I thought I'd posted about this movie already. I mentioned it in reference to Raid Redemption (2011), as I have no doubt the scenario in this one is heavily inspired by the former, even if they differ greatly otherwise. I just watched it again, and as I hadn't reviewed it earlier I suppose I'll do so now.
It's beautiful. With the excuse of a newly invented drug that slows down time they show glimpses of brief moments in their euphoric and slowed down state - water spraying, sparkling, twinkling in intricate patterns as it falls - ligaments getting torn in a burst of bright, shining, blood as a bullet tears a hole through a torso, or streams through a jaw - a hundred story fall slowed down to a minute - the sparks of an explosion singling through the air as a million little flares of dust. The slow motion effects are few and far between, and mostly at the start of the movie, but they are a real eye catcher, each one adding an element of beauty regardless of what scene is portrayed, regardless of how violent or macabre it is.
But it's not just the slow-mo that makes this movie great, it's the plot and the punch that it delivers, simple in its foundation but flawless in its detail. There's been a Judge Dredd movie before, starring Sylvester Stallone as a tough buff 80s action hero, but now with Karl Urban, Dredd is suddenly sleek and mean, and he doesn't remove his mask a single time. He is synonymous with justice: he is an icon, a symbol of leadership and perseverance. As his partner and trainee he has the comparatively timid and careful Anderson, a psychic without a mask, as it may - she suitably explains as they are about to bust through a door into a den of criminal activity way more serious then they at this point imagine - interfere with her powers.
Amidst both styled and unstyled violence (but all equally stylish), there are rare flashes of psychic ability, occasional bartering for survival, punchlines and stealth. But there's really nothing unnecessary with this movie. The main character's priorities change over the course of the film, but from the start there is little left unsaid, and yet there is often little need for words. Dredd isn't really the talkative type, but neither are most characters, there's no need for a surplus of speech, it's action from start to finish. Mostly.
There's a building block (ironically named 'Peach Trees') packed with killing intent and a drug operation soon to sweep over the city, that our heroes unknowingly waltz right into. That's how it all starts, and from there on it gets interesting. There's been talk of a Dredd sequel, and I hope it turns to more than talk! Like this movie, it should be all about action. Fingers crossed.
rated 5/5: friggin awesome
I guess every movie is better the first time you see it, or the first two, or three... but I had this urge to see this one again, and so I did and... it's still not bad! It grows on you - from start to finish. Even if it no longer feels flawless (though there's plenty of lawless).
I'm still impressed with how truthful it all is to the comics, all the while retaining a believable world view - even if the modernized bikes are kind of dull. I'm also impressed with Karl Urban not requesting to show his face all the time, like Sylvester did, though I don't mind looking at Anderson instead. Their chemistry is great. The slow-mo effects are still awesome as well - and get better. It's all a work of art, and of violence. Gritty, artful, merciless, cleverly-scripted action - and one of few comic book adaptions done well as well.
The building gives a sense of isolation and hopelessness - at least in the first few moments, but a few watches in I do feel like I'm missing out on the outside world. The Raid got the intensity thing down even better, but this is Dredd. He's a different breed.
After this I feel I'd better watch the old Stallone movie too: I doubt it matches up to this one yet, but I'm forgetting if it was all bad or had another kind of good to it. Either way: this is clearly the best adaption yet.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle