I have had reason to muse upon the comic-book movie.
I do read a few comics, but not many. I’m not going to claim to really know what I’m talking about, but here we go anyway.
It seems that there must be two fundamental ways to approach such a venture; either to make a film adaptation of the comic book that you’re addressing, or make a film of the same story that the comic is adapting. One way you end up with Batman & Robin, the other produces The Dark Knight.
…or maybe it’s the difference between the Stan Lee original and the Frank Miller re-boot. I’m getting out of my depth here.
Tell you what; long story short – Dredd was fantastic! It’s a bit squelchy and I know that’ll put a few people off, but it’s a simple, tight, unpretentious and unapologetic stomp through the disapproving-talents of Mr. Urban’s chin. It doesn’t try to mean anything, it doesn’t try to convey an important social message that it’s not up to, it doesn’t try to bring emotional depth to the chin. It shoots a load of people in the face without taking its helmet off. It says “fuck you if you don’t like it, it’s the LAW”.
It’s undeniably reminiscent of The Raid, another “cops get trapped inside a hostile building and decide to go up rather than down” story. That was also excellent and a vivid reminder of just how well a martial arts flick can impress when it genuinely looks like the stunt people don’t mind the occasional broken spine or two. Dredd is an excellent and vivid reminder of just how much arse you can kick with a great central plot conceit (I won’t try to call Dredd a character – perhaps he becomes one in the comics, but in the film he’s little beyond a moving “get-out-of-gunfight-free” card for the rest of the good-guys…erm…guy…gal), some lovely camerawork and no illusions about the film you’re making or embarrassment about its genre.
If you’re squeamish, you’re going to struggle. The first ten minutes and one or two notable later moments are quite splattery, but for the most part there’s just a lot of tomato-sauce and squibs. I can imagine some people being totally put off by these moments – in fact I know one such personally – and I’m sure an argument could be made that you could have made it less graphic and lost little of the effect, but I’m not sure that’s true…and that’s an argument that I’m not up to trying to express right now, much to your relief I’m sure.
Get. Enjoy. Don’t bother to look for the subtext. “You look ready”. Giggle. Enjoy again.