I do enjoy myself some hard core action flicks now and then, and am not adverse to a little bit of cinematic violence as long as it is cinematic enough to not seem too…real. Hence, with rave reviews of Dredd 3D swirling around the interweb, I set out to see this flick (and thanks to Anna and Michael for ensuring I didn’t have to be Nigel No-Mates at the movies!).
I didn’t know a lot about the comic this was based on going in – aside from it was set in a post-apocolyptic future, the titular character was a hard as nails law man named Dredd, and he never – I repeat, never – took his helmet off. I think I have seen the Sylvester Stallone version of the film – where he did commit the cardinal sin of removing his helmet – but I have no lasting memories of it.
So I went in expecting some impressive action sequences, some violence that would make me cover my eyes a few times, and kiwi Karl Urban giving good chin (which he did). What I wasn’t expecting was how beautiful it would look. Beautiful you ask? Yes, beautiful. Part of the story involves a drug called Slo-Mo, which slows the user’s perception of time to 1% of its usual pace. The sequences shot from this perspective were simply stunning – and provided colour and beauty that contrasted brilliantly with the grimy apocalypse of Mega City One. The 3D was used to impressive effect here, and I have to say it must be one of the best uses of it I have seen in quite some time.
The characters too were suitably 3 dimensional. Karl’s gruff Dredd was all action and very few words, but he managed to portray his feelings incredibly well considering he was covered in body armour and a helmet covering everything but his chin. He was well matched by Olivia Thirlby, playing psychic rookie Anderson. She was equal parts tough and human, and had fun with the sequences involving putting herself in bad guy Kay’s head (played by Wood Harris who was Avon Barksdale in The Wire (bugged me the whole movie trying to work out what I knew him from)). But the show stealer had to be Lena Headey as Ma-Ma – leader of the drug cartel controlling the building in which Dredd and Anderson find themselves trapped. Headey seems to revel in strong but very evil female characters (she is Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones), and here creates one of the best female villains I have ever been seriously intimidated by.
Overall this isn’t a complex story by any stretch, but it punches above its relatively small budget weight in the action, cinematography and performances stakes. So if you can handle a few instances of squirm in your seat grossness, it is well worth the extra cash for the 3D. Four and a half M&Ms from me.
And just to prove I am an unpredictable movie goer, my next review is a chick flick about an all-girl college a capella group – Pitch Perfect. Again I had been looking forward to this for ages as it starred the always awesome Anna Kendrick and there was group singing. I am a sucker for group singing, what can I say.
This one has another fairly simple premise – alternative-wants-to-be-a-DJ new college student Beca gets sucked into joining an all-girl a capella group made up of slightly misfit individuals letting their freak flags fly (for the most part). Kendrick plays Beca with wit and charm and her vocal chords were a revelation (if you want to see an impressive thing she can do with aforementioned chords and a cup, watch this).
But the show is stolen here by Australian Rebel Wilson as ‘Fat Amy’ (self-named so ‘twig bitches like you don’t call me that behind my back’). This is just one of Fat Amy’s MANY snort inducing lines, that made me re-evaluate an actress I had previously found just a little annoying (in Bridesmaids and What to Expect When You’re Expecting). But here she was the life of the party and injected some randomness into what could have been a ‘hold the cheese’ tale.
The music was also a cut above. This isn’t just a Glee rip off, and the musical mash-ups leave some of that show’s better performances for dust. The ‘riff-off’ sequence in particular was a foot-stomping piece de resistance. So good in fact, that I (legally!) downloaded the soundtrack straight after watching the film.
But the thing that made Pitch Perfect better than so many other films of its kind is the script. Proving once again that females really can write some funny shit, the script here is full of incredibly smart and timely one-liners. The cinema was chock full of both boys and girls and there were belly-laughs a plenty (even from my friend Kendyll who came with me under protest). So, if you want a good laugh and a good film to hum along to (just not too loudly people…it’s a cinema after all) this is the one for you. Take four different coloured M&Ms for a pitch perfect performance.