Monday, August 26, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Thirty-eight - Dredd, "Now THIS is what modern action movies should be."

Came down with a bit of the ague today, so I took a sick day... much to the annoyance of my boss, no doubt... and, while it was unfortunate for my daily routine it was rather fortunate for my Netflix queue as, thanks to the guy trimming the hedges around the apartments with a chainsaw, I wasn't able to sleep away my sickness.

So, on to today's Couchbound pick, which just happened to be newly released on the Instant Stream, and it was Karl Urban's take on Dredd.

No, not the 90's Stallone vehicle that was more comical farce than gritty scifi dystopia, this version of Dredd never takes off the mask and is all business, all "The Law," all of the time... and I find myself much happier for it, very glad there's no Sly or Rob Schneider.

Set in the vast urban sprawl of Megacity One after the fall of society thanks to nuclear war, Dredd follows the eponymous Judge, Jury, and Executioner on an assessment tour for rookie beat Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a powerful psychic who is being pushed into service despite failing her entrance exams.

The two of them are sent to a Megablock Tower called Peach Trees where three gangbangers were tossed off a ledge from hundreds of stories up. While investigating the murders, they happen upon a mid-level banger who could ruin his gang's whole operation and that sets into motion a total lockdown of the Tower on the orders of the gang's vicious leader, Ma-ma (Lena Headey).

From there, the movie is one blood-soaked battle after another as the two isolated Judges try to survive wave after wave of bullets, bangers, and even a few corrupt Judges called in during act three to fight fire with fire.

To say that I love this film is an understatement. It's brutal without being gratuitous, stylistic without being heavy-handed, and full of subtle little touches that cause the comic book geek in me to squeal in delight.

I mean, honestly, seeing Anderson pause at that "No Muties" graffiti for half a second before moving on with the mission is a tremendously well done nod to the status quo of Megacity One. Such a perfect little humanizing moment for her (ironic, considering) and one that isn't lost as her Mutant status is used to great effect during several key scenes.

It's not a perfect movie... as there are no leads or subtle hints to the corrupt judges at any point previous to the moment Ma-ma sends for them during the second to third act transition, but I'm willing to forgive a few oversights considering how well placed other running themes and clues were laid out... particularly concerning her mousey tech genius (Domhnall Gleeson).

When it comes to effects, pretty much all of the gunplay is spot on, with even the normally laughable CGI bloodspray being really quite believable. The same can be said for the high-speed camera effects that pop up several times during the movie as the visual high of the drug Slo-Mo that the Ma-ma clan is producing. While you can't see it as much on the Stream, the 3D version that I saw in theaters was just that much more dazzling.

Last, but not least, I really want to point out Urban's portrayal of Dredd. I think he very much embodied the spirit of the character. Whereas Stallone was always "Sly in Dredd's Uniform" (and, even then, only for a small portion of the movie before he's disgraced and defrocked), Urban most definitely wears the mantle so well that I never saw him as Karl Urban... only as the man, the monolith, Judge Dredd. Much kudos to him.

If you're any kind of fan of action, I'd very much recommend Dredd to you... especially over tongue-in-cheek, almost parody movies like The Expendables. Dredd gives you everything you want from an actioner and never lets up. I really hope that it's cult status and DVD sales will lead to a sequel, cause I'd rather have one from Urban, et al., than yet another Riddick.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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