Monday, 10 September 2012

Dredd further watching : Atlantic Rim (Britain, South Africa, Spain, East Coast) hysteri-cool sc-fi

In which blog writer gives some suggestions on related movies and finally gets some stuff off his chest re: Mr Stallone

Review of Dredd 3D can be found here


Note : I've heard a few reviewers of Dredd 3D exclaim how unbelievable it is that the interior of the US is devastated by nuclear war but the cities are untouched.

Well, Red State readers take note, in the world of Judge Dredd the East coast, - New York down to Miami, and West coast - Seattle to LA are protected by missile defense systems which protect them from direct hits. The Third World War begins when democratically elected (but insane) US President Booth launches a pre-emptive strike from behind his missile shield, killing billions worldwide and ushering in the era of the Judges in the radioactive chaos which follows.

There you have it, US voters, near future US history as written by Europeans.

Anyhoo.... If you like Dredd 3D here are some other suggestions on the same theme. If you want to skip straight to the abuse the Stallone film is at the bottom of the list.

HARDWARE
In classic comics ret-conning fashion 1990's Hardware is now taken as
the first adaptation of a 2000AD story. I say ret-conning as the first
release of Hardware had no mention of 2000AD, only after the
intervention of lawyers pointing out the incredible resemblance to the
SHOKK! strip written by Pat Mills and Kev O'Neill did the credit
appear (this is the sort of thing that doesn't happen to Marvel or
DC). Hardware is a good cheap scifi indie movie not dissimilar to the
new Dredd (try checking out Richard Stanley's other good as well -
Dust Devil) but the attempt at plagiarism bothers me still. Wierdly
parts of the 1996 Judge Dredd also seem to be attempting a Sesame
Street level remake of plot elements from Hardware (see below) For one
thing both seem to feature strange mini cameos from Brit rock gods
Lemmy (in Hardware) and Ian Dury (Judge Dredd)...

ROBOCOP
After Hardware Robocop's uncanny resemblance to Dredd should have felt worse but this was at least a much better movie. Robocop absolutely screams 2000AD even when not concentrating on a taciturn future lawman only seen via his chin. Hyperviolent, insane adverts, black humour, politics.. tonally even now the first Robocop film is closer to a punked-out 2000AD strip than anything else.

DAMNATION ALLEY
Robocop (and Harware) was hard for fans of 2000AD to take until we
remembered the comic's own great habit for "reinvention" - Skizz,
Shako, Harlem Heroes are all liberally ripped off from other sources
and a full adaptation of Judge Dredd's Cursed Earth trek from from
MegaCity One to MegaCity Two would surely require a credit for Roger
Zelazny, writer of the classic post nuclear road trip : Damnation Alley.
I'll be honest and say the movie adaptation of Damnation Alley disappointed me when I was a hardly critical ten year old, so I wouldn't expect much but the
Landmaster vehicles are good and could have been driven straight out
of a Pat Mills story (as they seem to have been driven straight in
there to begin with).
This is a particularly excellent review of Damnation Alley and its peculiar place in cinema history, as the forgotten scifi movie released in 1977 alongside something called Star Wars..

Alex Garland has suggested the Cursed Earth saga is up for Dredd 2 and
I can see the whole Dredd trilogy going the way of Mad Max, with a
cheap first movie and significantly scoped out later entires.
Garland is right when he adds would be better as a tv series..
I can definitely see Judges's appearing through the static haze of the HBO intro, especially as the Cursed Earth saga wouldn't even be that expensive assuming you got the vehicles right (my only problem with the 2012 Dredd movie).

ACCION MUTANTE
I've always thought Alex De Inglesias's typically batshit crazy tale
of dirty space opera and gun toting muties is very 2000AD. It is
brilliant for at least half its running time until the bad taste
insanity overcomes the narrative logic. It's worth remembering that Dredd, an East coast American character, is actually an Anglo-Spanish creation - step forward artist Carlos Ezquerra, working in tandem with Scottish writer John Wagner (with Alan Grant and Pat Mills helping out).
Bearing in mind any number of Pedro Almod├│var films look like a soaps using
MegaCity1 eccentrics but set in the present day I can't help but
wonder if the the slightly hysteri-cool element within 2000AD is some
Atlantic Rim phenomenon? We Brits talk often enough about our supposed
behavioral kinship with the Dutch and Germans, we rarely detect
anything in common with our neighbours to the south. Perhaps that
kinship with the cool uninhibited passion of the South is only
revealled when forced to express ourselves in graphic form - and the
general Anglo dismissive attitude to comics (particularly in Britain,
I could write volumes on that subject) is why we barely recognise it.

Never mind Spain, go far enough south on the Atlantic Rim theory and we can include South Africa as well, as Cape Town Studios have made such a contribution to the subject I will be checking out District 9 again later. Looked back in retrospect District 9 is another story, wipsmart satirical, fearless and down and dirty punk that could have come straight from a 2000AD strip.

OK, that last musing was obviously displacement behavior.
I've avoided this long enough. For those curious enough to have
visited the scene of the crime in the last few weeks ; the Stallone
movie is not as bad as you remember - it's worse.

