Dredd Was a Good Summer Movie

I ended up seeing Dredd not out of a specific desire to see the movie but it was the only movie playing in theaters that held any interest for me at all. I figured I was in trouble when I saw that the theater was completely empty on a Friday night. There were only 6 people in the theater for Dredd. I would have been content to see it on Netflix in a few months and apparently so would have everyone else.I recently watched the Stallone version which did not help the case. I remember seeing “Judge Dredd” when it first came out. By the time I left the theater in 1995 I was confused about why I’d wasted two hours of my life on a movie that starred Rob Schneider. The 1995 film could not decide between action and camp. I have no experience with the comic character so the movie needed to stand alone and did not. As a remake the new Dredd is at risk like the recent Total Recall movie of being compared to its predecessor. Unlike TR, Dredd did not waste time with homages the previous film and went straight back to the source material. In the case of Dredd there is apparently ample sour in the comic from which to draw.

The plot of Dredd is simple. Karl Urban plays a character who is both cop and judge. Today is the “Training Day” for a new candidate and Dredd has to make a final assessment of the rookie. On a routine call they identify a bad guy and have to go get her. The rest of the movie plays like a video game with the characters advancing through “levels” toward their target. While the move dispenses with homages to Stallone, there are plenty of moments right our of Robocop in dialog, character movement, and filming style. I guess there’s only so many ways to film a guy in armor holding a really big gun. Dredd even steals a line from Robocop’s ED-209 — “you have 30 seconds to comply”.

The filming style was ver dynamic and allowed you to forget the (lack of) plot and just enjoy the scenery. Some of the shots look like they were taken right from a first-person-shooter (FPS) video game as the characters advance down a hallway taking cover. Other shots tried to show the visual affects of a drug sold by the bad guy called SLO-MO. That drug made time feel like it had been slowed down to one hundredth of normal time. This allowed for high speed photography shots that were a beautiful and as interesting as something you’d see on the Discovery channel, but with a comic book gore twist. This movie earns its “R” rating with shots that are as unique as Bullet Time was in 1999. The 3-D viewing is worth your time.

I’d have to recommend it as a good, fun summer popcorn movie which is ironic because it came out the first day of Fall. It has no lasting commentary on the human condition but it is pretty to watch.

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