9.17.2012

Don't Dread Dredd.

DREDD 3D (2012)
Image from flicksandbits.com.
So here's a funny story. I got two tickets to go see Dredd 3D for free. It was an early screening and one of the actors, Wood Harris, would be there. So I thought, why not? I figured it would be a decent, action-packed, sci-fi flick with a lot of gorgeous Lena Headey.

I was wrong. It was an excellent action-packed, sci-fi flick with a lot of gorgeous Lena Headey.

Being a BAMF.
Let me explain. It's been a long, long time since I've seen a solid, airtight action movie. Action movies these days (especially sci-fi action) always have one, creaky wheel that ruins the rest of the movie. Most of the time, they load up their budget on special effects and 3D eye-candy and forget that they actually need a script. This results in high-profile names, an exciting trailer, and the disappointment of fans everywhere when they find out that it was nothing but 90 minutes of empty dialogue from empty characters. Other times, the concept is promising, the talent is promising, but they just try too hard to remake the wheel. It's come to the point where I just about pee myself with glee when I find a solid, good movie. It doesn't need to be great. It doesn't need to an artistic masterpiece. I just want to walk into the movie theater, sit down, and enjoy my money's worth.

Dredd delivers. And then some. The really great thing about Dredd is that they don't try to remake the wheel. The concept is bare-bones simple: in a world where crime runs rampant, two Judges get locked into mob territory and have to fight their way out. Done. No social political agenda, nothing particularly philosophical or mindfucky to see here. Just a couple of consistent characters, some balls-to-the-wall action, and complete lack of plot holes. Can I get an amen?

Let's start off with the man himself. Dredd. Dredd is played by Karl Urban, but you wouldn't know it since he spends the whole time behind a mask speaking in his Batman voice. Dredd is kind of what you imagine RoboCop might look like if he became mildly suicidal and bled his sadomasochistic tendencies by putting holes in bad guy's heads. Basically, what RoboCop might've looked like if Jason Statham took on the role. Only Dredd is a man of the law...at least, a man of whatever law there is left to protect. For that reason alone, he is a sympathetic character and keeps us on his team. That, and the fact that he's never at loss for a smart, growled comeback. 

Image from collider.com.
Dredd gets teamed up with Anderson, AKA: Rookie. Anderson is played by Olivia Thirlby, an actress who I have only now gotten acquainted with and who is officially in my good book. She takes the role and owns it. While she's got a nice, subtle feminine quality to her, she can also look intimidating as shit with the right, icy dialogue under her tongue. Anderson is not only Dredd's beating heart, but also his brain--thanks to radioactive fallout, she's a mutant in a fucked-up society. A psychic. Which comes in handy and saves her ass, along with Dredd's, every step of the way. She pulls her own weight time and again and together, they make an unstoppable team.

Well. Almost unstoppable. Enter my personal, biased favorite: Mama. It's no secret that I'm a giant Lena Headey fan and she, once more, proved to be exceptionally badass. A little backstory on the character: Mama is an ex-prostitute who got her face slashed by a John and from then on, decided to take her anger out on the world. She became a mob-leader of the Mama Clan and kicked the asses of every other clan in her side of town. She's a bloodthirsty, drug addicted mob leader and takes absolutely no prisoners. In short: she's Dredd's dark side. She's just as violent and stubborn as he is, only she's on the other side of the law. This makes her a perfect villain for this movie and amps up the tension tenfold. 

So...where can I get me some Slo-Mo?
Which brings us to "Slo-Mo," the drug that Mama's Clan pushes. Slo-Mo makes things...well. Slow. So maybe it's not a particularly creative name, but it's a creative drug. I should start this off by saying I am an avid hater of slow-motion. Seriously. I would ban slow motion in all films if I could. I hate "emotional slow motion," when someone falls to their knees and makes stupid, agonized faces. I hate dramatic slow motion. I hate romantic slow motion. If you want me to feel something, slowing it to impossible speeds just irritates me, it doesn't make me feel any harder. 

However, there are a couple exceptions to my slow motion hate--and this is one of them. If it's used artistically in an action sequence, I can stomach it. In Dredd, they took "artistic action sequence" to a whole other level. I saw camera angles I don't remember seeing, ever. Just wait for the final fall from grace. Slow, detailed, blood-splattering, face-crushing goodness. I'm there. That said, there was nothing over-the-top and artsy about it. The creative visuals kept in time with the action and didn't interrupt the flow; instead, it worked with the script to build a unique, stunning visual experience. 

Image from moviecarpet.com.
With the lively characters, the sharp dialogue, and the eye-candy action, Dredd is just a good, solid, shoot-'em-up. If you want a movie theater experience you that will not only leave you satisfied but also really fucking pumped, I highly suggest checking this one out. Plus. Lena Headey.

18 comments:

  1. Excellent write-up! Can't wait to see this on Friday.

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    1. Thanks! It was definitely a good one, I highly enjoyed.

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    2. It was Awesome! This is the real Dredd. It destroys the Sly version. "Ma-Ma's not the law...I AM THE LAW!"

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    3. YES! Is all I can say to that awesomeness.

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  2. Wow, I was already sort of perked up to it since the early reviews have been great but this review just made me pretty pumped for it! This has to be one of the most unexpectedly well received films this year for sure.

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    1. I'm glad! And I agree completely, I definitely did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did!

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  3. Not really a fan of the cheesy original, but I can't wait to check this one out - it looks stunningly gritty and action-packed! So my cup of tea! Excellent review!

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    1. Thanks! It really is a great one, I can't wait to see what you say about it!

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  4. Yes, yes, and yes! Just saw this today. And while I'm just a very, very slightly disappointed (due to reviews I expected a perfect 10/10 film, and got "only" an 8/10) I enjoyed it thoroughly. This is bar none the best pure action film this year so far.

    Basically I agree on every single thing said in the review, save one: "...and complete lack of plot holes."

    One thing stuck out as a possible plot hole. Anderson said the helmet dampens her psychic abilities, yet she manages to read Dredd's emotions at the beginning, as well as the rouge female judge's near the end.

    Of course, it can be argued that wearing a helmet herself inhibits her from using her powers, but when other people wear it, it doesn't prevent her from penetrating into their heads.

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    1. I'm ridiculously late, but JUST NOW getting back to my comments. 8/10 isn't bad at all! I gave it a 4/5, so that's basically the same review score. And I agree with you--in terms of action, definitely best, most beautiful action of the year.

      And...you caught me...definite plothole! I'd say I was way to distracted by the slo-mo to notice anything. I'm sure there were things that didn't make sense but, for an action movie (which are usually pretty all over the place), this was a surprisingly put-together movie. Save the helmet shenanigans.

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  5. I thoroughly enjoyed this, more than I should have legitimately done. The Slow-Mo was a bit cheesy I thought and was perhaps there to justify the 3-D, but overall the film was bone-crunchingly enjoyable, gloriously violent and had a great booming soundtrack. Really good fun.

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    1. Every other time, I'd agree with you that the Slow-Mo was cheesy. I hate slow motion. No matter what. Slow motion and 3D. Two things I couldn't hate more. However, for some reason, I was not only able to stomach it in this movie, but actually enjoyed it. Apparently, this one and the Matrix are the only two that have been able to get away with slow motion in my eyes.

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  6. Great fun this! Totally wipes out the Dredded Stallone version. I think Lena just rocks as a badass. Let's here it for kick ass female villains, yo!

    The only thing lacking is seeing my beautiful Karl Urban's face. Or some of that delicious bod of his. They should have had Dredd on a day off taking a shower. LOL

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    Replies
    1. Yes! Lena is a true, hardcore badass. Word to that!

      And I definitely forgot halfway through that that was Karl Urban. It doesn't even sound like him! Now I'm getting images of Dredd showing with his helmet on...

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  7. Well the movie and pics are really cool.

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