What I think of the found footage horror movie V/H/S. It’s made with lots of jokes and cuss words that most critics don’t use because they’re “respectable”. (I think they made that word up.)
This is a perfect movie.
No, I’m not kidding. And I haven’t gone soft in my old age. It really is a perfect movie.
What’s that? You want to know what a perfect movie is? Easy. It’s a movie I have no reason to complain about. No, it won’t win or deserve any Oscars or anything like that. It’s just a movie that gives you exactly what you want and is pretty much flawless…unless, of course, you’re a nitpicky asshole which in that case feel free to visit your local Priscilla McCall’s or Adam & Eve or some mom & pop equivalent, peruse their vast selection of female orgasm supplements and having chosen and purchased what I hope is the largest one there, please, by all means GO FUCK YOURSELF FOR BEING ONE OF THOSE ASSHOLES THAT RUINS EVEN GOOD MOVIES FOR EVERYONE!
Where was I? Oh yeah! Dredd!
Now I know some of you are thinking “Why did they remake the Stallone movie?” and were I there with you in person, I would explain, after a long and imaginative series of expletives preceding the word “idiot”, that this isn’t a remake of an entertaining-because-it’s-so-bad film but a second adaptation of a popular British comic series.
That’s right. Judge Dredd is a series of comic strips that have been appearing in the legendary (to comic aficionados anyway) anthology series 2000AD. It’s about a place called Mega City One that’s in a post-apocalyptic future where crime is so bad that the legal system has been adjusted to allow judges to go on the street and act as cops where you’re tried, convicted, sentenced and punished on the spot. Since most of the crimes are violent, most of the criminals wind up as wall graffiti. This is not for kids…unless you’re like me whose parents thought that age 6 is the perfect time to introduce you to a little film called Full Metal Jacket which would pretty much make this Mister Roger’s Neighborhood by comparison.
I’ve already been asked at least twice at work (because I wouldn’t shut up about this movie) if they got it right and you know what? The Stallone movie already got it wrong!
I’m going to put this all in caps, bold print and italics so that you understand the importance of this sentence:
YOU ARE NEVER, EVER SUPPOSED TO SEE JUDGE DREDD’S FACE!!!!
(Yes, every single one of those exclamation points was necessary…in fact, I might have underdone it.)
This is info about the character that’s so basic that even someone like me who’s never even read the comic (Oh! Oh! You fainted! Shit! I knew I shouldn’t have hit you with that one so suddenly…crap. I’ll just wait for you to get back up now. There. Better? Good. Let’s move on then, shall we?) knows this very basic fact. And guess what? You don’t need to read the comic! This movie tells you everything you need to know about the setting and the main character in less than the first five minutes!
How? Through a car chase! Why can’t all exposition be done that way?!
Seriously, through a simple car chase we learn that Judge Dredd is ruthless, technical to the point of almost a machine and determined to handle the job how he sees fit…and may God help whoever gets in his way…and may He be backed up by the pantheon of at least three other religions or mythologies because I think don’t He would want face Dredd alone!
The plot is then given to us within about 20 minutes. Dredd has to evaluate the rookie Judge Anderson who’s not technically qualified to be a judge but is psychic so…yeah, they decided to make an exception for her (and she’s played by an incredibly hot Olivia Thirlby by the way…what is it with me and armed women who could possibly kick my ass?). Anderson finds herself in the ultimate trial-by-fire when she’s locked in a 200 story tall tower during a routine homicide investigation and her and Dredd have to fight…oh…just about every goddamn person in the building to survive!
Not the best first day ever.
As such, she’s given all the character development as Dredd, to be honest, doesn’t need any fucking character development!
And that’s it. No forced issues. No romance. No exploring anyone’s past. Just an hour and forty minutes of people shooting, fighting and killing each other.
This is refreshing and in my opinion the best action movie of the year. Yeah. I said it. And I’m not taking it back. Other movies may have better characters, better build-up and definitely better budgets (this was made for $45 million which is low for a Hollywood movie) but this is nothing but unapologetic balls-to-the-wall action.
And you know what else? The plot is simple but not stupid. The action is stylized but only when the plot calls for it. And all of the characters are both intelligent and competent (and I do mean all of them). In fact, (spoiler alert!…unless you’ve ever seen a movie before in your entire life) the villain is actually defeated because she’s too smart. How often does that happen?!
