Viewed – 06 May 2013 Blu-ray
I recall enjoying the British science fiction comics 2000 A.D. and Judge Dredd Magazine throughout my childhood and often wondered what a movie adaptation would be like. Over the years since I discovered that perhaps this rich universe wasn’t quite so easy to adapt after witnessing the fun but disappointing Judge Dredd movie starring Sylvester Stallone, who seemed miss-cast in such an iconic role. However now we come to the second attempt to bring this character to the big screen, and rest assured, they seem to have got it (mostly) right this time.
Karl Urban stars as Dredd, one of several future cops who are basically judge, jury and executioner on the mean streets of Mega City One, America’s last surviving city in the middle of a wasteland. Teaming up with psychic rookie ‘Anderson’ (a complex Olivia Thurlby) and called out to a routine triple homicide at a large apartment complex, these two mismatched law enforcers soon find themselves trapped in the building after the mobster ruling over it, Ma-Ma (a wonderfully evil Lena Headey) locks it down. Echoes of Korean martial arts actioner The Raid immediately entered my mind along with thoughts of the first Die Hard movie, and to be honest I was shocked. The Judge Dredd comics had a huge world to pick from with many characters and locations … and the movie chooses to stick to this one, claustrophobic setting? Okay … well let me just say, it works a treat delivering a violent and intense experience that not only perfectly captures the character of Dredd (and fans rejoice - Karl Urban never removes his helmet) but also delivers a full on action-fest.
Director Pete Travis has made a very stylish and enjoyably gory movie that hits hard. Africa’s Cape Town standing in for Mega City One is stunning in it’s architecture and the subtle use of CGI helped create a believable futuristic world without overwhelming. Slow motion effects showing the use of a black market drug are also impressive, and overall I had a great time. Yes for such an iconic character and universe – there is so much more that could have been done here, but perhaps playing to it’s strengths rather than blowing the budget was the right choice.
Verdict: 4 /5
- Movie Review: Dredd (2012) (johnreviewsmovies.wordpress.com)
- Karl Urban is the law – Review of Dredd (2012) (filmdays.me)
- Get Ready to Experience the True Colors of the Law in Judge Dredd Classics! (graphicpolicy.com)
Viewed – 12 April 2013 Blu-ray
Always nice to revisit a classic, especially on Blu-ray. I have long loved this Oscar-winning thriller, that for me is still the finest serial killer movie ever made (with Seven being a close second). Sitting down to this last night it wasn’t hard to see why it gained such acclaim. The performances are perfect, with a vulnerable but tough Jodie Foster, near unrecognizable in a black hair dye-job (or wig?). Mentored by Scott Glen’s equally well cast Jack Crawford. Yet the big selling point for me, and what has gone on to define a career is Anthony Hopkins’ amazingly creepy but charismatic turn as Dr Hannibal Lecter – one of the greatest creations in movie villain history.
Foster plays FBI agent Clarice Starling, given the task of interviewing imprisoned serial killer and former psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter as the FBI attempt to track down currently at large killer Buffalo Bill. This is a movie that is just as much character study as it is a thriller, with exceptional performances across the board (with a very unnerving Ted Levine as Bill – ‘it puts the lotion in the basket’), and very well observed and realistic direction from Jonathan Demme. Silence of the Lambs has become the blue-print for all serial killer movies from Seven, to Copycat and even has echoes in current TV series The Following, that for me it just can’t be faulted. Yes over the years it has been satirized which I think is a shame, because on its original release this hit viewers hard, and in my opinion still should.
The Blu-ray isn’t quite as impressive. The picture, whilst acceptable and with moments of good detail, seems overly soft. The sound in 5.1 DTS Master Audio is decent and punchy however with good crisp dialogue, which is very important in this particular movie. Extras are mostly carry-overs from the previous DVD editions, but remain extensive with several documentaries and featurettes, trailers, deleted scenes and outtakes. The only exclusive to this HD release is a feature-length bonus called ‘breaking the silence’ that has the movie playing as interviews with the cast and film makers pop up as well as interesting bits of trivia. An audio commentary would have been nice but is sadly absent.
(the movie) 5 /5
(the Blu-ray) 3.5 /5
- The Silence of the Lambs (Review) (monstersunderthebedgroup1.wordpress.com)
- Hannibal Series Preview: Who’s the Smartest Man in the Room? (dreadcentral.com)
- The Silence of the Lambs (mayoung1127.wordpress.com)
- Hannibal – Not Your Mom’s Hannibal Lecter (televisionwithoutpity.com)
Viewed – 06 April 2013 Blu-ray
Two things to get straight right away. This has nothing to do with the villain of cult favorite series Phantasm, and secondly this isn’t the kind of deeply disturbing, torture endurance test that was Martyrs; Director Pascal Laugier’s previous effort. Starring a dowdy Jessica Biel (sigh…) as a Nurse in a small town that has been rocked to it’s core by a series of child kidnappings, this is a slow burning, creepy and effecting thriller.
