Posts Tagged ‘fun’

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I knew nothing about this book before reading it other than hearing on the side that it was a good bit of fun. After having a hard time trying to find a copy, I finally stumbled upon a copy of the complete series in a beautiful hardback collection.  From looking at the cover I knew that this was going to be something different and fresh. But covers can mislead and some indie titles out there try too hard to seem like a AAA title that they fall flat. How did this pan out…
I can happily say that the comic is about as indie as you can get in the fact that the characters are a bizarre mishmash of humour and seriousness that works for the most part. The characters are genuinely engaging and the story constantly throws new curve balls which only a story about an experimental regime in which people with multiple-personality disorders use their skills to be assassins and the like.  This is where the title falls in with our main protagonist Duncan who happens to think he is also a ninja, a Viking and a cowboy. It is told in a clever way that means you always know which personality is talking either by using portraits of the character or by putting a little image on the speech bubble like a sword or a gun.  I found this worked really well and helped keep the whole thing running forward at a steady pace.
The book is split into two story arcs and each feels different and great. The first really is an introduction and I guess as close as you can get to an origin tale of each of the ‘Triplets’. It has a few plodding moments but on the whole was fun and constantly engaging. The second story is probably a stronger story in both a fun adventure and writing sense although it also isn’t without the odd stumble.   The hardback ‘deluxe’ edition also contains a short story epilogue which rounds everything off perfectly and really makes you think about the whole saga.  I wasn’t expecting a story like this to be as thought provoking as it turned out to be and I will happily read it again and again.
The art by ‘Riley Rossmo’ is phenomenal. I would go as far to say that it is one of the best looking comics / pieces of art that I have ever seen. It really is unlike most other things and works in a stunning way. The only artist that I could compare the work to is ‘Ashley Wood’ and that would only be for the carful use of colours and heavily scratchy looking artwork. The book isn’t black and white but then again it’s not full colour as one usually sees it. There is a carful use of light and dark that echoes the locations and the characters that inhabit the comic world.  You can literally turn to a random page and you will see something that stands out. It’s truly a beautiful piece of work that never gets stale and never looks anything less than steller.
Although I love this book I do have a couple of issues with it. Firstly sometimes it is hard to figure out which way the panels run; i.e. . Across the pages or the usual sticking to one page. I found I had to guess a couple of times because I just couldn’t work out where the next panel was. I found that when this happened it did take me out of the story. Some of the characters get confusing in terms of who their alter egos are but again it wasn’t too bad. The same can be said for some of the dialogue which at times tries far to hard and just gets confusing.  I commend them for some of the clever statements they are trying to make in the story but sometimes less is definitely more.
With that said I couldn’t get enough of ‘Cowboy Ninja Viking’ and could have happily read more (fighting through the odd confusing moment). This is a phenomenal book and a great piece of fiction that happily now sits up near the top of the best things I’ve ever read.  If you can find a copy and think you’d enjoy something a bit weird, a little funny and surprisingly thought-provoking you’d be hard pressed to find something better then Cowboy Ninja Viking

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For years Laurie Strode has been haunted be reoccurring nightmares of her older ‘serial killer’ brother Michael. Now 20 years later he is back and this time Laurie must fight back or risk her son’s life.

‘Halloween’ was the first horror film I remember seeing as a kid that truly scared me and as such has always been the blueprint I judge other slasher/horror films on. I worked incredibly well and the atmosphere created has yet to be beaten in my view. Michael is on screen very little but you have the constant feeling he could be anywhere and that anyone could die.

The films that followed never reached the same standard set by the first film although I do really like all of them (minus the remakes and resurrection.). I even like the third film that has no relation to the franchise.  The first two films painted Michael as this unstoppable human that could take a ridiculous amount of punishment whereas the later films painted him as some kind of supernatural monster which I never felt worked as well. I find that villains are scarier if they’re human instead of being a ghost or demon.

This is where ‘Halloween: H20’ comes in. Set exactly 20 years after the original (and also released exactly 20 years after the orginal) this could be argued to be the true continuation after part II. Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode which is great and it’s great to watch her character evolve throughout the films runtime from hunted to hunter.

H20 goes back to the suspense that made the first film so good (although tries too hard to appease modern day horror fans by upping the pace). The director Steve Miner obviously loves the first film and as such has echoes of it running through his film, from Laurie hiding in a cupboard, to the reoccurring silhouette shots of Michael. For a modern day slasher film (well 1998) there are very few deaths and the ones there are generally committed off-screen. I think this is a great move as a few come as surprises when the other characters find the bodies. This helps the films overall atmosphere. It unfortunately looks a little too ‘glossy’ for its own good and at times draws you out of the picture. The music helps bring you back in which on the whole is very good.

The acting is overall very strong with a great performance from Jamie Lee Curtis. Josh Hartnett is great as her son (in his first lead role). You also have LL Cool J, Janet Leigh (Jamie Lee Curtis’s real life mother) and you even get an early performance (if very short) from the great Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  All of the main characters are likeable and you actually care for them.

The only real failing of the film is the fact that we see Michael too much and he never really comes as a surprise like in the original. The tension is never there 100%. That’s not to say there isn’t any. It’s just doesn’t pull off the tension like the original did.

Saying that, H20 is probably my second favourite ‘Halloween’ film after the first (although I do love the third film as a different kind of horror film. I like what they’ve done with the character of Laurie and it’s nice to see her magnificent return (feeling a little like the return of Nancy in ‘Nightmare on Elm Street 3’).

I’d say it’s well worth watching if you are a fan of the series (although I’d expect most fans to have already seen it) or even if you just like a good slasher flick… 7/10

GIVE ME BACK MY…….UM……..SELF? THEN MY WIFE!

Liam Neeson is back as former CIA Operative Bryan Mills in the sequel that very few (myself included) wanted.

2008’s ‘Taken’ was a reasonable piece of fun but was nothing special in my eyes. It was essentially Liam Neeson running around punching people in the throats while shouting ‘GIVE ME BACK MY DAUGHTER!’. I watched it and found it took itself far too seriously and was frankly lacking in pretty much everything. The action wasn’t particularly well directed, the script was awful (which is a shame as it was co-written by Luc Besson who created masterpieces such as ‘La Femme Nikita’ and ‘Leon’). With my thoughts of the first film as they were, you can imagine my enthusiasm when I heard they were making a sequel in 2012. I ended up getting the chance to watch it so I thought I may as well.

The second film follows on from the events of the first film with Bryan having got back his daughter Kim and killing the people who took her. A while later (not quite sure how long) he invites his ex-wife and daughter to Istanbul where he is working. While there, Murad Krasniqi (the father of the main thug who took Bryan’s daughter) decides he wants revenge. He kidnaps Bryan and his wife. This time his daughter must find him……….

With essentially a rehashed plot from the first film, just in reverse I was really expecting nothing from this film, but I must say I was a little surprised. It seems to take itself tongue in cheek unlike the first film. This really helped me enjoy some of the ridiculous things that happen, such as Kim throwing grenades randomly around the city to triangulate Bryan’s position (it really is as stupid as it sounds). I love the fact no one pays any attention to all these random explosions or the random shootings in the streets. But they do notice a car travelling too fast! (they know where the real problems are.)

The plot is silly, the script is pretty dire, the acting is mainly bad (apart from Neeson who does occasionally look bored) but the film has got a few good points:

  • The action is very well directed and is pretty good. (although a lack of throat punching from Neeson). There is a good car chase towards the end which I really enjoyed (even if it felt slightly too long). This car chase did lead to the problem of the finale to the film being pretty anticlimactic coming straight after this high speed action.
  • The pacing isn’t bad for this kind of film and I never felt bored (or at least not for a prolonged amount of time
  • It has a good musical score that matches the film pretty well, although at times seems a little overpowering.

As I say the film isn’t too bad and if you can turn your brain off and accept it as the ‘popcorn’ flick that it is you should have a good time. 6/10

 

 

Growing up, it was all about running around the garden shouting the names of dinosaurs while holding our ‘morphers’ in front of us. We’d then fight each other like we were shown on television (this may be one of those times when violence on TV kinda did cause violence in the youth).  We’d continue this until the enemy was vanquished; we were called in for dinner. Or the program we that taught us these fight moves came on. That program was MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS.

Fast forward almost 20 years and the show is still going. It has lost most of the magic that once made it so great and made it truly stand out from everything else on TV but still its legacy continues. I remember the afternoon they aired the first episode in the UK. Me and a friend sat there glued to the screen (not literally), we had seen nothing like this before. Taking the kung Fu from its Japanese predecessor and the likeable American teens reminiscent of those from Saved by the Bell, Power Rangers broke new ground. Of course years before there were the badly dubbed episodes of shows like ‘Monkey’ and ‘The Water Margin’ but this was straight out of the west and just felt fresh.

The main group of rangers has changed over the years but during the first 3 amazing seasons (some of this team appeared in the third season), one movie, and one sequel series (Zeo) we had the best team of all Tommy, Billy, Kimberley, Rocky, Adam and Aisha.

I remember that as a kid the sheer amount of violence in the series was captivating. It was something you just didn’t see as much of in a single show. Sure you had things like Thundercats and He-man, but they were animated. Now we had real people beating up other real (when they’re not models) people. The media were all over this yet they never really won. I guess they’ve toned it all down a bit since the original 3 series and film but there is still a lot of fighting.  Power Rangers was essentially a combination or fighting, explosions, monsters, more fighting, bigger monsters and even more fighting.

As such a fan of the TV series I was so excited to see that they were making a feature film. I remember dragging my parents to the cinema to see what I hoped would be the ultimate Power Rangers experience. I wasn’t disappointed. The film blew my mind. The monsters were bigger, the villain more over the top, the fights were bigger (it was the first film I saw where a person backflips over another person). In fact it was just like an extended episode with a much bigger budget.

But has the film held up 19 years on?

The short answer in my eyes is yes. It may not be worthy of any awards but it is still a fun (violent) adventure film for children. Let me get the violence out of the way first. Unlike the series where the bad ‘lackeys’ were made of putty and kind of ran away clutching their chests when defeated, the film features ‘lackeys’ made from ooze. During one of the big (pretty well choreographed) fights in a construction yard, these villains are exploding from punches and splattering everywhere. If you changed the ooze for blood the film would easily have to be cut. There is one moment when a skip is dropped on a few of these Ooze creatures and they get crushed, ooze seeping from underneath. As a kid you don’t really question it but now it’s a bit close to having blood splattering everywhere and occasionally a little uncomfortable. The rangers don’t seem fazed by all this ooze exploding onto them, in fact they don’t seem fazed about killing anything that doesn’t look human (watch out E.T). The fights themselves are surprisingly well put together and are actually quite fun to watch.

The money has really be invested wisely while making the film as the locations and the costumes also are a massive step up from the series (they now have leather suits instead of spandex). There is also a far more varied variety of locations from forests to temples to cities to construction yards. It gives the whole film more scope and a more ‘epic’ feel.

Another thing the film gets right is the rangers themselves. They are all likeable and believable. They feel like real teens (well ok mid 20 year olds) who want to help and save the day. Many children’s shows feature annoying characters that whine and moan every step of the way. Here we actually have a good team of people that feel like the know each other (most worked together on the series) and trust each other to get things done.

I love this film. I really do. It brought back so much nostalgia. But that isn’t to say it’s perfect. Far from it.

The biggest flaw in my eyes is the use of CGI over miniatures. I’ve always preferred model work as I find it ages far less and looks more believable when done right. Just look at Star Wars a new hope. Not the redone version but the original. Sure it’s looking slightly ropey, but it always did. It hasn’t aged though. Now look at this film or the feature film version of ‘Lost in Space’. They look pretty bad. This especially. The Zords look terrible as does the ridiculous gigantic version of Ivan Ooze (the villain of the picture). It is horrible to watch. CGI can be used very effectively as can be seen in things like ‘Lord of the Rings’ but even then I find that any characters generated on a computer age quite quickly. I find CGI is better used to enhance what is already there or sculpting part of landscapes. The more hidden, the better.

