Thursday, 13 September 2012

Dredd 3D - The scoop and digest

I’ll be totally honest, after the wonderful portrayal of Dredd by Stallone in the 1995 Danny Cannon movie, this filled me with dread.

Incidentally, Dread is a good Clive Barker adaptation starring Jackson Rathbone and is well worth watching.

Anyway, Judge Dredd (as it was called) was indeed particularly awful and unintentionally lampooned an iconic comic book char.  What a waste of celluloid.

To think, I went to pictures to see that shower….

Before I start ranting about how awesome that catastrophe was, let’s have a look at Pete Travis’ take and see if mistakes have been learnt.

Drokk me, this is good.

Spoliers and/or plot details about the antics of Dredd and Mega City One will be brought to justice.

Some of the thespians involved in the carnage.

Karl Urban – Judge Dredd
Lena Headey – Ma-Ma
Olivia Thirlby – Anderson
Rakie Avola – Chief Judge
Wood Harris – Kay
Dohmnall Gleeson – Clan Tech
Warrick Grier – Caleb

Mega City One has become a crushed and degenerated area where chaos is rife and criminals run riot.

No nonsense cops known as ‘Judges’ patrol the crime-ridden metropolis to restore order who possess the power and privilege of been able to literally eliminate the human filth that pollute the air.

Enter the most feared Judge of all – Dredd.

Along with the assistance of a ‘rookie’, their latest challenge is to rid the recreational drug Slo-Mo from society and take down crimelord Ma-Ma and her brutal clan who are located in Peach Trees, a 200 floor shit hole.

The effect of Slo-Mo basically alters its users perception of time as predictably in reality, things are moving normally.  It’s taken via a pseudo asthma inhaler and is shown inside a transparent tube as a deep and murky red liquid.

The film opens with a chase scene with Dredd on the tail of an armed gang in a van who are seen using Slo-Mo.

'Drokk' can be seen written on a jacket draped over a seat.

He’s asked about back up, which he grunts “No.”  He sounds cocky and arrogant but he can afford to be as criminals quickly find that messing with Dredd will lead to more than a slap on the wrist.

After they mow down an innocent, he’s going to cause a little accident...

The crash scene reveals that all lay dead, apart from one who flees and takes a hostage with him.

After the inevitable and stereotypical threats to kill the unfortunate, Dredd says hot shot.  Little does the perp know that he’s not talking to him, but instead to his gun, which fires the described bullet killing him virtually instantly.

Shortly after, he gets a call from the Chief Judge who wants him back at HQ.

He’s ordered to assess a rookie, a powerful psychic who has just fell short of passing the necessary tests to become a Judge.  Dredd frowns upon this because she's a mutant.

Fans will know that due to the Atomic Wars, genetic mutations appeared and it's illegal for such a being to live in the city.

Despite his reservations, he begrudgingly takes her out on the beat with him.

During this day in the life, Dredd receives a choice to either investigate a crime reported in notorious Peach Trees or some other wonderful assignment.

He of course chooses Peach Trees which puts the fear of God up most Judges, but Dredd doesn’t scare so easily.

Cue the main setting of the movie.

Shortly before entering, Dredd notices a vagrant begging, he warns that he’s breaking the law and will be sentenced unless he’s gone before they return.

A grim discovery reveals three skinned people, who have had a run in crime lord Ma-Ma.

Bodies are taken away for recycling and loaded up on the meat wagon.

After speaking with a security operative, we get the colourful history of Ma-Ma, real name Marlene Madrigal.

She’s an ex-hooker and her terrible scars are because of lovely boyfriend who decided to sharpen his knife on her face.  Gaining revenge is one thing but she chose to deprive her significant other of a certain appendage by feminising him.  It’s the stuff that exists in any male's nightmare…

Her power is violence and rival gangs felt the brunt of this wrath that foolishly attempted to hustle in on her territory.

Whether it's an animal, vegetable or mineral, she cares not.  Make no mistake, she is one evil bitch.

So after interrupting a drugs den and slaughtering most on sight, they arrest Kay who after subject to some mind psychosis, is revealed to be connected to the murders and one of Ma-Ma’s henchmen.

Getting wind of this arrest, Ma-Ma and co quickly seize control of the security room and force the apartment’s blast shutters to effectively seal the place off and thus prevent any further help from arriving.

She hides behind the bullshit of it being a security test.

During this lockdown, that poor vagrant is crushed by these shutters.  If only he'd listened...

Dredd eventually decides that realising the capture of Kay, Ma-Ma didn’t want him to be grilled as she was frightened that he’d cough.

So for Dredd and the rookie (Anderson), the only way is up, baby.

Much violence will be dealt, blood will spill and justice will be served, all in wonderful 3D.

