Sunday, October 28, 2012

He *is* the law

I've been anticipating the Dredd movie for over a year now and I'm happy to say that unlike Prometheus, and the Stallone Dredd movie yonks ago, this one was entirely satisfying.

As a Judge Dredd fanboy, I won't bore you with all the ways that this Dredd movie beautifully reflects the style and flavour of the Dredd comics. But that apart I was struck with how much the movie reminded me of a really well made John Carpenter film. There's the constrained budget which - while making for the occasional cheesy set - actually makes the film-maker work harder and smarter to create their vision, there's the uncompromising violence, there's the simple story told well, and finally there's the stylistic flavour of the piece, the archetypes that are played with, reinforced or subverted.

Unconsciously or not, the movie referenced some classic John Carpenter tropes and moments. Dredd is a sort of more uptight Snake Plissken (Escape from New York) and there's a great scene where Mama destroys an entire level of the megablock with super (and super loud) gatling guns which our heroes evade, that calls to mind the scene in Assault on Precinct 13 where the gangs shoot up the precinct house in eerie quiet using silenced assault rifles. And I guess the above par B grade feel of the movie made me think of Carpenter too.

As with Carpenter, the violence is never gratuitous but hovers on the edge of a kind of gross beauty. Mama's final end is an amazing example of something horrific given a strange  I-wish-I-could-look-away glamour (a la The Thing).

Props also to Karl Urban for a magnificent performance. If you haven't seen Dredd, go to it! Personally I really hope it grosses enough for a sequel.

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