I also didn’t care for the side plot of the film with all the parents of Angel Grove (home of the Power Rangers) turning into zombies under Oozes control. I’d have preferred to stick with the rangers training in the way of the ninja.

As a standalone film I think it is a great bit of entertainment. As an evolution and companion to the TV series I’d say it’s a complete success (excluding the CGI). I’d say it’s well worth a watch for nostalgia fans and a must see for current fans of Power Rangers who missed out on the very best of it… 7/10

GO GO POWER RANGERS!!!!!!!

 

Eric Robert crops up when you least expect him!!!!!

The film concerns Rick played by the very good Jake Busey (son of Gary) as he travels across america to have sex with his porn star idle Ginger played by Jennifer Tilly. Along the way he meets the eccentric Jules played by the brilliant Crispin Glover. Together they go on an epic road trip full of sex, violence and Eric Roberts.

Eric Roberts only appears in the film for a short amount of time but he is amazing and plays a pretty scary role in what is possibly one of the most awkward kinda rape scenes I’ve ever seen in film. It’s a hard film to place in a specific genre or even fully explain as it hops around wherever it feels like (much like the characters contained within it.) All I know is It was good, verging on very good.

I was really surprised by this film as it had a lot more depth to it than I expected, with some actually quite moving segments towards the end. I must also say that it has a pretty brilliant ending that left me feeling a lot more satisfied then i expected.

It is really well acted and although the plot isn’t wholly original, I think it has just enough to make it stand apart from the crowd. I’d say it’s worth checking out. 6/10

Say what you will about the insane amount of dance films that have come out in recent years but I’d argue that most of the haters haven’t actually watched the films they claim to hate. I belive it’s more of a ‘I won’t like that kind of film’ mentality that sways judgement without even giving the film the benefit of the doubt. I would’ve had the same mentality (heck, I did for a while) but then I decided to give some of the films a shot and you know what …. I kind of enjoyed some of them. I would even say that I really liked some of them.

Before you stop reading, hear me out……

At some point a few years ago I caught ‘Step Up 2’ on Tv and thought it was awful except for the final dance number which I thought was incredibly well choreographed and really well filmed. This in turn led me to start checking out some of the other dance flicks out there to see what the dance numbers were like.  I grew to kinda enjoy big ensemble dance numbers as well as just good choreography (in a way I kind of enjoy the dances in films much like the fights in martial arts films).

For some reason I was really interested in seeing Step UP 3 (will review at a later date) when it came out and after seeing it became really excited about the prospect of number 4 (to a lot of mockery from friends). When it was finally released on dvd I didn’t hesitate picking it up.

I watched it and was like ‘WOW’. The dances are amongst some of the very best I’ve seen in modern films and to be fair the acting isn’t all that bad. One of the things the film does 100% right is the fact it focuses on the dance numbers more than the rather basic plot (your usual Romeo and Juliet-esque love story). I was hooked from the first dance to the very last and thought that all of them were amazing (especially the one in the offices of the big land grabbing cooperation (oh yeah there is the other side of the plot about the lead female’s father trying to buy up land to turn into hotels.)

Ryan Guzman and Cleopatra Coleman are both great in the two lead roles and actually look to have a spark between them in the more romantic scenes (again generally dance numbers).

I’d say that this film is well worth seeing, or even trying. It’s much better then one would think (especially for the fourth film in a franchise). I’d even say that this is possibly the strongest of all the Step Up films. It’s brilliantly directed, amazingly filmed and a great piece of fun….  8/10

 

recently I’ve discovered the wonderous back catalogue of films distributed by Odyssey Films. Almost all of them are TV movies but every one I’ve seen has been anything from good to brilliant. Most of the films are ‘based on true events’ which always makes me slightly dubious but here the stories do feel like the stories that inspired them. Many of these films feature some big name stars (generally before they became big) such as, Brad Pitt, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ving Rhames, Terry O’Quinn etc….

