Saturday, December 31, 2016

That Time When Éomer and Dr. McCoy Ran Mega City One, or Thoughts on Dredd

 Dredd (2012), not to be confused with Stallone’s Judge Dredd (1995, and don’t you just love how you only have to mention Stallone to know exactly what kind of movie it was), is the far more successful and visionary adaptation of the 2000 AD comic book by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra.  Written and Produced by Alex Garland, who would go onto write and direct Ex Machina, (2015), the movie stars Karl Urban as the eponymous Judge who is the Law.
Karl Urban never takes his helmet off, staying true to the character and immediately winning over the fans.  There’s no back-story, no origin story, and very little in the way of explanation; nuclear apocalypse, over-population, violent crime, and an extremely overworked and draconian justice system.  The movie throws the viewer in the deep end and expects you to swim or drown.
That keep up or fall behind filmmaking ethic essentially echoes the journey of Olivia Thirlby’s Judge Anderson of Psi Division (which I am certain is a low key Joy Division reference, given that the character first appeared in the UK in 1980), a rookie on her first day being assessed by Mega City One’s most famous Judge.  There’s an element of randomness as Judge Dredd allows Anderson to pick the crime they’ll investigate and she decides on a triple homicide where Lena Headey as skinned her victims and thrown them off a balcony.
Lena Headey portrays Ma-Ma, the scarred  and psychopathic drug queen of the 200-storey mega-block that the bulk of the action takes place in, and there’s your movie.  Essentially a sci-fi remake of The Raid: Redemption (2011) but with Judge Dredd, it’s a video game format where the judges have to fight floor by floor until they reach the armored penthouse.
It’s a beautiful movie; even the slow motion violence has a certain Sam Peckinpah poetry that makes the film watchable, with slo-mo, a new future drug that enables the filmmakers to use 3D bullet time and punched up CGI graphics effectively.  The production design and wardrobe are updated but retain the comic book aesthetic, as well as the art direction’s day glow metallic colors.  The Lawgiver, if you care (and I know you do) is a modified Glock 17 with Rapid Fire, Armor Piercing, Incendiary, Stun and Hot Shot.  It is the most video gamey movie not based on a video game that I happen to enjoy.
Disappointing Box Office doomed the plans for a trilogy introducing Judge Death, though fans remain optimistic.  The movie holds a very respectable 78% on Rotten Tomatoes and is also one of my favorite modern Sci-Fi films.

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).