that they’ve been waiting years for.

Please explain the logic in that unsatisfactory state of affairs without using the actual truth – “We only care about the American audience” – if you can.

Anyway, I did manage to track down a blurry upload – still there, remarkably – on Daily Motion and I can share my thoughts on it with you.

It looks cheap.  To me, that’s almost a recommendation, as I love my B-movies and this looks very much like an amoral, snarled dialogue, bullets and exploding glass fest of the highest order.  The bits that we see of Karl Urban as Dredd show that he’s very much the right man for the job, with a far more internalised and low-key take on the character than Sylvester Stallone went for in the first adaptation of the legendary 2000 AD anti-hero.

The deal-breaking, has-to-be-there “I Am The Law” line is present and correct – but very much underplayed when compared to Sly’s 1995 histrionics.  Again, this isn’t criticism, more a sign that the interpretation of the character may not be an attempt to court a massive, mainstream audience which seems like a smart play to me – make a film which plays to people who’ll subsequently evangelise to their circle of friends about what they’ve seen and you have the recipe for a sleeper hit which could just cross-over rather than spending  pots of unrecoupable cash on a movie which has to appeal to everybody and satisfies nobody.

The Mega City One of this film looks less authentic than Danny Cannon‘s did in the Stallone film but using real world locations rather than sound-stages might yet pay off and add a patina of reality to a film which might otherwise been awash with wholesale CG imagery.  A blend of the two seems very smart to me – and adds to my desire to see the film.

All in all, a very cautious but emphatic thumbs-up from me.

1 Comment

Filed under Films, Geekery, Movie Trailer

Not Dredd-ful…

Yes, I went there.  Here be terrible puns.

Image

“Which one of you perps said Stallone was better?”

John Wagner, co-creator of Mega-City One’s least socially progressive plod Judge Dredd has seen the new Pete Travis directed film and pronounced it good.  Or not ‘Drokk!’, at least.  Which is nice.

This may go some way towards offsetting some of the bad early buzz about directorial lock-outs from the edit room, behind-the-scenes wrangling, fan worries about early set pictures and that jazz – it would be nice to think that an independently financed production like this could realise this iconic Brit sci-fi anti-hero properly and launch a series of   delightfully dystopian adventures which might get this character some of the attention he deserves.

At least it’s got a year or so head start on the Robocop reboot, which can only be good news for fans of futuristic bad-asses dispensing ironic summary justice.

3 Comments

Filed under Films, Geekery