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Long Live the Chin,
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This review is from: Dredd [DVD] (DVD)
I was a massive Dredd fan in my early teens, and when I first heard that Mega City's finest was about to appear in a major Hollywood movie I could scarcely contain my excitement. It's fair to say that while Sylvester Stallone wouldn't have been my first choice for the role, I kept an open mind and - like so many other young Earthlets - handed over my pocket money at the cinema in anticipation of the thrill of a lifetime. This isn't really the place to talk about the shortcomings of that particular adaptation, but needless to say I was hugely disappointed. Call me fickle, but it wore me down so much trying to convince people the film was nothing like the comic books that I eventually felt like some whiney runt who needed to get a life. My subscription to 2000AD expired without me even noticing, and suddenly (completely without warning) I was listening to moody rock music and desperately trying to get girls to notice me. It would be many years before I even gave Dredd a second thought.
Then, a couple of years ago, I saw a billboard for this movie while making my way to work. At the time, the sheer volume of comic book adaptations hitting the big screen put me off seeing it - and after the Stallone debacle I couldn't help wondering if Dredd would be safer remaining firmly and resolutely on the printed page. But, having heard great things about this film from my friends, I cautiously decided to give it a go. I'm glad I did: this film is FANTASTIC.
Dredd takes place over the course of a single day, in one location. Sounds dull, huh? No way. Not only does this build up tension and atmosphere, it also allows everything that happens to be as a result of the characters' ethical choices - not simply because of plot demands. Dredd, played marvellously by Karl Urban, is the same rugged, hard-nosed bastard we've grown to love ever since he first appeared in the pages of 2000AD. The film doesn't soften or betray him in any way; he's a product of this harsh, unforgiving world and represents the necessities/excesses of a police state gone haywire. In a very smart move, Judge Anderson, beautifully brought to life by Olivia Thirlby, becomes the audience identification figure. We see Mega City One and the rigors of bringing law to lawlessness in this nightmare world through her eyes. For 95 minutes, we're trapped in Peach Trees mega-block with our protagonists, negotiating our way through a maze of concrete and bullets - and it's utterly gripping. The dialogue is taut, sometimes urgent, but never clunky, and tells us just enough without being exposition heavy. It also gives the actors a great degree of scope in bringing their characters to life. While Alex Garland's remarkable screenplay gives very little away about the terrifying Ma-Ma, portrayed with great relish by Lena Headey, we understand her motivations (and even personal demons) right from the off.
There are so many more things I could tell you, but I've done enough gushing (other reviewers can tell you more about how the movie accurately reflects the world of the comic books, not to mention how stunning the cinematography is). All that's left for me to say is, give this film a go - you won't be disappointed.