Saturday, September 8. 2012
Dredd is released almost only in 3D. If you don't like 3D and want a 2D version prepare to hunt around or wait for it on DVD or similar. That, plus the effects of SloMo, the drug that the junkie-bad guys are pushing - it gives you a short burst where your brain runs at 100X speed so you see everything in extreme slow motion - gives the film a variety of quite spectacular shots. The part where Ma Ma is in the bath and lifts her arm, watching the water cascading off under the effects of SloMo is beautiful - not an adjective I anticipated using about this. I have to say that unlike some films I've seen, the 3D in this seemed somewhat understated and a lot more watchable for that. There were scenes where it was obvious but it was never intrusive for me. Whether that improved use of the tool will generalise I'm not sure but it's a good indication that it is starting to become a tool that supports film-making rather than the hook for the film.
If you're an aficionado of the comics you might wonder what's happened to Mega City One. It's a much more cyber-punk, 100 years ahead, sort of look rather than a 250 years ahead high-tech world. That didn't particularly bother me and it is a very small part of the story but it could jar. If you don't know Mega City One from the comics, they explain the situation well enough that it works and I suspect it probably looks OK as a future city if you don't have other expectations of it. I didn't find it too bad (it's been 15 years or more since I read 2000AD though) watching it, but chatting about it afterwards, there were things missing that didn't leap out at me but I wouldn't have minded seeing.
And while we're on a negative comments kick, in the posters and trailers I was somewhat concerned about the Judges' uniforms and their bikes. After about 10 seconds of the film I wasn't so bothered. Many of the same complaints survive but... and it's a fairly big but - they worked. The uniforms worked not just on Karl Urban, but on all the Judges we see. I suspect it's a difference in medium - in the comics the fascist overtones, the eagle's head and so on can be emphasised to the point of impracticality. In the film the same symbolism is there, but the uniforms are adapted to cope with a Judge having to take cover against the wall, roll and crawl under heavy fire and so on. The Lawmasters... they looked a bit ungainly and uncomfortable, very different to what I expected from the comics but still imposing, dangerous and they worked. I suspect that, a bit like the uniforms, they took the comic version, showed them to the stunt drivers and got them adapted so the people using them felt they were practical.
I was impressed with both the writing and the acting of Dredd and Anderson. Urban and Thirlby look the part, work together on screen wonderfully well. I guess the 15 year gap in their ages helps as does the 10" (25cm) height difference as well as Thirlby's hairdo. They should be capable of carrying a film but you never quite know until they try it. They succeeded and they succeeded in making the roles that they were playing that a lot of the audience already knew in various ways work. Urban in some ways had the easier task - he just has to growl pithy one-word answers for a lot of the film, but he does so in a way that works whereas others would try to make him say more and make him less Dredd. Thirlby as Anderson had to pull of the joint task of being a rookie Psi Judge on final assessment, complete with mind-bending powers, and yet being the sympathetic face of the Judges in their struggle to impose order. A tricky balancing act but one that she manages with as much aplomb as Urban.
The setting, despite some reservations about the look of the city, works. The story isn't hugely complicated but works nicely - there's a reason at every point why the characters move forward, engage the enemy and so on.
Judge Dredd is, for me at least, a sort of guilty pleasure. He is a massively fascist, authoritarian figure. Judge, jury and executioner and although he's never wrong in the laws he applies, the laws are incredibly harsh and always applied without exception or consideration. Those moments were perhaps lacking. Very early in the film there is a hostage situation. Dredd, of course, kills the kidnapper. But the Dredd of the comics would then arrest the victim for something too - not wearing a hairnets when preparing food say. The Dredd of the movie just walks away. I didn't mind at the time but now I wonder why... the fans of the comic would have appreciated it.
That aside, Dredd is a character who has nothing about him that I feel comfortable about admiring. And yet, somehow I do. Yes, he's set up as a figure to satirise the law and so forth but part of me grudgingly respects and even admires him. This film, these actors, pretty much delivered that. And I came away hoping they'll do a Dredd Two. Having done a sort of block war story, maybe one of the others, there's so many stories to pick from. With Anderson in the frame now, maybe the Dark Judges? Please?
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
The author does not allow comments to this entry
Syndicate This Blog
Last entry: 2013-06-17 17:58
728 entries written
238 comments have been made