Monday, March 10, 2014

Obey the law

I'm a sucker for bad movies. I guess it's just in my blood - my dad raised me on a steady diet of legitimately good films with a healthy side of B-movies and exploitation flicks. Judge Dredd, the 1995 Sylvester Stallone vehicle, is a crappy movie and I love it shamelessly. Dredd, the 2012 Karl Urban re-imagining of the comic book, is straight-up fucking awesome.

I told my husband that he would like it, so he asked me to describe it. This is what I came up with: "Judge Dredd and a psychic rookie judge get locked in a 200-story tower by a drug ring and they have to fight their way out by killing everybody. With explosions." It's a balls-to-the-wall action movie that has a lot more going on under the surface. Like the comic book, the film raises questions about poverty and fascism; unlike the comic book these are somewhat glossed over so that you can have your hefty helping of ultraviolence.

The movie is shockingly well-designed for an action flick; they did a great job of creating a world that feels like the day after tomorrow if time was strung out on heroin and begging for spare change. There are a couple of great, gory sight-gags that would be appalling if they weren't so obviously tongue-in-cheek.

Two performances really stood out to me on this re-watching, enough that I decided to go check out the actors on IMDB. The first was Olivia Thirlby as Anderson - I didn't realize that I was watching Juno's best friend shoot the fuck out of a gang until just now and I'm pretty impressed. Anderson is physically delicate (and completely adorable) but she's got a spitting-nails personality that I really liked when contrasted with the implacable Dredd. The other performance that had me floored was the sad, scared character of the Clan Techie, who doesn't even get a name in the film. Domnhall Gleeson was in the wonderfully sweet movie About Time last year; his star has been rising recently and I must say I'm pleased - so far I've liked him in everything I've seen him in.

I'm also pretty sure that any one of the many slo-mo sequences is more entrancing and enchanting than everything the Kardashians have done in their entire lives. That technique could make a burly dude taking a shit look like a unicorn from Legend. A+, Lionsgate, for realizing that your audience TOTALLY wants to see people get shot at 1/100th speed in this kind of movie. Well done.

I really regret not seeing this in theaters, and I wish I had enough of a tolerance to see Dredd in 3D - it seems to be one of the few movies that REALLY take advantage of 3D for an adult audience, like My Bloody Valentine, Shark Night 3D, and Piranha 3D. Kids movies don't take the right attitude; 3D should give us a reason to gleefully devour bloody headshots and laugh at regurgitated dicks, not make us feel like we're really hanging out with the Croods.

Go watch Dredd. It's a good use for two spare hours you might happen to have.

     - Alli

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