‘Deadly whispers’ concerns the murder of a nineteen year old girl. Every clue leads to her father, but how could a nice, kind family man do such a thing?

Tony Danza gives a brilliant performance as lead male Tom who is nice family man with a dark side. He has the perfect balance and his performance reminds me slightly of Jack Nicholson’s in ‘the Shining’ (not as great but just as creepy). His wife is played by Pamela Reed (who I’d only seen in comedies prior to this). As she is kind of the main character of the piece, it is on her shoulders that the threat rests. If we didn’t feel for her and the kids, the film would be a failure. The good news is she’s great. In fact almost everyone in the film plays their role really well.

The direction is tight as is the camerawork. It does have that feel of ‘TV film’ but it never detracted from the action on-screen.

Overall I really enjoyed the film (not as much as some of the others from ‘Odyssey’, but still…) It’s well worth seeing if you have an afternoon free, although I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again. 6/10

I’m here today to compare and figure out which is better, Judge Dredd (1995) – directed by Danny Cannon or Dredd (2012) – directed by Pete Travis?

Firstly I know that it’s not good to compare movies and it’s better to take each movie on its own. But having tried to write separate reviews for each of these films I just can’t help it. As such I have decided to do a proper ‘VS’ section on this blog with these films being the first comparison.

One of the reasons I find it impossible not to compare the films is because I grew up reading Judge Dredd and still read it now. As such I have very strong feelings towards the character and his world, meaning I automatically analyse any media based on the property (sometimes unfairly, but most of the time I think I can clearly justify my reasons.).

 

BASIC BACK STORY OF JUDGE DREDD

In the future the world is a scarred wasteland after international conflicts leading to mass nuclear warfare. Most of the world is radioactive ‘hell on earth’ and is known to the people of the few surviving cities as ‘The Cursed Earth’. In the dystopian city of Mega City One (the main location for the Dredd comics), crime is an everyday thing that people take for granted. Gangs attempt to rule the city and the only things standing in their way are the ‘Judges’ (Judge, Jury and Executioner all in one). Of all the Judges in the city, one if feared above all others, ‘Dredd’. (Essentially Dredd is the ultimate badass who will only give up when he’s dead.)

The idea of Judge Dredd is simple at heart but can be as complex as the writers of the comics want to go. Dredd was spawned in issue 2 of the British comic publication ‘2000ad’ in 1977. This joint creation by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra was an instant hit and is now known the world over in almost all mediums (books, films, comics, videogames, board games etc…) Only 2 official feature films have been of the character. One in 1995 directed by Danny Cannon which came out to a pretty negative reaction and the other directed in 2012 by Pete Travis which aimed to fix the problems people had with the 1995 picture.

So let’s begin the review/comparison:

PLOT

Judge Dredd (1995) –

Dredd is convicted of a murder he did not commit and is sentenced to life imprisonment (after the Chief Judge stands down in order to spare Dredd’s life.) The true culprit of the murder sets about to take over the law department so he can rule over Mega City One. Dredd must find a way back into the city and clear his name before it’s too late.

Dredd (2012) –

Dredd and new recruit Judge Anderson are sent into Peach Trees (a 200 storey tall slum block – essentially a vertical city) to investigate the murder of three drug dealers. After raiding a drugs den they soon find the Owner of the block won’t let them leave easily and has locked down the entire block. Dredd and Anderson must find a way out before they themselves become bullet ridden bodies on the floor.

————–

Two similar films with two very different plots.

