The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 11.05.12 Issue #232 Dredd (2012)
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #232: Dredd (2012)
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been chased down an alley by a baseball wielding demonic skeleton, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and thirty two, I take a look at the new biggish budget comic book adaptation that was in theatres not that long ago,Dredd, directed by Pete Travis and starring Karl Urban.
Dredd is the second adaptation of the classic British comic book Judge Dredd. The first adaptation, 1995’s Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone, wasn’t a big hit, either critically or with audiences. It eventually became a kind of hit on TV (why else would HBO and Cinemax have it on all the time?), but it seems to be remembered as a wholesale failure (for the love of God, Stallone took off his Judge Dredd helmet! Judge Dredd would never do that in the comic book!). This new movie, which wasn’t a big hit theatrically, either, hones a little closer to the comic book and, to a certain extent, feels like an issue of 2000 A.D. or Judge Dredd Megazine come to life. As cool as that may be (and it is kind of cool), it probably wasn’t the right approach for director Travis and company to go. The movie probably would have been more successful if it held back a little bit on the Judge Dredd character, made another character the focus of the story, and gone with a different title. More on that in a bit.
The movie takes place in a post apocalyptic future where America is an “irradiated wasteland.” What’s left of American humanity is shoved into gigantic cities called “Mega Cities.” Public order is kept by “the judges,” cops that act as judge, jury, and executioner. Mega City One, which stretches from the old Boston to Washington D.C., is where Judge Dredd (Urban), the most feared and revered of the judge corps, operates. While evaluating a new potential judge, the young psychic female Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), Dredd investigates a gruesome murder by the evil drug gang of the notorious Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). The murder investigation leads Dredd and Anderson to Ma-Ma’s main hideout, a big building in the middle of the city that Ma-Ma completely controls. Without back-up, Dredd and Anderson take Ma-Ma’s gang head on. It’s a difficult slog through each level of the complex as Ma-Ma’s gang is heavily armed and Anderson isn’t as experienced in police combat as Dredd. But when it comes to a guy like Judge Dredd, the only thing that’s going to stop him is a bullet to the head (or a grenade down the pants). Judge Dredd is the law, and he will mete out justice one way or another.
The general look of the movie is impressive. Mega City looks futuristic but not too futuristic. There’s a real sense that, when it comes to some things, society didn’t advance all that much from the moment the bombs dropped and the old world ended. Ma-Ma’s building is also quite the hell hole. It sort of resembles the building at the heart of The Raid: Redemption, just nastier and more dangerous. There’s also a palpable sense of life being tenuous and regular people just getting by. If the radiation doesn’t get you and the gangs don’t destroy you, a Judge will shoot you on sight or throw you in the “cubes” (prison). And what happens to you when you die? Your body gets “recycled” (the movie doesn’t go into what that means exactly, but just the thought of a dead human body being “reused” for some reason is creepier than hell). No wonder people like using “slo mo,” the drug that makes Ma-Ma rich and her gang feared.
The flick’s action scenes are all well done, and the violence on screen can be quite gruesome at times. The smashed body on the ground scene is a great example of what kind of world Dredd and Anderson inhabit, and the body dropping that Ma-Ma’s gang engages in when it comes to teaching people lessons is horrendous. And the scene where Ma-Ma uses that gigantic gun in her own building, on her own people, as she’s trying to kill Dredd is a definite “wow” moment.
The performances are all decent. Urban does a good job as Dredd. He isn’t as physically impressive as Stallone’s Dredd, but Urban’s Dredd isn’t meant to be a giant killer. Urban exudes an overall menace and authority that makes you sit up and take notice the second you see him. His voice should have been a little more forceful, though. Thirlby is good as Anderson, the psychic judge newbie that isn’t quite sure she wants to become a judge in the first place. It’s a little weird at first that she refuses to wear her judge helmet, as Dredd and the other judges that show up in later in the movie never take them off, but you get used to that as the movie progresses.
Lena Headey is excellent as the evil Ma-Ma. Like Urban, she isn’t physically impressive, but she gives of an aura of general nastiness that makes you weary of her immediately. The scar on her face helps complete the picture. And how about the way she treats that computer nerd guy played by Domhnall Gleeson? Disturbing.
Now, how I think the movie could have been improved. The Judge Dredd character is cool and all, but because he has no apparently like outside of being a judge and refuses to remove his helmet it’s difficult to root for him and identify with him. The movie should have spent some time explaining what the helmet thing is all about. The movie also should have made Dredd the defacto sidekick of the Anderson character, someone you can actually relate to in a broad sense. She’s new to the judge job and she’s different from everyone else. We’ve all been in that kind of situation. How often have any of us been the ultimate badass in real life? And if you make Anderson the main character you can leave Dredd to the important stuff, mainly killing the bad guys, and he doesn’t have to carry the movie’s emotional core, at least deliberately.
I also would have changed the judge costumes to make them a little less “comic booky.” I would have made them a little boxier and a little more in tune with Mega City One’s surroundings. I know that the judges are supposed to be above everyone as they are the law but they shouldn’t stand out so much from everyone else to the point that it looks like the judges are acting in a movie and everyone else is a bystander watching the movie get made. The judge motorcycle isn’t as impressive as it should be, either.
And then there’s the title. Why isn’t the movie titled Mega City? Isn’t that title more indicative of what the movie is about?
We’re probably not going to see a Dredd 2, which is a damn shame because, despite my issues with the movie, I would love to see another cinematic go around in Mega City, with Urban’s Judge Dredd kicking ass and taking names. It’s worth exploring more. We could, I guess, get a low budget, direct-to-DVD sequel one day, but that won’t be the same. It won’t have the scope of Dredd.
If Dredd, by some miracle, is still playing at a theatre near you and you haven’t seen it, do it as soon as you can. If it isn’t, get it when it hits home video. It’s worth checking out.
See Dredd. See it, see it, see it.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: 40+ (it’s got to be at least that high)
Nudity?: I don’t remember any. There could have been, though.
Doobage: A futuristic American wasteland, a cop getting dressed for work, heavy traffic, bad guys taking a drug that makes you think you’re living in slow motion, a van attack, a wild flipping van. dead and bloody bodies, a flame bullet through the mouth with burning head, a food court, psychic hooey, a chick taking a bath in slow motion, bloody bondage, homeless, smashed brains, eye removal, slow motion exploding door, slow motion bullet hit to a fat guy, attempted interrogation, a bloody ambush, an automatic security wall, homeless killing, a rolling stun grenade, a police execution at point blank range, a dream flashback sex scene, big ass machine guns, random killing of innocent people, a hysterical beating, face smashing, urination via fear, knife on skin, stupid teenagers with guns, incendiary grenade, back up, fucking around, exploding hand, up close and personal machine gun to the face, face chunking, exploding head, a basic field dressing, self surgery, a wrist thing, body out the window, and a cool ending.
Kim Richards?: Big time.
Gratuitous: Futuristic American wasteland, Karl Urban, Karl Urban never taking his helmet off, nasty street crime, body recycling, psychic hooey, stuff happening deliberately in slow motion, nasty, bloody violence, smashed brains, homeless killing, big ass machine guns, random killing of innocent people, urination via fear, stupid teenagers with guns, exploding hand, up close and personal machine gun to the face, face chunking, exploding head, a basic field dressing, self surgery, and a cool ending.
Best lines: “America is an irradiated wasteland,” “Do you require backup? No,” “Bike: activate ground control,” “Negotiation is over,” “Thank you, Judge,” “She’s a mutant?,” “It’s all a deep end,” “Do you know how often we get judges up in the Peach Trees?,” “That one is still breathing,” “Sir, he’s thinking about making a move for your gun. Yeah,” “Warned you. Get up, you’re going to the cubes,” “I advise you hold your breath,” “I’m not raising any alarms,” “That’s not good,” “So, you’re a mutant?,” “There’s no way they survived,” “What are you up to, bitch?,” “Freeze! Why? Why what? Why should I freeze?,” “How do you want it, kids? Body bags or juvie cubes? Makes no difference to me,” “I am the law,” “How the fuck are we going to stop this guy? Call 911,” “Choke on it, Dredd!,” “What’s the price of a judge these days?,” “You’re a piece of work, Dredd,” and “Anderson, your assessment is over.”
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!
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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column endorses Barack Obama for President
The big U.S. Presidential election is tomorrow, and at the moment it’s a toss up as to who will win. Will President Barack Obama be reelected, or will former Massachusetts Governor Willard “Mitt” Romney win the big prize? The Republican party and its legion of ultra right wing religious fanatics and “pro business” psychopaths definitely want Obama to go. According to them, President Obama is a demonic socialist just hankering to turn the United States into Europe (Greece!) or some version of Venezuela (he’s just a thinner, taller version of Hugo Chavez!). He’s going to force everyone to stop believing in Jesus, he’s going to take away your guns, force your kids and the military to learn how to fist, and, depending on which ultra right wing constituency you talk to, make us surrender to the Chinese or the Islamists (he’ll also send a gang of minority youth to your house to mug you). The President may have a huge black guy cock to rape your wife and son with, but he just refuses to wave it in the face of Vladimir Putin and show American strength. Mitt Romney will do that and more with his “big” white guy cock.
This whole thing is bullshit.
President Obama has done a pretty decent job as leader of the free world, and he deserves another term in office. The economy is better than it was when he came into office, the country didn’t slide into a massive depression, he saved the American automobile industry, he sent in the SEALS to kill Osama bin Laden, and he hasn’t started a new war with anyone and really isn’t hankering to do so. That’s why The Gratuitous B-Movie Column is endorsing the President for reelection.
What will happen if Romney wins? For one thing, the teabaggers will get absolutely everything they want. Romney won’t be able to tell them they’re insane because he’ll need them to get anything done (Romney can’t run for reelection if all he has is a four year record of party infighting and massive gridlock because he decided not to push to end abortion. And the Republicans in the House will still be in the majority, and as they’ve shown since they’ve been in power they have absolutely no problem hunkering down and battling over total bullshit). And do you really want to live in a world where the “religious sensitivities” of ultra right wing yahoos matters more than anything else?
And do you really want to go war with Iran? That’ll happen at some point in a Romney administration. John Bolton will demand it.
Obama isn’t perfect, nor is he an out and out progressive. But he’s the only one worth voting for.
Vote for Barack Obama tomorrow. Don’t let the wackos win.
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
– They Live: Collector’s Edition: It’s about damn time this John Carpenter classic got a proper DVD release, with special features and whatnot. The commentary track with Carpenter and star Roddy Piper will likely be worth the price alone. The fine folks at Synapse Films are responsible for this DVD. It’s going to be awesome.
– The Amazing Spider-Man: I saw this when it came out last summer. The 3D was kind of lame, but the movie as a whole was good. Garfield does a decent job as Peter Parker. I’m not sure, though, if I completely buy the whole “massive conspiracy” thing that was hinted at during the end credits scene. Does this franchise reboot really need something like that to make people want to come see a sequel?
– Maximum Conviction: Steven Seagal and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin appear together in this low budget action flick for the first time ever, so right there it’s automatically a must see. I can’t wait to check this out. Seagal hasn’t been a movie seemingly forever.
– [REC] 3: Genesis: The third installment of the [REC] series did get some sort of theatrical run not that long ago, and the reviews were both okay and scathing (the New York Times reviewer really didn’t care for it, but then that paper very rarely likes low budget genre movies anyway). I think this looks pretty decent. Messed up, yes (all of the [REC] movies have been messed up), but decent.
– The Pact: This is apparently some sort of low budget evil ghost/spirit movie featuring the great Casper Van Dien in some sort of role. It apparently has been getting relatively good reviews (the trailer features some of the critical raves). And it’s from the fine folks at IFC. Yeah for the movie.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
And this one, of course:
And now, some election themes to rock out on:
And now, the weekly Fearnet update
Fearnet, the only free all horror/thriller On Demand TV network features uncut, uncensored horror flicks from the past and present 24 hours a day, seven days a week, pretty much any time you freaking want them (as long as you still have power, that is). The channel also has behind-the-scenes stuff, trailers, and other cool hooey for you to check out. Check your local cable listings for availability (According to the Fearnetwebsite more and more Time Warner and Cox Cable areas are getting the channel. Be sure to go here to see if Fearnet is coming to your area). At the moment, Hatchet, Laid to Rest, and two John Carpenter classics, Vampires and Ghosts of Mars are on Fearnet OnDemand. How awesome is that?
Fearnet also exists as a regular old TV channel. This Fearnet airs horror movies roughly twenty one hours a day (there is a block of infomercials in the morning, usually from 6-9am est). The movies shown do have “commercial breaks” in them, similar to the breaks that currently appear on IFC, but the movies are uncut (blood and boobs and cursing are all intact).
Fearnet’s website, fearnet.com, offers free movies, interviews, news, and other behind-the-scenes horror movie nerd stuff, too. The great Blood & Donuts was on the site last week. Is it still there? Check and see).
The website also features Post Mortem with Mick Garris, a nifty interview show where big, fat Stephen King’s favorite director talks with genre legends like John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Roger Corman, and others. It’s definitely worth your time.
If you’re a Facebook nerd (and, really, today, who isn’t?) you can check out the Fearnet fans Facebook page, which can be seen here. There are plenty of people out there interested in Fearnet. Join them. And, as always, thanks to both Mark Lindsey and Mathew Hirsch for info regarding the Fearnet fan movement.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Olivia Thirlby
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
– American Nightmare: This is some sort of low budget Canadian slasher movie from the very early 198o’s (imdb claims that the movie was made in 1981 but wasn’t released until 1983). The great Michael Ironside is in this, so that’s a plus. Check out the scene below (I couldn’t find a proper trailer for it anywhere). What do you think? Cool? Not cool?
– Elvira’s Movie Macabre: Mega Movie Marathon: A twelve movie mega pack of Elvira’s last show? Oh fuck yeah! If you didn’t get any of the previous single DVD releases get this one instead. It’s got everything.
I know I’ve said this before but, man, the world needs Elvira again.
– Death Ship: This is some sort of weird beard horror flick from the very early 1980’s, with the great George Kennedy and Richard Crenna. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this (I’m watched the trailer three times and I just can’t remember any of it), but it does look, well, pretty weird. Anyone out there see this?
– Outpost: Black Sun: The first Outpost movie, starring the great Ray Stevenson, was an okay low budget horror action movie (check out my review of the flick here), and its sequel looks essentially the same. Clive Russell is in it, so that’s kind of cool.
– Breaking In: The Complete Series: I was pretty stoked when Fox announced that it was bringing back this sitcom for a second season, and I was pretty annoyed when Fox decided to drop the show after only a few second season episodes. At least Fox is putting the entire show out on DVD. Why the heck was Megan Mullally brought into the show?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to ultra right wing Christian psychopath, TV and radio show host and former politician Mike Huckabee, for participating in the following political ad:
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such religiously insane bullshit in all my life. What the fuck is wrong with Mike Huckabee and the sacks of shit at the Value Voters USA organization? Stand the test of fire? I’m shocked there isn’t a quick scene in there of Huckabee playing the guitar. I bet that shit is happening in heaven.
Why do so many people want to live in a medieval theocracy? I mean, what do they get out of it? Some deep sense of self satisfaction?
And then there’s the former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Willard “Mitt” Romney, for lying about Chrysler’s plans for a Jeep plant in Ohio and then, after being called out on it, acting defensive about it. I know Willard has no interest in “fact checkers” and whatnot, but isn’t this the kind of thing that would normally automatically disqualify you from being a serious candidate? Where the hell is the “liberal” media on this?
Oh, wait, I forgot. That’s partisanship. Facts aren’t real things. There’s a horse race going on here. That’s what’s most important.
Jesus Christ, are people really thinking about voting for this asshole tomorrow?
And finally there’s the Board of Directors of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for firing Randy Bernard because he… well, the IMS Board really hasn’t come out and said what, specifically, Bernard did to warrant his removal as CEO of the Izod Indycar Series. But if you read this and this by the Speed Channel’s Marshall Pruett, you get the sense that the drivers and car owners really aren’t interested in growing the series at all. More money? More general media and sports media coverage? That’s just not how the series does business.
