The Finest Cult Action Film

This morning I watched Dredd (2012), the second film based on the Judge Dredd series of comics from the UK, which is considered by far the more faithful of the two.

This movie had a lot going against it when it came out, and none of that was the actual content of the film. First of all, the Stallone film from the '90's was considered a terrible movie, and it wasn't clear to most viewers that the faults it had were not because of the comic. One of the biggest running gags of the comic is that Dredd never takes off his helmet and never shows his life away from work, and the original film had Stallone leave his helmet off for most of the film, and I believe there was even a back story written into the movie.

This is a UK comic that takes place in a distopian United States. The signals cross a little when it comes to the knowledge base of the readers and viewers. Also, instead of the huge name of Sylvester Stallone this movie stars Karl Urban as Dredd whose face is never shown above his sourpuss scowl, and the biggest name in the film is Lena Headey, who is most well known from her part on Game of Thrones. Urban and Headey have both been in a lot of movies, Urban in the Star Trek movies, Riddick movies, and two Lord of the Rings movies, and Headey in the 300 movies as well as many other smaller parts. Neither is a household name. The trailer for Dredd shows a Judge in the same costume as the first movie and I think people thought it was just another terrible nostalgia remake of an '80's or '90's movie.

This is more than another try at an older movie, or a comic book movie, but might be one of the best looking films ever in its use of slow-motion, special effects, and action. The megalopolis city looks incredible, it looks like a real place with sprawling mega structures that span in all directions until they are met by the dead wasteland of the desert beyond the outer walls. The story is a brutal take on a hero or heroes having to fight their way out of a building and solve a crime. There is the aspect of a psychic who can read minds and the use of mind reading is not taken lightly or magically, but as a plot device (and excuse to have one hero without a helmet covering their face).

This is movie that was missed. A lot of people missed this. I had a few friends over a few years ago to play board games and this was in the background. My friend Will was fixed on the movie and said, "What is this? I've never seen anything like it." I think we ended up abandoning the game and watching the movie. There is a lot to this movie and it has Sylvester Stallone to blame for not becoming a series of flims, but a cult following to thank for it possibly having a second life on Netflix, either as a new movie or as a series. My fingers are crossed for a series.

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