jencat: (brain)
Obviously I do watch other films. Like, somewhere around 60 films at the cinema last year (that's not even counting multiple trips to see Avengers. And Dredd. And TDKR) because I splurged on LFF quite a lot. So the fact that I'm still going on about Dredd after nearly six months is, um, significant?

See, it even puzzles me... I really shouldn't be the target audience for this film. And yet I apparently am, given that I adore nasty, gory ultraviolent films where the main characters are relatively bad people trying to survive ('bad' is necessarily relative, but all the protagonists have at least attempted to kill several people) but what they're trying to survive is even worse; and there's a central couple who are hyper-competent people but it's really not about them getting together at the end. And they tend to have lots of guns. Going by this standard, I am expecting great things of Pacific Rim, which also features giant freaking robots. It took me a while to work out that Dredd actually falls into the same mini-niche as Pitch Black(even if Fry doesn't quite make it; she also doesn't quite manage to kill the rest of the cast in the crash either though),and one of my all-time favourites, Predators.

Yeah, I really shouldn't be the target audience for that one either, but now I've actually lost count of the number of times I've happily watched Adrian Brody and Alice Braga running around a jungle expertly shooting nasty aliens. Predator is massively fucked up and I kind of adore it (you do of course have to ignore the massively reductive racial stereotyping and general ickiness of most the characters, but it features some wonderfully odd conversations along with being pacey and snappy, deliciously horrific and OMG Lawrence Fishburn's fantastically nutty cameo is worth watching for alone).  Royce wouldn't be interesting without Isabel acting as a counterbalance, and Isabel's just too freaking non-psychopathic to survive there quite so long without him to watch her back. So there.

Pitch Black even has three interesting female characters heading it up. Ok, two of them get killed off to prove various points, and the third one is a kid who spends most of the film pretending to be a boy and idolising a psychopathic serial-killer, but hey - one of them is also Aussie Aeryn Sun! Obviously Vin Diesel completely steals practically every scene he pops up in, because he's a sneaky bastard like that, but he wouldn't have nearly as much traction if he wasn't up against Radha Mitchell's conflicted pilot. I mean, she starts the film by trying to kill the entire rest of the cast in a vain attempt to survive the crash she's piloting - and nearly succeeds. And then has to spend the rest of the film acting like she hasn't tried to sacrifice everyone to save herself, right before the delightful hammerhead dinosaur things decide to finish the job for her, and then she has to freaking save them all over again.

The notions of 'killer' and 'coward' are bandied around an awful lot between Fry and Johns and Riddick, before the whole junkie thing comes out - and yes, Fry is a coward who then proceeds to make amends for the entire rest of the film and save everybody else several times over. I mean, she could have been allowed to survive it, but it wouldn't have been nearly as powerful (that ending was in my head for weeks afterwards).  Johns is just, well, a chicken-shit junkie red-herring designed to distract us from Riddick's innate awesomeness by being all blond and heroic-looking and initially nice to Fry. And Riddick... well. He spends the first half of the film apparently finding cool places to pose freakily in the background, and then the rest of the time being an unbearably cool smart-arse. His redemption is pretty heavily won at the cost of Fry (WE DO NOT SPEAK OF THE SEQUEL) but it's Fry's choice, this time, to not make somebody else a sacrifice to keep herself safe (even if they are Riddick). She doesn't necessarily throw herself in the path of the monster as such, but she does go out knowing it's a risk - and it's mostly because Riddick tried to make her choose to leave the others behind already, and she nearly caved (and then they mud-wrestled).


Much, much rambling on Dredd )
jencat: (brain)
So: apparently Dredd is still stuck in my head, considering I saw it again within the space of 4 days... in 3D this time, which was mostly pointless aside from a few pretty exploding glass/blood/wtf slo-mo scenes.  3D is never getting any less murky, and I'm not seeing it anymore clearly than I ever was (GP lenses: never not racking up light flares and halos, what a surprise), so not entire logical.  But it was still a lot of fun... I'm still watching the trailer on Youtube (after seeing it twice already, wtf?!) And I kinda wanna see it a third time, which so did not expect to happen.