  • JUDGE DREDD: The 1995 film has the sort of plot that seemed very popular in the 1990’s and unlike most people I don’t see it as that much of a problem. You could argue that there are hundreds of Judge Dredd storylines they could have used (especially the ‘Judge Death’ storylines) but instead they go with a pretty formulaic ‘man sets out to prove his innocence’ story. Many critics and viewers a like didn’t like the simplistic story and the fact that the plot was very ‘Americanised’, but I think it works and to be fair Dredd has always been quite ‘American’ in style (It’s even set in America). It may not pick holes in the political system as much as the comics but it does the job. One thing that the story does really well is ‘scope’. We get a look at a large chunk of Mega City One and even get a look at the wasteland outside its walls. The plot also incorporates many other characters from the Dredd universe (as well as a few other 2000ad properties). Overall I think the plot works as a great introduction to the character of Dredd and proves to be an above average sci-fi plot. 7/10
  • DREDD: The 2012 film is much smaller in scale compared to the 1995 picture as it is mainly set in a large tower block. It tries to explain the city but struggles because of its limited locations. The story does feel like the sort of tale that is in the comics which is good, but what works in comics does not mean it’ll work in a padded out feature film. There just isn’t enough story to fill out the full run time of the film as essentially it consists of them trying to escape then deciding to go kill ‘Ma Ma’ (the head gang leader). It’s sufficient but really is as simplistic as they come. Also for a film which aims to make the story ‘more like the comics’ it fails to explain factors such as the Psi-Division (a select group of psychic Judges – one of which being Anderson). 4/10

CHARACTERS

DREDD

The main character of both films is of course the title character ‘Judge Dredd’. Both films provide a very different take on the character. (In my view neither is perfect):

  • JUDGE DREDD: The title role is held by Sylvester Stallone that many seemed to agree made a great Dredd until he takes his helmet off (not because it is Stallone underneath but because in the comics he rarely removes his helmet and even when he does you never see his face. in the 35+ years the comic has been running his face has never been shown clearly.) for many this was enough for them to instantly dismiss the film as a whole. For me I honestly didn’t mind. The main reason he takes his helmet off is because when you have a film with Stallone in you kind of have to show his face (well you kind of did in the 90’s.) You also have to remember that Dredd wasn’t as widely known around the world and as such was a gamble they hoped would pay off after the success of other comic book films in the years previous. (Without Stallone I doubt the film would have been made and I doubt he would have done it if you never saw his face.) Enough about the helmet issue. In my view, Stallone plays the part pretty much perfectly. He may not be the best actor in the world but his lack of acting and ‘woodenness’ help portray the cold character from the comics. (This is not to say I don’t like Stallone in other films. I think he can be a good actor and he usually does the job put before him, pretty admirably.) In this film he delivers each line like the character from the comic (even when he’s trying to add an emotional depth to the character). He also has the physical presence that Dredd is meant to have helping you believe why people would both fear and respect him… Stallone pretty much carries the film on his back with his portrayal of Dredd and as such you’ve got to commend him. 8/10
  • DREDD: For this version of Dredd we get the actor Karl Urban. Although nowhere near as big an actor as Stallone, Urban has in recent years been in some of the biggest films such as ‘Star Trek’ and ‘the Chronicles of Riddick’. He is a great actor and in terms of acting is far superior to Stallone. This is where my problem with him as Dredd lies. Dredd is meant to be ‘cold’ and doesn’t ever really show emotion (even though Stallone’s tried to). Urban just doesn’t have the coldness. He delivers each line with too much emotion and it just feels forced (almost like he trying to imitate Stallone’s ‘non-acting’) He also doesn’t have the presence that Dredd has in the comics. In the film he just feels like a member of a S.W.A.T team. For me I just didn’t believe in the character and as such just found him a kind of failure (Which I find sad as I usually really like Urban as an actor). 4/10

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS & VILLIAN

Interestingly both films use different supporting characters from the comics, so this is less a comparison of the actor’s portraying them and more on the strength of them as how they fit into the story.

  • JUDGE DREDD: The main supporting character in the film is ‘Fergee’ played by comedian Rob Schneider. When I first watched the film I didn’t like the comedicness of the character as I found it detracted from the reasonably dark storyline. Having reread many of the comics from the 90’s (and even many of the more recent ones) I kind of like the character now. It’s where the humour from the comics kind of comes through. He’s not great but he plays off Stallone pretty well. The main female in the film is ‘Judge Hershey’ played by Diane Lane. She is a strong female character and does all of the ‘thinking’ in the film. She is the character who is ruching against time to try and clear Dredd’s name. She is a good actress and she is great here. The main bad guy in the flick is ‘Rico’ played by Armand Assante. He does the job as a villain but never feels truly threatening enough for me. I find that you always need a villain equal to or more powerful than the hero. In this I didn’t ever feel that, He only managed to win against Dredd at the start by faking footage and faking Dredd’s uniform. I guess in the grand scheme of things he gets the job done but he never a great character (I think the problem is the character instead of the actual acting). Max Von Syndow also does an admiral job as Chief Judge Fargo. AS a whole everyone does a very good job. 7/10
  • DREDD: ‘Judge Anderson’ is the lead female in the 2012 adaptation and is played amazingly well by Olivia Thirlby. Anderson is a regular character in the comics and it is nice to see her translated well onto film. As the film focuses on the beginning of her career she only begins to become as badass as she is in the comics towards the end. But this doesn’t stop her being great. The problem we have is I think that she’s a far stronger character in this film then Dredd and as such I feel this impacted on the whole film. I didn’t care about Dredd and was just keen to watch Anderson’s development. The villain of the picture is Madeline ‘Ma-Ma’ Madrigal played by Lena Headey and again she never feels ‘evil’ enough. She’s probably a better villain and more comic like then ‘Rico’ from the ’95 film but she still isn’t amazing. You see some of her power coming through but never the full extent of how strong she is (considering she led her gang to take over the entire block). There are a few other incidental characters that do the job but no one else is standout. 6/10 (For Thirlby’s portrayal of Judge Anderson alone.)

VISUALS & AUDIO

Being comic book adaptations, both films aim to try and recreate the look of the comics. As with everything both take very different routes to doing so:

  • JUDGE DREDD: The 1995 feature uses model work and Matte paintings to help create the dystopian future for Mega City One. As such the effects haven’t really dated; they look like they did when the film was released. The director was very clever in filming almost everything in the city at night, thus helping the dark feel of the city. The ‘Cursed Earth’ bits are done during daytime which helps emphasise the vastness and the bleakness of the hostile terrain. Both play off one another perfectly and help create a great looking Judge Dredd. Dredd has always been one of the ‘darker’ comics and as such that is how I feel it should be filmed. The whole visual style is much akin to films such as ‘The Crow’, ‘Dark City’ and even ‘Blade runner’. It works really well. The costumes, weapons and vehicles all look like they’ve been pulled straight out of the comics and they are what I remember from when I was young and reading Dredd. Even the ABC warrior is great (although possibly slightly misplaced in this film). It is really well done and looks like it did in the comics. The music is typical of the sort of film it is with a strong score running through it. Nothing much to fault at all 9/10
  • DREDD: This is a tricky one because the film does look very ‘comic-booky’ but it gets boring very fast (at least for me it did) the outside shots look very ‘fake ‘ and CGI which is a shame and I think that it’ll look even worse it years to come. The film also uses a lot of slow motion which does look really good, the first few times then it just gets boring. They use ‘Phantom’ Cameras to film at a ridiculously fast speed meaning they can pretty much slow it down and pause a rain drop if they wanted to. It’s an amazing bit of kit but it can get boring. (It’s not even like its brand new technology or even the first film to be using it. Lars Von Tier used a Phantom camera in 2009 on his film ‘antichrist’ which used the tech a lot more artistically. Even the Jackass franchise used the same tech.) On one hand it does feel like a comic but on the other, the hand that looks at the film as a series of moving images, it sees it as a simple way of padding out a flimsy story with a shortish runtime by an extra 25%. The costumes, weapons and vehicles all feel too different from the comics and from what I remember. They also look far less practical and far more ‘silly’ some of the indoor sets look great but they can’t make up for everything else. The audio takes a very industrial feel which kind of works but sometimes just feel like there are faults in the soundtrack. It’s not bad and I can see what they were going for. They just failed to deliver 5/10

FUN FACTOR

This is where things become even more subjective but I will try to explain my reasons for enjoying/not enjoying each film:

  • JUDGE DREDD: I love this film. It is the definition of a well-made guilty pleasure. The story keeps the pace on-going and Stallone is always watchable on screen. The humour between him and Schneider is great and works really well. I just find this film a great piece of entertainment every time I see it. There are always bits I forget about as well which always gives the film a reasonably fresh feeling. It’s never boring and always enjoyable. 8/10
  • DREDD: I wanted to love this film. The first time I watched it I got around an hour in and just wasn’t enjoying it at all so I turned it off. I thought maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to fully enjoy it. I decided to give it another chance recently and was kind of excited to do so. I don’t know why I was so excited. To be fair it was slightly better than the first time but only marginally. I just found it poorly scripted and really badly paced. I got almost no enjoyment out of it at all and what little I did was from the character of Judge Anderson. 3/10

VERDICT

It’s pretty obvious which of these films I preferred before working out the average score (rounded up) based on all of the above sections. But let’s do it anyway:

JUDGE DREDD – 8/10

DREDD – 5/10

There we have it. I honestly think that the new film was a massive step backwards, both in terms of Dredd films but also Comic book adaptations. The ’95 flick has its problems but they are nowhere near as bad as the problems with the new film (which focuses all on ‘fancy’ visuals instead of story, characters, script, or anything else important.) This is just my opinion but if you want to see the better of the two Judge Dredd films watch the 1995 one (ignore the new one. It’s not even really worth a watch)

For a film with a tag line ‘A bullet made the orphans. Revenge makes them dangerous’, I was expecting a cheap 80’s action flick. It delivered one part of what I expected, The cheap part.

It looks and feels like a movie filmed on cheap film stock by a film crew who were just out of college. It just looks ‘studenty’ and ‘cheap’. I don’t mind bad-looking films as long as they have something that provides me with entertainment (things like ‘Toxic Avenger’, ‘ Maniac Cop’ etc.) This film wasn’t entertainment really. It was boring, poorly scripted and just not really worth the time.

The ‘Bullet’ of the tagline is featured in a boring flashback that the filmmakers keep cutting back to throughout the duration of the movie. It almost feels like the flashback is a way of breaking up the tedious and boring story. (what little there is)

There’s a scene at the beginning with a shotgun rigged to a piece of cat gut. That’s probably the most interesting thing in the whole film (until we see the man who got shot at point-blank range in the scene after with juts a wounded arm.)

It’ s just a bad film that has no merits at all other than the fact that the director made a piece of film that runs from point A to point B in a reasonably coherent fashion.

Not really worth anyone’s time 1/10

Taken was one of those films that never needed a sequel. It was a pretty self contained revenge/rescue picture in which Liam Neeson punched a load of people in the throat. Come 2012 and they decide that in fact they should make a sequel, but this time instead of his daughter being kidnapped it would be Mr Neeson himself (and his wife, but she’s not that important)

I was never a big fan of the first film. I found it boring thriller with a poor script and some poor action sequences (except for Neeson’s throat punches.) So I was not excited at the prospect of a 2nd film. I put off watching it until this evening as I had nothing else I could be bothered to watch.

Boy, was I surprised…….

I really enjoyed it. Yes it has a poor plot and some awful dialogue but it was just fun. It focused almost entirely on action and it did the action really well. It kinda harked back to old school action flicks from the early 90’s. It’s pace was good and I never found myself getting bored. The fight sequences were well choreographed as well as a long car chase (which as car chases go, was very good.)

There are a few things that annoyed me such as the fact that no one seems too bothered by the random explosions that are going off around the city as Neeson’s daughter throws grenades so he can triangulate his position on a map (it is pretty far-fetched.) I think this is one of the reasons why I enjoyed the film. It never really felt it was taking itself too seriously (unlike the first one).

I’d say it’s well worth a watch and should provide a good couple of hours of mindless fun…. 7/10