I think anyone going into this with memory of Martyr’s might be cautious. Without going into detail, that movie remains one of the most disturbing, get-under-your-skin horror movies ever made, and I still haven’t had the guts to sit down and watch it again. So I understand why this may not have had the press coverage or advertising it deserves. Laugier’s name has become infamous, and it’s a shame because on this evidence he’s a very capable and intelligent film maker. I liked how on the surface it was a mystery surrounding a ghostly boogeyman, but with a real-world relevance that should hit a cord with almost everyone aware of child abduction cases. However this takes a well-trodden subject and shakes it up, with surprising and thought-provoking results. Add to this some thrilling moments (Biel chasing after the kidnapper for example), unnerving editing / camera work, and solid acting with Biel proving more than her usual eye-candy, and also a quality turn from from Jodelle Ferland (Tideland) … I was suitably gripped.
Laugier’s movie likes to play with your expectations, and although I felt the clever narrative occasionally detracted from the overall impact, I still wish to salute the Director for not taking the predictable route with this.
Verdict: 3.5 /5
- Martyrs (2008) by Pascal Laugier: Per Aspera ad Astra (speculativefictionwriting.wordpress.com)
- The Tall Man on Blu-Ray & DVD 11th March 2013 (close-upfilm.com)
- The Tall Man (15) | Close-Up Film DVD Review (close-upfilm.com)
Viewed – 20 March 2013 Blu-ray
Brad Pitt has been out of the spotlight of late, what with his rocky relationships and unsightly beards … but I was glad to hear of this crime thriller, with the Pitster (yes, I just said that) sporting a goatee, slicked back hair and shades … and basically being a bad-ass. Shame then I suppose that it takes quite some screen time before he actually arrives in this above average thriller.
This follows the story of two wet-behind-the-ears crooks who get given the task of robbing a poker game run by the local mob Pitt plays a hit-man hired to step in and figure out who screwed who, and hopefully not ‘wack’ the wrong guy. Add to this small but memorable appearances from Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini, and all the ingredients are here for a decent piece of entertainment.
Set during the Obama / Cain election campaign for some reason, this attempts to be a bit of a commentary on the American way of life, but much of that went over my head. More interested was I in the sharp, engrossing dialogue, good performances and first-rate direction from Andrew Diminik (cult Ozzy film ‘Chopper’) who brings no end of style and panache to proceedings, with some showy camera work and clever use of CGI. This had shades of Martin Scorsese or Michael Mann at times, and the presence of actors from both Goodfellas and TV’s The Sopranos all set the scene perfectly. Sometimes the dialogue drags on a bit and it’s a little lacking in action, but with some infrequent but jolting moments of brutal violence and a good soundtrack I came away suitably impressed.
Verdict: 4 /5
- Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie’s Wine Sells Out In Five Hours (contactmusic.com)
- Kiling Them Softly (patrickmccoy.typepad.com)
- Killing Them Softly Hitting On March 26th (areyouscreening.com)
- James Gandolfini in Talks for Crime Pic ‘Animal Rescue’ (EXCLUSIVE) (variety.com)
Viewed – 16 March 2013 Television
Not sure what made me take so long to get around to seeing this. Perhaps it was the ‘meh’ of another post-apocalyptic scenario? But then again we have Denzel Washington in the lead role, so after several recommendations from friends, I thought I’d finally check it out.
Denzel plays a lone drifter in a wasteland version of America following what appears to be a nuclear war. He carries with him a book as his only companion, reading it each night, and continues on his way, foraging for food and supplies as he finds them. However a local bar owner in one town is also searching for a sacred book, and will stop at nothing to get his hands on it, believing it holds the key to taking control of a destroyed world. Directed by The Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society, From Hell) this certainly looks the part and boasts several decent action sequences, with Denzel proving the ultimate apocalyptic bad-ass. Co-starring the gorgeous Mila Kunis (Black Swan) as well as Gary Oldman as the ruthless villain this is an intriguing and entertaining movie only slightly let down by a clichéd setting and rather simplistic characterization.
As an evenings viewing this proved fun, if undemanding and yes, could have been a lot deeper than it was. The plot is nothing special and took a bit of time to get going. Also some developments towards the end just left me thinking ‘oh come on…’. That being said, Washington as always was great and supported well, especially by a scene-stealing Oldman … so if you are into such concepts – this is still worth a look.
Verdict: 3 /5
- The Book of Eli (prayerwalkerwiththee.wordpress.com)
- Gary Oldman Joins ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ (screenrant.com)
- the book of eli/albert and allen hughes (onderhond.com)
- The Book of Eli (gobeyondblog.com)