Without hesitation, I can say that Dredd is the best comic book movie of 2012. Put away your bat-shaped pitchforks and mighty hammers so that you can hear me out. Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers were both considered fantastic epics that were the culmination of years of build-up. Both were huge and explosive. When you walk out of the theater, you comment on what a rush it was. Then what do you walk away with?

Dredd is a much smaller film. Not only is the budget smaller but the length doesn’t even attempt to touch the other two films. If the other two films were explosives, then Dredd was a bullet from a sniper rifle. It is exactly that precision that I appreciate about the film.

Absent from Dredd is an overstated soundtrack. Also absent are picturesque shots showing off its stars. This film features Karl Urban (Star Trek (2009 film)) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), but they are rendered unrecognizable. The movie does not pull the characters out of the action so they can have five minute conversations meant to convey to the audience who the characters are. Every moment of every scene and every piece of dialogue tells the audience exactly who the characters are. Not a moment is wasted.

The understated nature of the film also serves the purpose of showing the audience just how big the world is. Most of the film takes place in a 200-story slum tower in Mega-City One. Judge Dredd is sent on assignment, and the film sees it through till the end – all in about a day’s time. And that’s it. This violent adventure is just another day in Mega-City One, another city in the post apocalyptic world. The world is a violent and corrupt place, but there are people in it who are trying to make it better. What did Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers tell you about their worlds? For as large as those films were, you could only get a sense of their respective cities.

Despite the film’s strengths, it will likely die a swift and agonizing death in the theater. The extreme violence and occasional sexuality put this in the strong R category, which is likely why the advertising for the film has been so minimal. When I saw the film on opening weekend, the local theater had only eight showings of the film – four each for 2D and 3D. New releases tend to get more…but Dredd apparently did not make the cut. Karl Urban and writer Alex Garland are hopeful for a sequel, but $6.3 million in the first weekend for a film that cost $45 million will more than likely dash those hopes. But at least the film will very quickly develop a cult following, and maybe the home media sales will convince a studio to move forward on another one.

But a cult following has to start somewhere. If you appreciate science fiction action films, are not turned off by violence and (extremely brief) sex, and want to see an understated masterpiece, then you obviously need to put some money into this film.

About Gospel X

Media commentator who tries not to waste time - and often fails

Posted on September 25, 2012, in Bechdel pass, comics, cult status nominee, movies, review, science fiction, scifi and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’m really interested in seeing this movie, but you’ve made a bold claim about this movie being “better” than the other two movies. It seems like Dredd is a completely different kind of film than the other two, which are both distinctly different from each other. It’s like comparing apples, oranges and kiwi. Sure they are all fruit, but how similar does that really make them?
    At any rate, im very interested in this movie.

    • You should definitely make it a point to check out the movie as soon as you can, before it is prematurely removed from theaters.

      You are right, the movies are all quite different. Dark Knight Rises is clearly a noir-ish drama and The Avengers is an action comedy. Dredd is something else entirely. But they’re all movies inspired by comics, so they must inevitably be compared. Of the comic book movies, Dredd is the one that I feel is the best film overall. I know how bold a claim that is, but it’s easy to make bold claims about one’s opinion. Now it’s a matter of how much my opinion resonates with yours.

      • Good point. I stand corrected. I’m hoping that it will come to one of our $3 theaters here after it leaves the main ones. I can’t really afford movie prices these days

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