davegodfrey: Cyberman: The Future is Shiny (Shiny)
[personal profile] davegodfrey
So, Dredd. Was not dreadful. Which, given its much (and by and large justifiably) maligned predecessor was all I was hoping for when I heard about it. If its basically the same film and Karl Urban is humble enough, and familiar enough with the source material not to show his face, then that would have been good enough for me.

However, having read feedback by 2000AD fans I was expecting something very good. It did not disappoint. Is it better than The Avengers? Its a lot less fun, certainly. But then living in MegaCity One is not supposed to be fun. Being Iron Man is clearly supposed to be fun, hell even being the Hulk isn't too bad. However no-one really wants to be Judge Dredd, and anyone who does, probably shouldn't be allowed anything sharper than a spoon. It's a pretty humourless film (there aren't even any District 9-esque death-by-cow moments to lighten the mood), but its not po-faced. It isn't funny, because life in a city of 800 million people in an area about the size of Scotland on the edge of complete anarchy isn't going to be "funny".

Its a much smaller film than its predecessor. We don't see the Cursed Earth other than in brief shots topping and tailing the film. As I haven't seen The Raid don't want to draw too many comparisons, but the plot is largely the same- I'd also compare it to Die Hard for obvious reasons. I definitely missed the sale that the Stallone version went for- but as with so many comic book adaptations that haven't worked it tried to cram too much in. In Judge Dredd, the Angel Gang, ABC warriors, and Dredd's origins, are all picked up, toyed with, and dispensed with after five minutes or so. It gives you the feeling of a large world, but everything's disjointed and spread thinly. Dredd doesn't even try this. We get the feeling of a wider world, but its very self-contained- almost too self contained. I'm sure there are a fair few shout-outs that the 2000AD readers will pick up on, but are lost on me. And I don't honestly mind. It feels like a short, one-shot story, rather than a story arc. And I have no problem with that, whatsoever. Its certainly preferable to watching it done badly. If this is the start of a franchise, or given what HBO has shown you can do with TV series, essentially a pilot with a cinema release, then I'll be more than happy.

The acting is definitely better- when Karl Urban says that he is the law he's asserting control. Stallone was whining like a petulant child. He's also got a much more expressive chin than Sly, which helps, because he doesn't take his helmet off. Those of us who have seen Game of Thrones know that Lena Headley can do scheming very well, and in a contest between Cersei Lannister and Madeline "Ma-Ma" Madrigal, I honestly don't know who would win. Olivia Thirlby as Anderson gets lots to do, at no point does she seem like a damsel in distress, which more than most women in action films get.

I want to describe it as beautiful but I can't. Because its ugly, dirty and noisy. Just like MegaCity One is supposed to be. MegaCity One in the Stallone version wasn't spotless, but it didn't look much worse than many cities today. This MegaCity? It really is a dystopian hell-hole.

The SloMo scenes are very well shot, and work well in 3D, with one or two exceptions, where it really looks like the front of the scene is a 2D shot pasted in front of a backdrop, like those paper model theatres. However this is the first film I've seen in 3D (there's only two places in London that are showing it in Glorious Two Dimensions) so I honestly don't know if that's a criticism of the 3D-ing in this particular film, or a problem with 3D in general.

There's a completely callous disregard for human life, and a civilian bodycount probably in the hundreds- something, again, completely absent in Stallone's version. I hope it does well, because not only does it mean we'll get sequels (and they've hinted they'd like to do the Dark Judges, or Judge Tyrannosaurus, which could be really good), but it shows there's a market for properly dystopian sci-fi, which I've always had a soft spot for, ever since Robocop.

Thinking about how well the team handled this very massive, deep, and rather British dystopian future, I'd like to see what they can do with that other vast and complex crapsack world, we created- Warhammer 40K.

So yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you haven't seen it, do so.

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November 2013

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