As with any film with an added dimension, you should expect some spectacular stuff for your extra bit of cash and it doesn't disappoint.

You'd think an action film would be all about the bullets coming at ya, but instead, it’s literally all about the Slo-Mo.

It’s rather excellent how the inhalation from its users is depicted and displays a distinct disconnection between myth and reality.

I’ll admit that in my favourite dimension, it would look fairly ‘flat’.

Of course, gunplay and blood also benefit from the dimension jump.

Dredd happily moves on from one massacre to the next and leaves remorse firmly on the seat of his bike.

His gun has a voice recognition facility and is loaded with a delicious assortment of firepower.

The violence shown is glorious but never gratuitous.  Its emphasised during Slo-mo shenanigans.

The acts shown are certainly worthy of its 18 cert.

If the crime fits the attempted murder of a judge, the sentence is death.

Travis paints a fairly bleak and unrelenting vision of Mega City One and appropriately, there are hardly any giggles apart from a few choice words from Dredd.

The joy that Slo-Mo brings to the desperate ensures that your laughter meter will be kept to a minimum.

The action isn’t constant, but is fairly frequent and the increased desperation and fear forced upon the bad guys is brought to the boil nicely.

Ma-Ma’s value of human life is showcased when she orders her cronies to unload high powered gattling guns in the general direction of Dredd.

When she takes over, the carnage of innocents left in her pursuit doesn’t even begin to satisfy her bloodlust.

If you’re responsible for the manufacturer and the distribution of a deadly narcotic – judgment is coming.

Naturally, it would be boring if the seemingly invincible human terminator has it all his own way and things do go slightly awry.

1000000 credits is the price for a judge and considering it's going to be split several ways, I'd want a lot more considering there's a guy called Dredd intent on putting my balls in a sling.

After obtaining the code to allow access to Ma-Ma’s stronghold from her computer whizz (who we find through another repeated flashback was subject to eye gouging), Dredd’s pretty keen to meet her.

The encounter with Ma-Ma is satisfying rather than ridiculous and after forcing her to have a smoke, Dredd ignores her potentially explosive threat and decides to throw caution to the wind.

This is how Dredd should have been portrayed like in the original – a double-hard bastard with an itchy trigger finger and possessing a great passion for execution.

I was willing Urban never to remove his helmet.  Thankfully, he and Pete Travis listened.  I've no idea why Cannon went down that obscure route and basically stuck two fingers up at the comic.

This was one of many things that made the original movie so awful.

Displaying a rather magnificent chin, Urban is perfectly cast as the ultimate law enforcer.

I did detect that he did seem to slightly struggle with a necessary gruff voice.

Olivia Thirlby is watchable as the rookie and Dredd’s understudy who understandably begins meek and nervous, but then gradually comes round to her overseer’s way of thinking.

Whether she passes his ‘assessment’ and become judge material is eventually rendered meaningless.

Lena Headey (of Sarah Connor Chronicles fame), steals the show as the merciless and remorseless drug lord.

She really doesn’t give a shit about anyone or anything.

In her defence, I suppose the life she previously led (forced or not) and the treatment at the hands of her boyfriend obviously didn’t help.

Other hoodlums in support just allow this high octane tsunami to gently wash over them.

Ardent fans will notice that the graffiti in Peach Trees contains names of chars used in the 2000 AD strip.

I usually notice references and Dredd is no different.

Whether these are in homage, intended, pure coincidence or a shameless rip off is another matter.

The hot shot moment at the start of play immediately reminds me of Dead Calm and the demise of Billy Zane.

When Kay is about to shoot Anderson, the gun doesn’t recognise its wielder so he unwittingly triggers its failsafe and explodes his arm.  I relate that to Blade when a vamp handles his sword.

Dredd warns a group of perps that they have ’20 seconds to comply’.  Who’s does this guy think he is – ED-209?

OCP’s crooked creation and/or self sufficient law enforcement robot ironically also gave Mr Kenny ’20 seconds to comply’.

Speaking of Robocop, while the sequel isn’t fit to open the original’s baby food, the whole thing smacks of Robocop 2.

Ma-Ma peddles Slo-Mo and Cain claimed paradise was Nuke.

She controls the wastrels of Mega City One and Cain addicts the down and outs of Delta City.

Same principle, yes?  

We could also compare setting to The Raid...

Some 3D efforts are profligate but this must be seen on the big screen.

If there is something to dislike is that I'd like to have seen Dredd use his fists far more than his piece.

Of course there could be a sequel and this time, surely moving to either side of the Cursed Earth is the obvious progression.

It’s a great thrill ride, packed with action, great effects, useful performances and finally gives a commendable tribute to the hard as nails comic book char.

For Dredd fanatics and general action junkies, I'd struggle to see how anybody can be disappointed.

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