November 17, 2014

Cheapskate Film Festival - DREDD

Sometimes, Hollywood gets it right and remakes a bad movie.....or even, to use current slang, a "hard reboot" of a "franchise".

Remember that movie with Sylvester Stallone as Judge Dredd, with Rob Schneider as his wacky sidekick? Well, you can now easily forget about it, because it's been remade as Dredd, with Karl Urban in the title role, and quite frankly, this is a much better movie.

Now admittedly, I have a strong bias towards the character - I was getting imported 2000 AD comics simply to check out the character. A satirical, justice-dispensing anti-hero in the height of the 1980s, Judge Dredd worked in a world that was like our own, but with a sharper, cynical edge. Mixing high concept (addictive candy) with strange pop culture (a martial arts hero named "Stan Lee" in Mega-City One), the Dredd strip was the kind of comic that is rarely seen. Intelligent, of the best British comics ever made.

Dredd lacks that satirical element (unless you count Lena Hedley as a character named "Mama"), but this is a well-directed movie. Originally shown in 3D, certain sequences simply sparkle without the additional dimension. (The plot involves a drug that slows perception of time, and those sequences are shot beautifully). Urban does a wonderful job in the role, bringing a down-to-earth, grim perspective to a character who is pretty much on one note. (And that note is "I Am The Law".) Olivia Thrilby does a really good job as Dredd's partner, Judge Anderson, and both carry a film that is one of the most criminally underrated action movies of recent years.

My only disappointment - they didn't have a scene in which Dredd and Anderson beat up Rob Schneider. But thankfully, Dredd ignores the previous attempt at filming the character, and really provides a great debut that....well, I don't know how it did at the box office, but I really hope there's a sequel.

We need more films like Dredd. Seriously.

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