Dredd 3D: during an assessment of a rookie, supercop Judge Dredd and his new partner are locked in a tower-block and forced to fight their way to the top to defeat the main crime-lord, MaMa. It seems to have more than a coincidental resemblance to The Raid in both its premise and visuals – but think less intricate fighting and more people shooting each other for 80 mins. The violence is fairly graphic and hyper-stylised, leaving a lot to love for the action/gore fans. Karl Urban‘s a strange casting decision: not quite big enough to put many bums on seats, but he can chin-act like a boss (essential), fire a big gun (also essential) and his deadpan comic delivery is entertaining – so I guess it all levels out. His sidekick (Olivia Thirlby) and antagonist (Lena Headey) both play their roles very well. The 3D was unnecessary – fast action scenes struggle – and only really comes to life in the Slo-Mo scenes: there’s also plenty ghosting in dark scenes with bright elements. All-in, the CGI-heavy action-centric Dredd 3D maxes out on gore, violence and craziness (like the scene inside the criminal’s mind), but somehow manages to remain short, punchy and entertaining enough to stop you realising how big, loud and dumb it is.
Animal Kingdom: Mid-budget Australian crime film focuses on one family and their ongoing struggle against the Melbourne police department. Probably more at home on TV than the big screen, there’s a few misfires that lead this high-potential film astray. The single biggest mistake was that it could have been an epic story, but the director forces it down the arthouse route, and it just didn’t work for me. Other faux pas’ were that it focuses on the wrong characters, honing in on the most silent and blank-faced kid; the music was so distracting – terrible psychological synths turned up to 11 that ironically drown out any ambience; moreover, it’s to bleak, grim and nihilistic – making it a difficult story to watch. What saved this from obscurity was the fantastic cast, some of whom you completely invest in: the mother and eldest son are two of the most heinous characters you’ll see this year and you even end up rooting for the wayward brothers; although he’s good, the main actor is one of the weakest in the film. Fiercely over-hyped, and at almost two hours, Animal Kingdom is dragged out at a pace that cripples the movie and really fails to engage. While it’s not in the same league as Romper Stomper and Chopper it will have the same effect in bumping much of the little known actors up to a bigger stage.
Doberman: follows cops, robbers, bent cops and transvestites entangled in a feud & bank robbery – although there’s only a few minutes spent in the bank. The film has a strange, over-exposed and grainy, look but remains slick and stylish throughout. There’s a ton of hyper violence culminating in the world’s worst facepalm, but it’s all pretty surreal as it’s based on a pulp comic. The script’s just as brutal and not very PC, mainly due to the transvestite / gay / fetish characters and general eccentric stereotypes. Also, what is it with directors treating Monica Belluci so roughly? Unfortunately, it lacks the depth, substance and story of similarly styled Besson / Tarantino films. Definitely a visual treat, but it’s a bit of a no-brainer and stays in-your-face from the very first frame. Style over substance.
The Bank Job: although the actual Bank job is finished within the hour, after that everything goes ‘Pete Tong’ and the 20-odd main, and shallow, characters all come together in a poor Lock-Stock fashion. It’s also the classic Hollywood version of Britain, where every man’s a wheelin’ & dealin’ geezer and everyone , including the royal family, are sex’d up to the maxxx – tits are pretty much the first thing you see. Jason Statham, as always, is grittier than a pocked of sand, but not superhuman for a change. Didn’t once feeling anything for any of the characters, but neither did the cast as they threw a party at the end; despite 1/2 of their crew getting killed! There’s also a cracking Ronnie Barker look-a-like. It’s a watchable stereotypical vapid Brit-flick but really only stuck it out because it’s all based on real rumours.
Street Kings: a crime-drama from some of the guys that brought us the crime-dramas Training Day, Harsh Times & S.W.A.T – you kind of know what you’re getting! Keanu Reeves may as well have been a bit of timber with a face drawn on (again) but the rest of the cast were pretty good – Forrest Whittaker in particular. The story twists and turns along at a good pace, and keeps you thoroughly entertained throughout. Also, couldn’t feature a Latino gang without Noel Gugliemi: possibly the most obvious typecast ever! Exceeded my expectations…
One night in Mongcock: the film follows a rookie hitman in the most densely-populated area in the world (Mongcock). It’s a pretty good story, the police hunting a hitman, who’s hunting a triad gangbanger… so it’s pretty cat-and-mouse through the film. More drama than action though, with some awesome edge-of-your-seat suspense moments, and the typical dose of Asian symbolism and unethical policing chucked in for good measure! Decent enough film.