Hopefully, one say soon Bernard will be able to say what was said to him right before he was fired and what the climate was like in the pits and whatnot. We’d all like to know, first hand, what the real deal is. At the moment, this whole things stinks. What the hell is the series going to do if the fans who have said they’re not supporting the series anymore because of this shit actually do leave and don’t come back? How can you grow with a sizeable loyal fan base? How?
Again, this whole things stinks. Big time.
NASCAR and Indycar thoughts
The NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas yesterday didn’t get interesting until the very end. At the start of the race it was all about pole sitter Jimmie Johnson. The five time champion was fast and had momentum after winning last week at Martinsville, and at the start he was the guy to beat. Non-Chase driver Kyle Busch was fast, too, and spent most of the early part of the race trying to keep pace with Johnson. Second place points man Brad Keselowski, who really needed to have a good day, started in the back and raced his way towards the front. He managed to get up front, along with Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon, but it was still all about Johnson.
And then the last fifty laps happened. Several cautions both bunched the field up and caused teams to engage in some “out there” pit strategy? Two tires and track position or four tires and speed? Keselowski took two tires and Johnson took four. Keselowski didn’t have the speed that Johnson and the others that took four tires had, but he was able to hold everyone off. But then Carl Edwards wrecked Mark Martin, setting up a green-white-checkered finish that was bound to be a barn burner, especially after the previous restart. Keselowski tried valiantly to hold Johnson back, but Johnson was too fast on the outside. Now, with two wins in a row, Johnson holds a seven point lead over Keselowski going into Phoenix on Sunday. Will Keselowski be able to muster up the speed to beat the five-time champion? Does he have it in him?
Texas is still a single file track for the most part when it comes to NASCAR stock cars. The cars seemed a little more racy at the end of the race when the lights came on. Maybe NASCAR should look into finding a way to race at night at Texas. The Indycars kick ass when they race at night at Texas, and the Camping World Trucks Series seems to be able to race side-by-side when the lights come on. Something for Texas and Mike Helton to think about.
I didn’t get a chance to watch the Nationwide Series race on Saturday night (I was too busy watching the World of Outlaws Sprints and Late Models and Dirt Modifieds on Speed and a movie on the Hallmark Channel) but from what I’ve read it was quite the event. Kevin Harvick ended up winning the race, and now the points are tied between Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Elliott Sadler. I’m shocked that Sadler is in the position he’s in now. What the heck happened to him?
All three of NASCAR’s major series will be racing at Phoenix this weekend, with the Trucks on Friday night, the Nationwide Series on Saturday, and Sprint Cup on Sunday. Should be a good weekend.
Over in Indycar, besides the disgraceful firing of Randy Bernard, the big news is Simona de Silvestro becoming a part of KV Racing for 2013. After suffering through a terrible 2012 with the severely underpowered Lotus engine package, de Silvestro should be more competitive with KV’s Chevy power. She’s pretty decent on the road courses, and with Tony Kanaan as her teammate she should become better on the ovals. It’ll be interesting to see if that happens.
We should get some news on new teams for 2013 in the coming weeks. We’ll also hopefully find out more about the firing of Randy Bernard and who is in line to become the CEO of the Indycar Series, It would also be nice to find out who, specifically, wanted Bernard gone. Who is the biggest piece of shit in the toilet?
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 3
– Dogman: A mega low budget horror movie about a werewolf or some kind of werewolf like creature? Why the hell wouldn’t I want to watch it?
– Louie Anderson: Big Baby Boomer: The great Louie Anderson is back with another stand up special. Did this air on TV at some point? Did CMT air it? Where the heck was I? Anyone see this?
– Bad Bush: This is apparently some sort of low budget Australian movie. The trailer looks pretty nifty, and based on that alone I’m willing to give it a rental at some point.
Well, I think that’ll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there’s anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I’m always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
Karl Urban– Judge Dredd
Olivia Thirlby– Anderson
Lena Headey– Ma-Ma
Warrick Grier– Caleb
Wood Harris– Kay
Rakie Ayola– Chief Judge
Domhnall Gleeson– Clan Techie
Directed by Pete Travis
Screenplay by Alex Garland, based on characters created by Carlos Ezquerra and John Wagner
Distributed by Lionsgate
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content
Runtime– 95 minutes