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Let's talk about art. Painting to be precise. This is a piece of famous art, that people seem to enjoy,
And this is also a piece of famous art, which fetched quite a large amount of money last time it was on the market, and so I would assume, some people also seem to enjoy,
What do these two pieces of art have in common? They're both paintings, I think they both used paint, and they were created by a human wielding a brush.
Other than that - not much. But they are both paintings. They are both art. They are both much enjoyed. They are both popular.
How would one review those two paintings at the same time, how would one rate them? One is a portrait and the other, loosely described, as a landscape. Are they both good? Are they both high quality? How would you rate them on a scale of 1 to 5? It's not easy, it's certainly not easy to compare them. Sure, you could argue that they are both great because they feature bold brush strokes or present to us a view of the world that somehow evokes an emotion inside us.
It is with those questions in mind that I come to review Dredd (2D, the recent version). Should I review Dredd as a movie in a sea of a million movies and compare it with every other? Is it better or worse than Gone With the Wind? Is it better or worse than Babes in Toyland? Is it a higher or lower quality perhaps than Zero Dark Thirty?
How on earth can we make those comparisons when it is clear to everyone who looks on, that this movie (Dredd) is of a different style or genre than those others? The Mona LIsa and Orange,_Red,_Yellow are both paintings, but they do not bear comparison because they are such different paintings. Instead we must compare and contrast within the same genre or same style.
For me, the key element of art is that it must not come from a position of cynicism. It can present cynicism, it can reflect it, but it must come from some honest place, some desire to present the finished result for its own merits.
So we look to the comic adaptation action movie genre, or more widely, simply the action movie genre, and we ask, how does Dredd compare to its peers in that group? Does Dredd come from a place of cynicism or is it honest. Does it stand up. Does it entertain.
The answer, is yes it does. Dredd is visually appealing, humorous to a certain extent, tense in other ways, and presents an honest portrayal of a seminal comic book character. Is there much plot? No, of course not, this movie is in the action movie genre, and therefore the plot bears only a small amount of weight in the overall delivery, like a significant portion of action movies. There is a story, there is a reason, and then there is action and conclusion. That's what we love, what's why we watch, that's what we expect. We don't compare this to movies with intricate plots and deep characters who develop on-screen, it's not trying to compete with them, it's not trying to be them, and we shouldn't expect it to be them.
Karl Urban presents the central character in as many dimensions as you can without ever being able to see the eyes. His voice, grimace and stance his only tools, he manages to give Dredd some humanity and a range of emotions you might find surprising. Thirlby's Judge Anderson is neither a simpering damsel nor a cold hearted bitch but instead, as comic book action movies go, an interesting female role who shirks some stereotypes and gives an excellent and strong on-screen presence.
There are guns and explosions and graphic slow motion scenes of cheeks exploding with bullet holes. There are classic one liners and some heroic deadpan speeches. The pace is good, the movie is never self concious, and the ending is satisfying.
This is a movie worth seeing. I suggest you see it.