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November 28, 2022

Dredd: Dredd-ful

By Bernie and Sand Pilarski

Rated R

Sand said:

Bernie keeps telling me that I saw Judge Dredd (starring Sylvester Stallone). When I say, "No, I didn't," he dismisses my statement with, "Yeah, you did." Didn't/did conversations -- well, I'm too old to spend precious minutes on them, but I'm also too old (and have been since I was 21) to spend moments watching anything with Sylvester Stallone in it, so it's unlikely that I did. It may have been on a DVD while I was in the room reading a book, but watch it? No.

All right, those of you who follow my reviews know I did see Stallone in The Expendables, and those lost minutes validated my refusal to watch Stallone for my entire life.

Karl Urban, on the other hand, is as sure a lure for me as Jackie Chan or Bruce Willis. That's why I was willing to see Dredd, even though I had never heard of the UK comic book series which featured the Judges, lawmen who carry their verdicts with them, needing no jury when dealing with criminals.

Faceless Judge Dredd and his sort-of-psychic rookie partner Anderson investigate a triple homicide in a giant apartment complex (did I hear them say 75,000 residents?) and manage to stumble upon a lieutenant in the infamous Ma-Ma gang. He knows too much about their drug operation to fall into the hands of police interrogators, and so Ma-Ma herself orders the building shut off from outside assistance and sends her associates to kill the cops. Naturally a shoot-out follows.

That's it. Yes, the whole plot.

What the movie brings is lots of guns, lots of loud noise as the guns are used, and lots and lots and lots of visuals of what happens when bullets and explosives are used on human bodies. The film's look is dark and drab, color saturation tuned down -- except for the blood and guts, which (like The Expendables) are amped up so that the reds are the focal point as they spatter across the field of vision in 3-D.

Right again, people of good memory -- I have said in the past that I would never again see a movie in 3-D because it makes me motion sick. To remedy this, we sat in the very last row in the theater, and I held my 3-D glasses about four inches in front of my eyes. I didn't get motion sick.

Personally, I found the use of 3-D very hokey and predictable. But then, after the initial shock of seeing a rendition of smashed brains and buckets of blood, I found the use of the violence hokey and predictable.

Now let's talk cash flow. When Bernie and I go to the movies, we hit the first Friday showing in the morning. Not only does this put us in a nicely uncrowded theater, but also, the Friday morning shows are only $5 a ticket, which we can more or less afford. However, the marketing strategy for Dredd was a bit different: the only morning showing was 3-D. That's $5 for a ticket, and a mandatory $3 for the 3-D glasses. Showings in 2-D were $7.50 a ticket in the afternoon. Is an uncrowded theater worth a dollar's difference? Yes, but I resent the squeezing of my budget very much. I also resent a film that makes me avert my eyes every few minutes from having to see 3-D, shredded, colorized guts.

I do believe that had the trailers of this movie given me a good indication of what it was made of, we would have saved $16 dollars, plus the price of the popcorn, because we would not have gone to see ... guts.

This is not a dinner-and-a-movie date, folks. The portrayal of the future of humanity as dirty, cruel, scarred and remorseless was ugly and depressing.

I've read some other reviews that say Dredd was being true to the comic book series that inspired it, and that it didn't just pander to voyeurism that exploits blood and gore.

Yeah, it did.

And that's another 95 minutes of my life down the drain.

Bernie said:

You know how Sand is -- always so polite and always so diplomatic in her criticisms. It is sometimes difficult to tell how she really feels about a subject because she always remains so guarded in her comments.

For example, do you know that after Sand and I first met, it took me nearly eight weeks before I proposed? I mean I had a hard time figuring out just how she felt about me. Yes, we spent every possible moment together, we laughed and we talked, we talked about the future and what we wanted in life, and how many kids we would like to have and where we might want to live, about how important our spiritual beliefs were to us and how comparable our lives had been to that point, and where our relatives lived and what kind of dinnerware was best, but, really, what was she thinking?

Even now, after thirty-six years, I'm still not sure if perhaps I didn't "pop the question" a little too soon and put too much pressure on her to make a decision. Maybe she wanted somebody more like Stallone, who was at that very moment starring in the cinematic classic Death Race 2000 (if you really must --).

I have never, ever, seen a Stallone movie that I liked ... except one -- Judge Dredd. It was by no means a great movie, but it was clever, and, more importantly, it had Diane Lane as a co-star. It also had a plot. It was, if not good, at least entertaining.

Dredd had ... Well, Dredd had Karl Urban. I like Karl Urban. It was primarily because of Karl Urban that I went to see this movie. And I forgive Karl Urban for that, although it may take some time to get the warm and fuzzy feeling back.

Aside from Karl Urban, I can not think of a single redeeming quality of this film. It was obnoxiously loud, dark and ugly, senselessly and gratuitously violent and gory, and if you remove the shock value that comes from the gore, it was a pointless, boring story. By comparison, the original movie was a spectacular, riveting, classic of the genre.

The film has been touted as having stunning use of 3D. Meh. I will grudgingly give it credit for using 3D more effectively than the other 3D films I've seen, but I still can't see enough reason to spend the extra money on it. Then again, there haven't been any Diane Lane films in 3D, have there?

Please do not waste your money on this film in the theaters, and if I were you, I would not spend any money on this movie at the video store or PPV. Don't even watch it for free.

To be honest, I would rather have gone and seen Sylvester Stallone in Expendables 2. Almost. I have to be careful not to enflame any Stallone embers that may still be smoldering, if you know what I mean.

Article © Bernie and Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-09-24
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