Thursday, 18 October 2012

Dredd 3D - Pete Travis (2012)

  1. Dredd 3D is the second feature to be based on Judge Dredd, a comic book character from the British sci-fi weekly 2000AD.
  2. Don't worry, it's much better than the Sylvester Stallone turkey, which, ok, didn't set the bar terribly high.
  3. This film was put together with a budget of around $50 million. That sounds like a lot of money, but compare it with Prometheus's budget of $130 million or Avatar's of $237 million and you can see that, although not quite made on a shoe-string, this is toward the lower end of the scale for a sci-fi action movie on general release. Incidentally, the absolute winner of bang-for-buck sci-fi has to be Moon, which meets the highest standards of excellence and cost a mere $5 million to make. 
  4. A lot of this film was shot live, rather than created with CGI and this occasionally gives the set-pieces a  lazer-quest-with-live-ammo feel. It's probably occurred to you that CGI is actually the enemy of sci-fi  - because it prevents either the director, or the audience, from having to use their imagination - practically the whole reason anyone is in the cinema in the first place.*
  5. What the Grudd? Dredd never wields his daystick, there also aren't enough robots in Megacity One and Dredd's Lawmaster bike doesn't have either foot-wide tires or the long Harley-type handle bars and forks which are its identifying features.  A lot of 2000AD readers (or Squaxx dek Thargo as they like to be known) won't like this. But then they're not a hugely influential demographic, from a cultural POV.
  6. Hmm that actress playing the brutal matriarch Ma-Ma looks familiar, and it's not just because she bears a passing resemblance to Kiera Knightley if only Kiera Knightley were somehow able to act. She is of course Lena Headey who plays the brutal matriarch Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones. And who's that playing the ruthless, intelligent thug, Kay, but Wood Harris who plays the ruthless, intelligent thug Avon Barksdale in The Wire. You may also recognise the plot, which is a combination of the films Training Day and The Raid. None of this really matters during the action sequences which seem to have come fully-formed from the mind of a delirious psychopath having just the best day ever.
  7. The idea for Slo-Mo, a drug which slows one's experience of time to 1/60 speed, was allegedly inspired by watching nature documentaries in HD. Isn't it a cool thought that, in a world where people have run out of space, a hallucinogen that could slow down time would become massively popular? If you'd like to reproduce the effects of Slo-Mo in real life your best bet is probably yage or just some good old lysergic acid diethylamide.
  8. The film was written by Alex Garland who wrote The Beach. I know, you haven't been this excited since All Saints reformed. But Garland hasn't just been taking shamanistic drugs and watching box sets for the last 15 years: he also wrote 28 Days Later, and Sunshine. And somehow managed to get himself paid one million pounds sterling to write a script for a Halo film that has so far never been made. Nice work if you can get it.
  9. Some people think that since Dredd was conceived in Britain during the late 70s at a time of civil unrest and widespread police brutality the character must be a satirical commentary on those two things. But the writers of Dredd bring too much naked relish to his behaviour for that. Is it possible that the kind of bearded, real-ale drinking Hawkwind fans who write 2000AD are also exactly the kind of people who'd happily kick to death kids who listen to grime out loud on their mobiles? Why do you think shy sci-fi people love sci-fi? That's right, it's because they find the present intolerable.
  10. Olivia Thirlby puts in a great and sensitive performance as Judge Cassandra Anderson. This is no mean feat. In the comics she always seemed like she'd been designed by a 15 year old pervert. A female authority figure whose working clothes consist of a roll of black cling film and a zip and who, at any given moment, knows exactly what you're thinking.
*see also the difference between Star Wars and Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith. Prometheus and Alien. Or in fact Prometheus and virtually any other film that didn't go straight to DVD.