(Planet Me)
Monday, September 10, 2012
DREDD (18)

About. Drokking. Time.

If you've never read 2000AD, then you know nothing of Dredd. If you've seen the appalling 1995 film, you know nothing of Dredd. That film was an incoherent toddler trying to speak English in a temper tantrum. THE EVIDENCE HASH BEEHN FALSIFYED!

This film. This is Dredd. Whilst imperfect, Dredd is a confident, fast, and faithful film. Never has any film captured a source text quite so well. It is utterly in keeping with the spirit and the tone of the comic. Karl Urban is Dredd. He's simply a chin and a mouth and a body, and some stubble, and that is all you need. He is Dredd. The way you always imagined him to be. Fierce, laconic, dry, and a badass motherfucker unafraid to turn men into hamburgers to uphold civilisation.

Never has any film ever captured the dystopian world envisaged by the comic writers quiet so well. The dystopian world that sat on inky black & white pages, smudged in hairdressers and on 45p pages with green neon spinners covermounted, the world that we could only smell and hear in our imaginations : this world looks real. It envelopes the viewer from the screen with a confident, even arrogant, use of film techniques to immerse. The 3D is used effectively and sparingly to heighten the effect of the vast visual smorgasboard of violence, drugs, bodily fluids, and the rancid aftertaste of mass deprivation.

Dredd is imperfect. By absolute standards, it is visibly suffering from a reduced budget. The exterior shots lack the oppressive claustrophobia of the original comic. The technology is just far enough ahead of the current day, but also, too close to today to be a genuinely loyal Sci-Fi. An extra few million might have made all the difference in the FX budget. But then again, that probably would've meant that this had to be a sanitised PG-13 piece of shit.

It also suffers by association, slightly with “The Raid”. Insomuch as both films have broadly similar plots : then again, “Armageddon” and ”Deep Impact” were both broadly similar films that appeared at roughly the same time. The plot is slender, but then again, Dredd was never about intra-generational crime syndicates, overall, but a dense world of futuristic politics, corruption, and opressions-through-poverty that is seen largely in microsm of isolated criminal enterprises.

And the jargon. And the sentencing. Absolutely perfect. Three years in an iso-cube, perp. We never see the Iso-cube. But I wish we did. The world of Dredd has only barely been scratched. There is so much more to see. But I know we have seen enough to know that they have it 99% right. And what did they get right?

The violence. This is some of the most gorgeously pointless and beautiful violence ever committed to the screen. The human body becomes a playground of organs rearranged, remixed, and removed for our pleasure. I don't think I've ever seen bullet impacts quite so visceral, quite so brutal, or so profoundly gratituitous. Even when Dredd realises, in a moment that destroys the broken film logic of the Infinite-Ammo-Clip, that every shot absolutely must hit, the violence does not cease : just become more imaginative. Incendiary. Heatseeker. Carpetbomb. Hotshot.

I never realised how many ways someone could die until I watched this. This glorious triumph of film-making where they no longer pussyfoot around namby-pampy sanitised, boring bullshit to get a PG-13 rating. And, at the heart of it, it isn't just a spectacular display of violence, but a densely, clevely plotted work that escalates each moment, follows the rule of Chekov's Gun, and ratchets the stakes as the film progresses like an old-fashion platformer from level to level. The character interaction is somewhat minimal, but the respective abilities of individuals and the occasionally thin Id's show just enough depth to hint at being fully formed. But this is a fully formed world, and it rampages on as it goes, barraging ceaselessly towards the ultimate confrontation.

A relatively intelligent, unapologetically violent, gloriously stylistic miasma of violence and dystopian brutality, Dredd is not only the most faithful page-to-screen comic book adaptation that has been yet committed, but is also proof that films with sizable budgets, adult themes, and the brazen brass balls to deliver on the promise of a grown up tale in a grown up manner, are not just risks, but also, a silly, violent, good film. I'm tired of being treated like a child scared of loud noises and violence when I want to see action films. I'm overjoyed to be treated as an adult again. Bring it on. A sequel beckons.

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