Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Dredd Ringer for High-Caliber Fun

Stunningly rich visuals and effects in DREDD 3D means guns, violence and a clip-load of exciting street-justice!


Judgment: Badass!
ARTH VADER (AV): Honestly, this movie caught me COMPLETELY off guard! I had heard this movie was in production about eight (8) months ago but didn't really appreciate what was coming. That might be because complex, dark characters like Judge Dredd, Lady Death and Lobo are highly volatile stories that take balls, brawn and backing to bring to life on the silver screen. This movie was a gritty, fun ride of horrific violence peppered with thoughtful plunges into the Mega-City's corrosive violence. This movie was a far better movie-going experience than Stallone's outing for me, Pontificator

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Agreed on that Vader. I like Stallone, but there is really no comparison. Judge Dredd has been around for a long time... and there have been a multitude of stories presented. I’m not aware that the events in the film follow a particular storyline, but this film certainly captured the spirit with which I have always seen Dredd presented in print.


AV: With all due respect to Karl Urban, Kate Thrilby and Lena Headey–who delivered stellar performances–I want to wind-sprint straight to the direction here, Ponty! The cinematography in this movie was HOT! Visually over-the-top with ass-kicking camera angles and 3D frame shots that (finally!) take full advantage of the 3D effects. The movie began and ended with high level views of Mega-City lowered the audience into the ugliness of curbside life in this horrific post-apocalyptic cesspool. Fantastic light painting of the sets (lights and shadows) and the sheer depth of PeachTrees tower (the primary location of the film's events) gave me chills and left  feeling fascinated and repulsed by immersing me high into a monolithic super-high-rise. 

Pretty In Black
TP: Noted and agreed Vader... so let me address the acting. I think it was an excellent choice to cast Karl Urban as Dredd. I’ve always thought him a capable character actor and he certainly got into character playing Dredd. Olivia Thirby was a great offset to the grim and serious Dredd as the newby Judge-in-testing, Anderson. I thought Lena Headey (Ma-Ma) could have been more sinister and menacing to show why she was deserving of such fear from her subordinates. However, I found the totality of the performances, by everyone in the film, to be very well done and with the steady and fast paced directing, this movie had a flow that swept me along.

AV: While there was no Kate Beckinsale, this movie had a lot going for it, especially in the realm of visual effects. The stunning cityscapes, the impressive fire-fights and the over-the-top gore in the movie's SF/X shots made this movie deeply entertaining. The scenes of bodies being tossed over 1km high balconies–and their subsequent impacts after–along with drug-induced perspectives of the victims make this movie a violently fun experience. My favorite scene was of Dredd's bullets tearing through the face of a doped-up baddie as it shreds his face exposing gums jaw and bone as the bullet goes careening into the viewer's temple. A beautifully disturbing masterstroke of 3D cleverness! 

"No, no, not the paint gun of judgment!"
TP: The special effects were absolutely fabulous. This was, without a doubt, the best use of 3D to date. The movie started off in 3D and unlike most films, stayed that way throughout. This was a perfect example of learning and perfecting all of the lessons and technology that has come before. The 3D leapt off the screen and the use of slow motion, so prominently platformed in the Matrix movies, was taken to new heights in both it’s look and use. I’m sure there was CGI in this film...I just don’t now where it was used! Everything looked real, and that’s exactly what’s supposed to happen when the lights go out.


AV: As I alluded to earlier, Judge Dredd is a terrific fantsy/sci-fi property that has a very difficult concept to portray. With punk-era underpinnings in the cultish cool British science rag 2000 AD, Dredd has always been a tough sell to mainstream audiences. The lollipop 1995 version that starred Sly Stallone did introduce the character to mainstream movie goers, but did little to make a lasting imprint. Sadly, for different reasons, this movie will suffer the same fate. Lack of star-power, an unrecognizable story and character and shuffling in during a summer where there has been a ton of terrific sci-fi releases. Over-the-top violence and a laughable first release 17 years earlier my be too much for this movie to overcome to even have passive success at the box office. Too bad, because this movie is a thrill. 

Too bad Dredd's box office performance wasn't this explosive...
TP: I looked for flaws, I really did... and the only ones I saw were in my own personal preference for how I thought a couple of things should have gone. I think when a call comes in from a Judge that they are under attack (especially if it’s the great Dredd calling), more than two Judges should show up and they should not have an ear for anything anyone has to say until they resolve the issue. I found it odd that the other Judges so easily accepted the explanation that there was a malfunction. The other quip is that once they reached the programmer responsible for the building functions, why would they not open the entire building up right then... and allow more help inside? Instead they let him go and continue to pursue Ma-Ma... while leaving the building sealed up. Other than that, this film had plenty of action, humor if you were sick enough to “get it” and even a touch of genuine drama. The “R” rating almost certainly limited the audience willing to see it, but was absolutely necessary to remain a true gem with accurate representation.


"Well, this is awkward..."
AV: Judge Dredd is an ongoing saga of brutal justice served in a brutal society. It allows us to view into what drives men to do what they do–even if they are keepers of the law. When you are given free-reign to act of your own free will, what are the consequences of that life when you are put in highly traumatic situations. Given the intensity and creativity and on-screen presence of this movie, a host of future installments is not only possible, but to this humble fan-boy, would be welcome. The sobering reality though, is that movie–this story–just, ever-so-slightly, misses the mark to be a true a mainstream commodity and that will prove to be the one adversary the powerfully determined Judge Dredd simply can't overcome. However, I plead with the studios, please continue to try! 

TP: I can only hope that this movie generates enough revenue and/or a following to merit another ride. There is so much that can be done in Mega City One... not to mention pursuing the problem of dirty Judges (can you say the Dark Judges?).

ARTH VADER rates Dredd 3D (2012): Down to it's DNA, Dredd 3D is badass. It's gritty, violent view of a toxic future where fearsome 'street judges' represent the only law is a hugely popular idea that has captured the imagination of fans since 1977. The sobering reality is this movie has no traction with mainstream audiences (grossing just $6.7 million in its first week) and that is a sad fate for such a cool dude. Fun, frightening and thrilling 3D effects, makes Dredd the must-see sleeper hit of the 2012 summer. So I saddle-up on my "Lawmaster" motorbike and ride off into the heart of Mega-City 1 to dispense justice in the form of 8 busted blocks.

THE PONTIFICATOR Rates Dredd 3D (2012): Anyone not seeing this movie should be arrested for obstruction of a great film. Gratuitous violence, awesome special effects and a character that makes Punisher and Batman seem reasonable should be more than enough for any jury. Sentence: eight (8) busted blocks... without the possibility of parol.

DREDD 3D: 8 Busted Blocks

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