I highly, highly recommend this movie if for no reason than it needs to make $50 million in the box office to get a sequel and this movie fucking deserves it! Especially considering the plans that the scriptwriter and the director have for it.
Fun Fact: The scriptwriter actually went to Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner, who wrote most of the comics stories, for his approval and suggestions. In fact, some of the dialogue in the movie was written by him! Take note, Hollywood: THAT’S HOW YOU ADAPT SOMETHING INTO A MOVIE!!!
You know, I had really high hopes for this one. It’s based on an awesome book (that I still need to finish), is directed by Timur Bekmambetov (who is my favorite action director today) and produced by Tim Burton (which means he’s not directing…thank…God). Everything about this felt so damn right.
So how did it go so damn wrong?!
This is one of those experiences where I immediately got worried within the first five minutes.
Wait a minute! Story time!
A few years ago, my friend Jacob and I (See? See? Someone on the internet knows grammar!), watched Terminator Salvation where afterwards he told me something that I’ve noticed as a trend ever since: none of the cuts lasted more than ten seconds.
No, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter doesn’t do that but whole scenes go by so fast that it feels like it. We see Abe defend a young black boy (who gets a permanent facial scar), his father get fired, the man demanding said father pay some debt (that’s never explained), the father refusing, him bonding with his mom, his mom getting attacked, her emotional death scene, her funeral, Abe promising his father not to go after the guy and Abe going after the guy anyway after his father’s death all in the first ten minutes! Absolutely none of these moments are given time to breathe! It’s infuriating when you’re ready, willing and able to feel what the movie wants you to but aren’t given the time to do it!
And then there’s the rest of the movie.
Now if you’re expecting the epically awesome action sequences that you usually get from Timur Bekmambetov than you won’t be disappointed. I mean, it’s Timur fucking Bekmamtov! The director of Night Watch and Wanted! So naturally he has no problem giving you things like a one-on-one fight between Abe and a vampire above, below and in a horse stampede or a climax taking place on a train when the tracks are on fire! And when you give him characters with super strength he shows you what that kind of power looks like, God damn it!
In a way, the action sequences hurt it more than help because they’re really what the movie should be instead of what it is. Where the book treats the vampires as a backdrop to Lincoln’s life this movie treats his life like the backdrop to the vampires. To make matters even worse, Bekmambetov clearly has no interest in the story at all. Every moment of drama or plot advancement feels rushed so that he can get to the next action scene which as a result has no fucking tension to it whatsoever! I can’t get myself to care about any of these guys! The only time I felt worried was during the climax because there’s a black guy helping Abe and he seemed expendable for no reason other than him being a black sidekick.
Oh, yeah, Abe gets a black sidekick. Let that one sink in.
And history buffs…bring your brass knuckles. You’re going to need them for the drunken bar brawl you’re going to get into immediately after leaving the theater. Why? Because the main character isn’t Abraham Lincoln, it’s the idea of Abraham Lincoln, that Moses-like character that we tell elementary students about.
For context, the book basically just adds vampires to texts taken from various biographies (including Lincoln’s own journals) so you always get the feeling that this is Abe Lincoln the man going up against these things for some honestly pretty selfish reasons. But because the movie completely skips major points in his life and the script doesn’t give him any flaws other than him not knowing how to kill vampires until someone teaches him, you almost expect him to enter each scene on a white horse with angelic music playing in the background. (Him having Superman levels of strength, endurance and invulnerability in all the fight scenes doesn’t help.)
Now I’m good with it being just a mindless action movie. In fact, I was expecting that! The problem is the damn thing won’t let me! The drama is too serious to laugh at and the action scenes are too over the top to take seriously. It’s a mess!
And that’s before the editor got drunk while putting the scenes together.
Now usually you don’t catch me saying anything about the editing because frankly, I don’t notice it. So you can imagine how bad it has to be when I do. Actually considering a scene where he suddenly has scars and injuries on his face that we saw completely healed in the previous scene because it takes place several months after the scene where he got those injuries in the first place…! Gah!
If you have to watch this, wait for the $1.50 theater.
Actually, don’t. Someone will be dumb enough to buy the DVD and they’ll put all the action scenes on YouTube and THAT’S the best way to watch it.