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.
RED: (Retired, Extremely Dangerous) A retired Black Ops soldier is targeted by a hit team, so he calls a favour on his old-time buddies to get to the bottom of it all. I guess the best thing about this newfangled trend of adapting the shit out of every comic ever made is that – on the whole – the source material is usually good, and abundant. Because of this, RED is watchable enough as the story predictably lurches forward, however the way it’s all presented on the big screen is nothing new – peppered with gratuitous fights, action and explosions. They must have known the story was ten-a-penny before they pulled in such a heavy-hitting cast: Malkovich steals every scene with his familiar oddball routine, and the only other person that turns in something good is the determined agent Karl Urban. Everyone else, including Bruce Willis, is on cruise control, and despite being OK, everyone seems more interested in making a quick buck than doing anything noteworthy. There’s a couple of ‘hostage humour’ laughs as Willis tries to win over a girl that looks half his age, and the overall script is decent. Between the massive cast and unusually low certificate for an ation/spy flick (all violence and most swear words are edited out or covered up) this is clearly all about getting as many bums on as many seats as possible. RED nowhere near as good as the sum of its parts – and ends up being nothing more than a Bourne/Salt/A-Team re-hash, with marginally more interesting than average geriatric characters.