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Dredd (2012)

February 8, 2013

dredd-movie-poster-2012-1020751986How do you like your dystopian action films? With lots of decrepit, run down cityscapes? How about with a badass hero who spouts out terribly awesome one-liners? Definitely some spewing blood action and an array of weapons, right? And hey, why not throw in a psychic who ends up having a battle between minds with someone? Did I lose you there? Well if everything else sounded appealing, then you need to see Dredd. The psychic element makes sense in context.

Dredd was one of those films that came out virtually unnoticed last year. Critical acclaim was moderate and promotion along with expectations fared less than well causing it to open at number six at the box office upon its release. And can you blame audiences for not touching it with a ten foot pole? On top of having steep competition opening day, the brass tacks of Dredd is that it’s a remake of Judge Dredd, a seemingly campy Sylvester Stallone film featuring Rob Schneider as his side kick— although after watching the trailer, I’m kind of dying to see it. Alas all things happen for a reason and despite not getting the pleasure of experiencing Dredd in theaters I’m more than happy to have enjoyed it in the comfort of my own home being able to yell “oh my god” in shock throughout it.

Karl Urban is Dredd. That alone makes Dredd as enjoyable as it. Urban plays the duty loving straight laced “Judge” with perfect robotic robust yet also giving Dredd the right amount of humanity to care about his fate. It’s the distant future and planet Earth is in shambles. Judges are the law, fiercely serious and damn good police who have the right to prosecute and execute criminals on the spot. There power is justified considering the city has over 17,000 crimes reported a day. In this future, street blocks are envisioned as high rise hotel-like buildings complete with shopping centers on certain floors and home to nearly all city dwellers most housing low class citizens and criminals; the most infamous block being Peach Trees, led by a blood thirsty psychotic ex-prostitute and current drug lord, Ma Ma. When a public, triple homicide happens in Peach Trees, Dredd and a psychic recruit, Anderson, are put on the scene. Unfortunately for the two, Ma Ma has other plans, instead gaining access to the building’s control room and locking it down. The lock down and imprisonment of the residents will end under one stipulation: Dredd and Anderson must die. The two are forced to fight for the lives despite the odds pitied against them.

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Now sure, a film featuring a psychic, lots of CGI, and a plot twist very much like that of 2011’s incredible Indonesian maid The Raid: Redemption is bound to be corny and yes, in parts Dredd is. The look of the film at times even looks like an overly campy film meant to air on the Sci-Fi channel due to its glowing white interior lighting and an overall glossy look. There are some great/lame one-liners and Anderson’s side plot initially seems like a failed way to add time to the film’s length. However, Dredd is well crafted and the physic element makes for a really cool scene in which Anderson enters the mind of a character causing the two have a battle of egos. I’m far from a squeamish person. I thoroughly believe in heavy blood in films that call for it, and Dredd phones in the gore hard. Every gunshot results in witnessing the interior of a human being and thanks to the fabulous special effects, blood unsettlingly spills and flows like the Niagara.

I really enjoyed Dredd, partly because it’s a great balls to the wall action film with some great humor and wit on its side. But I mostly loved it for the beautiful shots involving the film’s catalyst, “Slo-Mo,” a new drug being abused around the city in which users breathe in from an inhaler allowing the resulting high to slow their reaction time down to extreme levels. Every time a character ingests “Slo-Mo” audiences are blessed to witness the mind blowing high. Director Peter Travis and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle digitally captures the beautiful high by slowing the scenes down and accompanying them with the soothing sounds of vocal symphonies. Light becomes almost fractalized and out of focus producing a bokeh effect while colors become translucent and iridescent; like in a scene when a window breaks, each bit of glass slowly trickles to the ground appearing as though crystals are raining from overhead. The scenes are phenomenally shot and make Dredd that much more of a pleasure to watch. I can’t yet say if Dredd trumps the 90s Judge Dredd, but I can say the direction alone makes Dredd miles beyond its predecessor and hey, it sure beats watching Rob Schneider in a film.

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SEE IT. If you’re into cheesy action films. And if you know anybody who has any Slo-Mo, holla at me.

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