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Archive for April 19th, 2014

Today’s review is for the Sci-Fi movie “Dredd” (2012) starring Karl Urban.  This movie is a remake of “Judge Dredd” (1995) which starred Sylvester Stallone.  Whenever you start off a movie review with “remake”, there are two immediate questions: have you seen them both, and, which one is better.  Answer one: yes.  Answer two: neither one of these is going to win anyone any Oscar.  As a Urban “fan” and as someone who is not “really” a Stallone fan (although I’ve seen a LOT more of Sly’s work than Karl’s), I’d be tempted to go with the remake.  In fact, though, they are different films about the same main character which makes comparison more problematic.
Dredd (Sly) is a lot of action with a touch of humor.  Dredd (Urban) is a lot of action with a lot of blood.  Dredd (Sly) is a lot like any other over the top comic hero shoot ’em up.  Dredd (Urban) is a visual “experience”, shot very similar to “300” or “Watchmen” with slow-mo amputations and spurting blood.  It was obviously meant to be viewed in 3-D at a theater, but I’m a 2-D person at home, so it probably lost some of its effects.  In any case, even when these visual effects are spectacular at the start of a movie, at the end of two hours you’re still yawning (ho-hum).
In this film, Dredd is assigned a new partner and he must evaluate her performance.  The pair get trapped in a meg-structure controlled by a drug-cartel / gang.  (Spoiler alert) The twist is that the cartel hires some “bad” Judges to come in and kill Dredd and his partner.  Three guesses: which judges win? who gets out of the building alive? and, does the rookie pass her evaluation?
The movie is about a dystopian future where there is very little value placed on human life.  Still, I found it mildly off-putting there was so much emphasis on the carnage and blood-letting and so little on a plot which made more sense.  Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I’m just getting old.  Yes, the F/X are better in the remake, but I can’t help feeling the first version had more story.  I’m definitely NOT saying it was a great movie – or even a better than good movie.  I just feel the first was better than the second as a story if not as a movie.  The one exceptional thing about this movie was the decision that Dredd would not take off his helmet for the entire movie.  I can’t think of many actors who can convey emotional content – for an entire movie – without the use of their eyes, but Urban carries it off.  (Like I said, I am a Karl Urban fan.)
Final recommendation: low to moderate recommendation with the qualification that although the title character is based on a “comic-book” character, this is not a child appropriate film due to language, violence and adult content.
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On This Day In:
2013 Enemy Mine
2012 Strengthen Me
2011 Service, Please
2010 The Church In Crisis…

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