MOVIE REVIEW: DREDD vs JUDGE DREDD???!!!!

Mostly on the impetus of some strongly positive reviews from podcasts I’ve listened to, I managed to catch the film DREDD, at one of the last theaters it was still playing at in my area. Left to my own impetus, I would have waited to rent it free at the library.

Having just seen it I can say that would have been the right decision. I didn’t like the film, and perhaps more accurately I didn’t enjoy the film.

The dictionary defines vile as morally debased, depraved or despicable; and that’s the word that came to mind while watching DREDD.

I understand violence and action, I am very much a child of the cinema of Sam Peckinpah and John Woo. But Action and violence must always be rooted in some moral underpinning, some moral compass, it must be part of a larger tapestry of a story to have some resonance or meaning or point. It must have heroes.

A violent film devoid of any of that, for me has always been the true definition of pornography. It is NATURAL BORN KILLERS or SIN CITY or insert garbage film here. It is an ugly video game.

That’s what DREDD was to me in the summation, an ugly, rudderless video game. Part of this wave of movies that is about Police launching paramilitary style raids in civilian centers and killing indiscriminately.

I like JUDGE DREDD in the comic book format, his stories are short and pithy, and the world and violence he dispenses more cartoony and satiric. He is something not to take too seriously, and is often slightly buffoonish. However, this film is a very ugly and graphic portrayal, and none of it sat well with me.

In many ways our fictional heroes and films define us, I know they certainly defined me growing up. We are socialized into what is acceptable by the codes of our heroes. DREDD is a film where the title character engages in police brutality/torture, mass murder and maiming, and all of it done with a seeming arbitrariness and lack of reflection, that makes both character and film… soulless.

And also because so much of the history of film has to do with reinforcing and creating stereotypes, I’m also very aware of color coded films. Films where any substantive male Black characters are presented villainized and when possible denigrated. Films with Black faces, but White messages. ‘Police Brutality against Blacks is acceptable and humorous’ to go by the giggling in some parts of the audience during scenes in DREDD, and the emasculation of the only substantive Black Man in the film by having him get beat up by the White men and women around him.

If his treatment was counterpointed by actively, strong Black Male characters in the film that would have made his treatment a story point, but devoid of any strong positive Black male images in the film, the treatment of the sole substantive Black Male character becomes a focal point. It becomes a message.

It becomes a new age Minstrel show. Black faces and White messages. And it is sad that there are always actors of color hungry enough to take such roles and debase themselves to make certain people through their fiction feel less threatened in the facts of their lives.

We are socialized by these messages. There is no stronger socialization tool for our young (and if you don’t think the young will be seeing this movie on DVD and TV you are mistaken). Movies make a billion dollars worldwide because they speak to people. They can move and shape people.

But we must always be wary of the language they speak to us in, and what they shape us to be.

So for that reason, and the lack of a hero, the lack of any real story, the indiscriminate meat grinder killing of bystanders, and the general seamy atmosphere, DREDD is a movie I did not hate, but I did not like. It was an unsatisfying meal, and one I will not be trying again.

I much prefer the Stallone JUDGE DREDD to be honest, yes it has the awful Rob Schneider in it, but him aside, I like Stallone’s Dredd, and I like some of the scenes in that movie a lot. My favorite being the Judge’s walk into the cursed Earth. There’s a heart to the goofy Stallone JUDGE DREDD movie that I will take over the heartless nature of this new DREDD movie.

So, final grade: C-. A technically well done movie, but a morally bankrupt one. Rent it if you’re curious and can get it from your local library for free, but not worth buying.

35 praised films that completely disappointed me+ 10 derided films that I Enjoy!

    35 praised films that completely disappointed me


TRIANGLE- 1st 15 mins is intriguing, once they hit the ship, tedious does not begin to describe it. A 30 minute twilight zone episode stretched to feature length

Taken (2008/I)- Overrated. See instead MAN ON FIRE (known as FLAMES OF VENGEANCE in the Portuguese poster shown) or DIE HARD LIVE FREE or 16 BLOCKS.

Man on Fire / Out of Time
Man on Fire (Two-Disc Collector’s Edition) (See all Crime Movies & TV)

TAKING OF PELHAM 123 2009- See the original instead

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (See all Suspense Movies & TV)

HOSTAGE- fantastic opening credit sequence but goes down hill from there

There Will Be Blood (2007)- despised it. See instead GIANT or NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.

HURT LOCKER- overrated and ultimately empty. See instead GREEN ZONE.

Rogue- Insipid, boring and idiotic crocodile film.

Primevil- Crocodile movie. Mediocre

From Within (2008)- Intriguing beginning that unfortunately paints itself into a haphazard and unsatisfying conclusion. Suicide, religious fundamentalism, witchcraft, and mysterious deaths, intriguing build up that chokes on the ending. See instead THE CHILDREN

Children (See all Mystery Movies & TV)

The Abandoned (2006)- looks great, but ultimately pointless and empty. See instead SAUNA


Sauna

PREDATORS- Weak script, weak performances, Adrian Brody is miscast and offers a poor performance. See instead PREDATOR, PREDATOR II, or ENEMY MINE

DOG SOLDIERS- moronic characters, poor writing, uninteresting direction, see instead DESCENT

THE MIST- just overblown acting, and an ending that was drained of any impact. stick to the audio book, it’s far, FAR better. See instead IT.

