Would you take a drug that made time seem to go in super slow motion for you? It doesn’t speed up your natural reactions, it just speeds up your thinking. I wouldn’t. But that’s the new narcotic of choice for the new Judge Dredd movie. I think it’s just a gimmick so the film makers could do a lot of super slow motion sequences, and to be fair, there are some pretty cool sequences in the film.
The latest comic book inspired movie to hit the screens is Judge Dredd, another Lionsgate picture. Judge Dredd made it to the movies once before starring Sylvester Stallone. That movie was kind of forgettable, and though I know I saw it, I’ve mostly forgotten it. I think I’ll remember the current version a lot longer. Karl Urban is amazing as Judge Dredd. Cold, passionless, brutal–he is the law. Olivia Thirlby is even better as Cassandra Anderson. She gets a chance to act, and she makes the movie. Academy award nomination for her if I was in the Academy. I never heard of either one of these actors, but they’re at the top of my favorites list now.
This is the story of Anderson’s pass/fail exam to become a Judge. She gets to spend a day on the beat with Dredd. He is constantly testing her judgment abilities. Of course she tackles a crime that turns out to be one of the greatest challenges of Dredd’s career. They wind up taking on a whole criminal gang, locked into a gigantic skyscraper with every hand against them. There is no plot. Just crisis after crisis of escalating firepower and danger.
The movie is a first person shooter video game brought to the big screen. In 3D. And super slow motion! With lots and lots of blood! And graphic depictions of violence that could turn your stomach if you stopped to think about it, or had to see it in real life. And lots of bad street language. And a calculating female villain as tough and nasty as can be imagined.
And it all works extremely well. I was caught up in it from beginning to end. This is the way the comic should be translated to real life. The people seem real, even if the world is too horrible to believe in. My one word description of this movie is: NASTY! And I mean that in a good way.
My favorite scene is where Anderson is asked to list and evaluate their options. She comes up with two: hide or fight. Dredd gives her a third, go after Ma-Ma, the gang leader. She recommends waiting till the odds are more in her favor. She’s that green. She doesn’t realize that since she’s with Dredd, the odds are already in their favor. Those couple hundred gang members never really stood a chance.
If there’s one place where the film makers went a bit too far, it was in the overuse of violent slow motion and smoke. Somebody fell in love with the idea of smoke swirling around in slow motion 3D on film, and it happens repeatedly during the movie. Personally, I’m not a big fan of smoke, so that part just sort of turned my stomach. But, it was all sort of moody and artistic, so I’m not complaining very hard.
Generally, critics hate action science fiction movies, but they liked this one. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 91%. The audiences give it a 95%. I’d rate it that high. Other than blowing too much smoke at the audience, I couldn’t find a thing I didn’t like about the movie.
If you like to see heroes facing down the hordes of hell, then this is the movie of the year for you. I rate it higher than the Avengers movie, and that one was mighty good.
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