Sunday, September 23, 2012
Dredd 3D (2012) Theatrical Release
Review: You know it's been a good couple of years for comic movies. The creators take the source material seriously, they get good actors, write decent stories and film good movies. That wasn't always the case, you got a Spider-Man 3 or a Batman and Robin WAY more than you got a Dark Knight or a X-Men 2. This year alone has been pretty great for people who love their comics in live action on the big screen.
Dredd is another great comic book movie. The characters are played well, the pacing is spot on, there's good drama and the action is top notch. Karl Urban WORKS as Dredd, his attitude, his voice, his body language, everything he does brings the character to life. The best part is we never see his face without the mask. Something that's incredibly important to the character of Judge Dredd. His voice over introduction as well as the opening arrest establish the character as a bad ass without anyone TELLING you he's a bad ass. In fact only once does one character say "Do you know who you're messing with..." when referring to Dredd. It gives the impression that ALL Judges are as bad ass as Dredd, he's nothing special that just what you get when you deal with a Judge.
Olivia Thirlby is the buddy to his cop in the form of Judge Anderson. She's described as having just missed the mark in becoming an actual Judge but is being given a second chance due to her unique psychic ability. She's introduced by reading Dredd's mind through a two way mirror while she sits in an observation room. She describes Dredd as "Controlled, angry and...something else behind the anger. Pure..." and then she get's cut off. It made me curious as to what that could be in Dredd. What could she be referring to? I suppose you're made to put your own interpretation in there. I like to think of Dredd as lawful evil. So the pure Anderson is referring to is evil. But it's a controlled, constructive evil. Like a Dexter but infinitely more bad ass.
She does great as the psychic rookie to Dredd's serious veteran. They have good chemistry and work well together. Lena Heady is pretty intimidating as Ma-Ma as well. She's the crime boss that incites the attack on the Judges when she fears her drug empire is about to crumble. She behaves like an intelligent, remorseless, crazy junkie. Just like Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby that performance comes through in everything she does.
This was the second 3d movie I've ever been to (Avengers being the first) and maybe I'm getting more used to the 3d but it seemed to be better implemented here than in the Avengers. In Avengers there were times when things were moving to fast for the 3d to be effective which led to me being pulled out of the experience. This film doesn't have any of that. The pace is never faster than the 3d will allow and in fact when the movie slows down (due the influence of the Slow-Mo drug) that's when the 3d really pops and comes to life. It's also when the violence get's the most graphic. Man does this thing earn it's R rating. The violence in this is incredibly real, graphic and ugly. This isn't the romanticized version of violence with a stop of red and a splash of blood. This is cheeks being blown open to reveal the shattered jaw of the victim, skin rippling under the force of the hit, faces deforming as they get crushed by impact. It's an ugly violence that makes you recoil at the sight. But it's also incredibly effective in it's use.
As I'm sure everyone knows by now the plot is being compared to The Raid a lot. I went and got The Raid last week in preparation of seeing Dredd. They are totally different movies with a few similarities. The comparison is like saying Dark Knight is exactly like Batman (1989) and therefor Dark Knight is a lesser, invalid movie. Bullshit. While the plots share some incredibly basic similarities the tone, the pacing and the action is completely different. The Raid is a more desperate movie with lots of protracted hand to hand fight scenes. But good guys die at a pretty fast pace in The Raid and the fight scenes can get a little long. There is also very little characterization in The Raid. You have knowledge of a few characters but those characters don't really have what you would call an 'arc'. In Dredd you have Anderson go through a pretty convincing character arc and you watch her change as the movie progresses until she becomes a different person in the end. Ma-Ma goes through a small arc as well as she slowly loses control of her block. Dredd mostly stays the same, he was Dredd when it started and he was Dredd when it ended. His feelings changed about the rookie but as a person Dredd stays intact with no real character movement. But it works for Dredd because that's the source material. Dredd progresses very little, he more enables the people around him to change.
This is a great movie and a good one to catch in theaters, in 3d. I will definitely be getting this the day it comes out on Blu-Ray and I hope it becomes a franchise because the biggest fault of this movies was there wasn't enough of it. It lost a star from me because there just wasn't enough of the movie and there wasn't enough of the futuristic setting. I realize it was due to budget constraints but it didn't leave me satisfied, I wanted more. A perfect movie leaves you wanting more but also satisfied with the conclusion. I just wasn't satisfied, I wanted to be in that theater for at least another half hour watching Dredd and Anderson do their thing. Alright, all that being said, check it out, it's worth it and hopefully at some point we'll see another movie, a video game and action figures because I'd buy every single one of those.