JUDGE DREDD 1996
Sylvester Stallone is a fascinating artist, able to take what appears
to be garbage and elevate it it classic status. And do the same in
reverse. We can see this happening right now, I submit for your
consideration Rambo 4 (!) and The Expendables series, reuniting action
stars from the 80s. One is surely great and one is surely garbage :
but can you pick which one?

Sly is a lot more preditable when it comes to film versions of British
cultural icons. Where there are people like Speilberg who are granted
honorary knighthoods for services to British culture Sylvester
Stallone should be banned forever from entering the UK just for the
remake of Get Carter.. Never mind Judge Dredd.

Apparently Stallone just didn't "get" Dredd, expecting to get big
laughs rather than awe when he first appeared on set in the Judges
outfit, and generally thinking the whole Judge Dredd epic was meant to
be comedic. Perhaps we should be blaming the producers for this rather
glaring error of comprehension early on, and dwelling on this does
recall ironically Alan Moore's classic 2000AD strip "DR and Quinch Go
To Hollywood"

"Can you describe the film?"

How could I adequately describe this film man? It had an unreadable script and an incoherent leading man, who was also, like totally illiterate. I decided to be brief and honest.

"It's a disaster movie"

Helped by a script which is to comedy banter what cold cold vomit is
to your favourite cheesecake ('cheese' cannot have just left into
my head accidentally there), which eventually crustifies into
the worst cliche in crime drama ("framed for a crime he did not
commit!"). Stallone entered the film as the star and by effectively
running the production from the lead actors chair proceeded to destroy
the image of the character for 15 years and the career of a promising
director for good. What should have been Hill Street Blues by way of Death Race 2000 and Rollerball was turned into Blade Runner for the under 5s.

I've heard, especially in the U.S., that Judge Dredd 1996 splits opinion, though under closer analysis it seems to be split into those who saw the film as adults and those who saw it before they'd learnt to go to the toilet by themselves.

By the end Judge Dredd even gives up on trying to make narrative
sense, with a whole sequence, "Send in the Clones!", obviously hacked
out for presumably good reason, but in such a clumsy manner that it
insults whatever audience left which has not already knocked itself
unconscious from repeated impacts to the head.

But.. Lets be positive, there is certainly enough in the movie it to make it a comedy "Walter The Wobot" take on the material and the source comic was never 100% serious anyway. When Stallone and Schnieder are off screen it's actually pretty good - which emphasises the enormity of stink they produce when they are. Is there a more extreme example in cinema history of the effect of two bad actors and a lousy script so conclusively burying the fate of a potential billion dollar movie franchise?

If Stallone or Schinerder read this I expect their first thought is

"I knew you'd say that"

To be fair we can add Alan Silvestrie's score to the list, as for me
it belongs in Narnia not in a post apocalypse Mega city. In yet a
further example of what could have been from this movie go HERE to
check out a portion of the original music for Judge Dredd, as composed
by Jerry Goldsmith and abandoned when Goldsmith could not commit to
complete the project (did you read the script Jerry?). If this sounds
familiar it is because it was used in the original trailer for Judge
Dredd and has regularly been used for trailers since - as it is
actually pretty good.

Try to be positive.. positive..

A lot is made of Dredd's fantasy fascist appeal, supposedly the
liberal subconscious wish for an absolute bastard in uniform to
stride in, set the rules, deal with the bad guys and then disappear.
But but I think Dredd goes beyond even that. In the insane future
shock of MegaCity One, where - even without the crime - they are
dealing with cramped millions and 99% unemployment (riots and Block
Wars start when jobs are advertised) the Judges are trained from birth
to use the Law with religious fervour. This made evident even in the
trivial kidscape of the 1996 film, with The Book of The Law treated
like a Bible, and the The Long Walk taken by retiring judges out no
the Cursed Earth "To Bring Law to The Lawless" as a semi religous
quest.

That is a rarely noted aspect of the Judges and their system, they are
almost warrior preists maintaining a secular religion
based on rationalism - The Law. Judge Dredd doesn't just push our
buttons for uniformed law and order, it seemingly gives us a 'safe'
dose of religion as well.

Max von Sydow's Long Walk scene is almost worth watching the entire of
the 1996 film for. Tonally it would have suited the 2012 film better,
but as they is introducing a far grittier world and justice department
pehaps we are better off without it, so we can say we are lucky enough
to have seen in it in 1996.


And lets list those poor suffering co-actors by name, because god
knows they've got no credit from anyone else for their work on this
turkey. Diane Lane is good as Hershey, trying to show some of the
steel of the real character though a role which is pure love interest
(Hershey is almost as taciturn as Dredd in the comics, she makes
Anderson look like Paris Hilton). Max von Sydow and Jurgen Prochnow
bring their A games and way too much gravitas for what is a kids film.
The Angel Gang (cult actor Scott Wilson as Pa Angel!) totally nail it
for me. I even like Armand Assante, obviously overacting his tits off
but genuinely seeming to give a shit for the role and the subject.

And there is of course the robot, a fantastic piece of design and
puppetry, who is actually namechecked in the script as
"..one of those old ABC Warriors" confirming his presence as 2000AD
stalwart Hammerstein, even if he is used merely to retread the killer
robot role from Hardware (see above). It is a pretty artistically
bankrupt movie whose best detail is ripped off from a movie that
itself ripped off the idea from a 2000AD strip...

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