Stephen King’s It (See all Mystery Movies & TV)

REC 2- Awful sequel, that gets wrong everything that worked about the original. See instead REC or ROMANSANTA

Drag Me to Hell (2009)- I found it okay, to a little less than okay. Beginning was very good but It lost me somewhere in the middle and never got me back. The whole seance/possession thing I found completely idiotic. See instead EVIL DEAD 1, EVIL DEAD 2

DARKNESS and NAMELESS- not horrible, quite intense and effective in places, but undermined by too much cliches, stupid character actions and poor endings. In general just poor writing

DAY NIGHT DAY NIGHT- This is a very compelling film through most of its run time, but just completely collapses at the end. “Let me show you my abs”? Really??? WTF? That’s your ending?! Made me mad and ruined an otherwise strong film.

KING OF THE HILL (Spanish)- Beautiful looking film, not bad, just not satisfying, and questionable plot contrivances, but not a bad film. But put here because not as great as it has been touted.

RUINS- Tedious

CREEP- brain-dead mutated Subway killer flick

SIN CITY- misogynistic, reductive tripe. Absolute garbage.

NATURAL BORN KILLERS- One of my most disliked films. Right up there with SIN CITY.

SHOOT EM UP- It just bored me

MR. BROOKS- Way underwhelming, bordering on mediocre “serial killer with a twist” flick. See instead the fantastic, but vitually unknown Jeff Goldblum flick, MISTER FROST.

Mr. Frost [VHS]

DISTURBIA- A poor man’s REAR WINDOW, not horrible, just not good.

THE DEVIL’S REJECTS- Stylish and well made, just morally offensive and bankrupt. Zombie’s viewpoint is to sympathize and root for the serial killers rather than the victims or law enforcement. He even does this with HALLOWEEN… not something I buy into,,, ever

BATMAN BEGINS- Interesting beginning, tedious middle, stupid ending. See instead BATMAN (1989) or THE DARK KNIGHT(Only Nolan movie I like)

MACHINIST- Brad Anderson directs intriguing films, that tend to either spin wheels to a telegraphed conclusion (SOUNDS LIKE), or tread water to an empty forgettable conclusion(SESSION 9 and MACHINIST)

BUG- It tries for Cronenberg body horror, but marries that to just an annoying and tedious storyline

Dead Silence (2007)- average to bad, see instead MAGIC or DOLLS

INCEPTION- Don’t get me started, I’ve discussed Nolan and the emperor’s clothes enough

MEMENTO

PRESTIGE

PUNISHER- Thomas Jane version— ugggh, see instead PUNISHER the Lundgren version, reviled by many it’s actually an impressive flick

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    10 derided films that I enjoy!

SKELETON KEY- hugely underrated New Orleans Gothic tinged horror film

The Skeleton Key (Widescreen Edition) (See all Mystery Movies & TV)

THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL- absolutely adore this movie. One of my favorites.

The House of the Devil [Blu-ray] (See all Horror Movies)

WAR OF THE WORLDS (Remake)- Yeah it’s a fad to bash Tom Cruise. But fads aside he’s a fantastic actor, and this is a strong flick.

HANCOCK- Horrible name for a movie, horrible posters, box art, horrible marketing. But under all this damaging comedy labeling, is actually quite a compelling and strong film, with a great third act. Rename this THE INSURANCE POLICY (OF THE GODS), use some serious marketing and posters, and you could re-release this to DVD and continue to clean up on this film (it made in theaters over 300 million domestically).

TITANIC

PUNISHER- Dolph Lundgren version, and I really like it. Ninjas, brooding anti-heroes, nice action scenes and Louis Gossett Jr, what’s not to like. Big fan.

The Punisher (See all Art House Action Movies)

FF- I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, it was nice goofy fun, and enjoyed it a lot more than the dire SIN CITY or BATMAN BEGINS

JUDGE DREDD- everyone agrees the comedy relief, courtesy of so-called comedian Rob Schneider was a horrendously bad idea, but there are some fantastic iconic scenes in this film, the best is Max Von Sydow’s walk into the Cursed Earth. Movie is worth it for that scene alone.

Judge Dredd (See all Crime Movies & TV)

TRANSFORMERS 2- Not great, but definitely good and visually stunning.

PISTOL WHIPPED- I liked this Seagal straight to DVD flick the first time I saw it, but every single time I’ve seen it since, I like it more. Plus a fantastic opening credit sequence, and a solid ending. A lot of fun. “You cremated now MFer!”

Pistol Whipped (See all Mystery & Suspense Thrillers)