For the second time, I was joined by Nick of The Cinematic Katzenjammer for another segment of A Brief Discussion. This time around we discussed and reviewed the recent remake/reboot of the futuristic policeman, Judge Dredd. Unlike the 1995 version of the film, which starred Sylvester Stallone in the title role, the new version is a more dark, gritty and violent film. Just like our previous discussion of Lawless, my comments are in blue and Nick’s comments are in red.
J. So to get things started, did Dredd meet your expectations?
N. That’s a loaded question. Why it wasn’t as “action-packed” as I thought it would be, it surprised me a lot. The visuals were superb, even beautiful at times, and Karl Urban’s Dredd made me chuckle quite a bit.
J. Yeah, I did that on purpose. I’ve struggled with my thoughts on the movie since I’ve seen it. I’ll admit to liking Urban’s version of the character. He masted the scowl unlike any other. I also liked that the film pretty much took place in an apartment complex. I expected quite a bit more action, and my want for more only intensified with how incredibly over the top the scenes were that were included.
N. Yeah, some were very over-the-top, but there was never any HUGE action sequence that blew me away. I was expecting huge set piece (packed with explosions) over and over and over and over.
J. There was one that bordered on being HUGE, but it happens too soon.
N. Yeah, it features a couple of artillery machine guns that I thought would go somewhere. But even then, it just kind of happens. Not a lot going on. It’s really just Dredd running away and not really doing anything.
J. It could have been so much better, instead it just went on and on and nothing was really going on.
J. What did you think of Slo-Mo?
N. The idea behind the drug is really cool but the way they explained it made it sound cheesy. “It’s a drug that makes your brain work 1% the normal speed”.
N. The effects behind it though, are phenomenal. I don’t think I’ve ever actually liked slow motion camera work as much as I did with Dredd.
J. I thought the idea was pretty original, and the first time we see it done using the slow motion camera work was exceptional…but I grew tired of seeing it as much as they ended up showing it. It seemed anytime someone took a hit, we got the slow motion camera work and I’d rather have seen something action packed going on.
N. I can understand where you’re coming from, but I thought the Slo-Mo portions were too damn good looking to pass up. The detail, the color, and the effects behind each “hit” look so beautiful. It’s weird seeing something like that look so nice. Almost made the drug look more artistic than anything like heroin.
J. I can see your point. I just felt that the time could have been better spent elsewhere. What’d you think of the look of the film? aside from the slow motion scenes?
N. I liked it a lot. I thought that a large part of it would look too “video-gamey”, but it ended up having a decently gritty feel to it. It was dark with a lot of grays, thus when the Slo-Mo came into play and the color jumps out, it’s even more vibrant.
J. Agreed. I thought the look of the film was more realistic than most of the futuristic films we see. There were no flying cars, no outrageous electronic devices, it was dark and gritty and a future that’s much easier to envision.
N. Minus the Mega Structures, it was a rather realistic look. A lot of what we have today mixed with the smallest bits of whatever from the future. It didn’t try to be a sci-fi flick.
J. Aside from the drug and Dredd’s gun, it really didn’t. It felt like an action thriller more than anything.
J. What’d you think of Anderson?
N. I’ve always liked Olivia Thirbly and was wondering if she’d just continue to make indie fluff over and over again. So seeing her kick ass (and she does quite a bit) was really fun to see. Plus, she’s incredibly hot. And her sequences where she’d go into the minds of people is really cool.
J. Yeah, I wasn’t sure I was going to like the character at first. I was concerned that the mind reading ability was going to be completely misused, but it was handled really well. And she is most definitely hot!
N. Ha. And I agree with the possible issue. I was worried at first that the psychic part would be weird, but it worked. A lot of what makes Dredd great can be attributed to screenwriter, Alex Garland, who also wrote 28 Days Later and Sunshine, two of my favorite movies. His script is much smarter than you’re average action flick.
J. I’m not familiar with Sunshine, but I can see where he has a knack for the gritty style that’s used in 28 Days Later and Dredd.
N. Earlier, you mentioned Dredd’s gun. How fricking awesome are the Judge’s guns?
J. Oh hell, that shit was bad ass as it gets.
N. I also liked that Dredd continued to worry about ammo. He didn’t have a continuous supply. That little smart bit of the script made me like the movie even more.
J. Yeah, I liked how subtle that was. Often times in movies like this you find yourself asking how many bullets a gun uses, and that wasn’t the case here.
N. Yeah. He kept checking his gun and even told Anderson that she needed to reserve ammo. Multiple times.
J. So having pointed out so many things were handled better than a majority of films, I felt let down by the last 1/3 of the movie. It felt entirely too predictable. I don’t think anything happened that I didn’t expect or see coming a mile away.
N. Yes. I agree with you completely. Not only is the ending predictable, but it happens too fast. There’s a huge buildup to something big and in just a couple of minutes it’s over.
J. Yep, it just kind of ended without being climactic. Oh, and before I forget…MaMa is one of the worst bad guys ever!
N. Yeah, I was really disappointed with MaMa. I love Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) and thought she’d channel her inner Circe for the role, hell even get naked. But she kind of just existed. Her back-story is great, but her “presence” isn’t nearly as strong as other villains.
J. C’mon man, you mean to tell me none of her weak ass cronies couldn’t take her out. Christ, she was using the shit she was selling which breaks the biggest rule of a drug dealer…don’t use your own supply. Thanks to Wesley Snipes’ great role as Nino Brown in New Jack City!
J. Yes, her back story was really well done. Which only made it even more of a letdown when she came across as poorly as she did.
N. I was thinking she’d be more of a physical threat too. But she never really gets her hands dirty after her introduction.
J. Nope, she barely does anything more than give orders
J. Did anything else stand out in the film for you? Good or bad?
N. I just really like the world it creates and actually really want to see a sequel. Just bigger, badder, and more action.
J. Yeah, although I had problems with the film. I want to see more and see way more action sequences.
J. We didn’t talk about the 3D. What was your thought on how it looked?
N. I honestly thought it’s one of the best 3D movies I’ve seen. There was a lot of broken glass and stuff that came out at you, but it wasn’t gimmicky as you’d think. I thought the use of it, especially during the Slo-Mo scenes was done really well and heightened the experience more than anything.
J. Yeah, I had the opposite reaction to it. I admit that the Slo-Mo scenes were enhanced by the 3D, and I did like the depth that was apparent throughout, but I felt it was another case of being unnecessary. I found msyelf watching some of the film without the glasses even on.
N. It was filmed in 3D though.. which I always have to give a tip of the hat to, as opposed to post production conversion.
J. Agreed. If you are going to make a 3D film, then film it that way. Enough with the conversions!
J. So, I think we pretty much covered everything, so what grade would you give Dredd?
N. On my scale of 1-10, I’d give it a solid 7.4. What about you and your canoli system?
J. People familiar with the character and fanboys are going to love it, but people wanting a non-stop action filled flick are going to be somewhat disappointed. I’d go with 3.5 cannoli.
Finalizing my thoughts on Dredd, the movie could have been incredible; should have been incredible. With just a few more intense action sequences, I think the movie would have been all I had imagined it was going to be. Anyone familiar with the character, and I don’t mean the old Sylvester Stallone movie, will probably enjoy the movie. Anyone unfamiliar with the character though, will most likely be sorely disappointed.
If you’re interested in collaborating with me for A Brief Discussion of a particular movie, email me at Joe@twodudereview.net. I’m up for seeing just about anything, and thoroughly enjoy having good film conversations.