So, yeah, this is my overthinking all the minutae, I'm-getting-a-bit-obsessed slightly meta essay about Dredd. Again, did not see this coming.



much, much rambling on Dredd )


It's been a really, really good year for films so far.. I don't think I'd ever hit four repeat cinema trips for anything until MI4, and then Avengers went and made it a new record of 5 within a few months - which was almost odd, because a lot of what I could see were the problems first time I watched that.  Except you came out wanting to see it again right this second - so, two viewings in 4 days that time, and it just kept racking up.  And it never got boring, or repetitive, and if anything it gets better - which is good, because the DVD is arriving tomorrow :o)
jencat: (hello)
I wasn't particularly caring about seeing Dredd until the last lot of trailers kicked in - because, let's face it, I am old enough to remember the Stallone abomination of the 90s. And it was.. well, Dredd. And I'm not the target audience for 2000AD, whatever.

But the trailers... First off, La Roux never gets old (I'm still obsessed with the obscure game trailer that used another random mix of that song, because it's always awesome.).  And then there was the slo-mo... Which was shiny and pretty, and hey, I've sat through nearly everything Tarsem's done quite happily because of the crazy pretties, so no excuse really.  And honestly, it sold itself really really well - simple story, great talent involved doing what they do best (Karl Urban beating people to a pulp? check! Lena Headey being head bitch? double check!)

And as it turns out, I was really in the mood to see something like this.  Last weekend's double bill of Total Recall (good fun, if a bit meh, and some batshit crazy concepts of the laws of physics) and Expendables 2.... well, no, really, I can't believe anyone professionally wrote that script and got paid for it. Or that Simon fucking Con Air West directed it. Or that any of the cast were ever highly paid professional megastars at any point, whose films I used to mostly quite enjoy, because it felt like an excrutiating very expensive panto and I can't believe I stayed to the end. Ahem.

Dredd, though... I'm so impressed it lived up to the trailers. It was beautifully made, bone crunchingly gory (I have never seen so many bodily fluids fly through the air in slow motion in my entire life), and actually interesting stuff. It took a lot of risks - going for the 18 cert and sticking with it, when Chris Nolan is getting away with 12As; Karl Urban spending the entire film wearing the helmet, oddly enough - but it has that rare ring of authenticity to it.  Halfway through it suddenly dawned on me that this was showing the same scrappy enthusiasm about the source material as Avengers does; the kind of heady fanboying that infects the audience (if you're me, anyhoo. Lots of the reviews don't seem to get this, which is sad. Having said that, I hit a new record of 5 cinema viewings for Avengers, so hey).

What ruined a lot of reviews was the default position of "it's got the same plot as The Raid! Shame that came out first!" Well, hey, The Raid was awesome - bone-crunchingly impressive as a martial arts showcase, with the crazy headspace of a Welshman making an Indonesian beat-em-up.  It's just that, if you've actually watched The Raid, the genre focus is so different to Dredd that there are only the barest moments of comparison.


 Raid is about a guy being sent into a situation he doesn't understand, who just so happens to have mad fighting skillz that means he has a chance of surviving it when it all goes to hell, with a little soapy melodrama chucked in to heighten the tension.  It works like gangbusters, mostly in a whirl of fists and feet and bullets and heads being put through walls, plus the lead is scrappily adorable, with a lot to lose if he fails.



Dredd is altogether a different beast - it's the fun of watching an unstoppable force hit an unmovable object, and seeing what's left when the dust settles (gorgeously, in super slo-mo).  Dredd knows exactly what he's doing; he doesn't panic, doesn't lose faith in his own skill set, and will not stop so long as he's still breathing.  He has a fair bit in common with the Terminator, on occasion - no background necessary (and there are a couple of scenes that nod at the T1 similarities, which entertained me no end).  

We have Anderson being all cute rookie with shaggy hair and a very nifty sideline in brain melting for the emotional side of things. And that's all it needs.

I was so won over because it ends up being such an elegantly-made film - the plot twists as much around Anderson's first-day-on-the-job hesitant decision making progress (do love Dredd telling her how 20% of new Judge's don't survive their first day - way to inspire!) as Dredd's normal ineffable reaction to enforcing the law. There is nothing more to it then Dredd gets saddled with assessing Anderson, she decides they investigate the Peach Trees murders; they make an arrest rather than another execution and Ma-Ma locks them in to take them out. Things spiral, mostly in slow-mo. Things that would be spelled out in less clever films are left to be subtle here (leaving more time for bone-crunching, obv).  It's been pared down and it's all the stronger for it, so kudos to Alex Garland.  Methinks he's a Dredd fan; Karl Urban certainly seems to be, and it's strangely fun watching him determinedly re-set his mouth back to the trademark scowl every time he's forced to talk.




So, basically, I kinda loved it.

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Jennifer Howell

July 2015

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