This movie could not have been marketed in a worse way than as another gritty, grey and brown shoot ‘em up, but this time with cops from the near-distant future. The trailers released for this movie induced worldwide groaning so intense that it threatened to shake the San Andreas fault line and send California crashing into the ocean. Of course the people preparing the advertising campaign for this movie were appealing to the lowest common denominator of movie goer who would pay the currency of their respective state to see a Transformers movie. A quick look at IMDB shows that it didn’t attract a lot of attention and flatlined at the box office. But that’s because of what it was. Dredd was different. And you don’t market “different” to the lowest common denominator, for the lowest common denominator you market “same.”
With a mild spoiler for the beginning of the movie I’m going to explain why this movie is different, and why because of that it works. It opens on a brown desert, from which you can see the skyline of a dystopic gray futuristic city. Inside, criminals are running from judges (future cops), but since it’s a little ways in the future you can see the technology is a little different. But you still feel that tingle like this is going to be everyday schlock that you just wasted ten bucks on… and then you see something you don’t normally see in a movie that is shooting for gray and brown; colors.
Like actual, super saturated colors. All you’ve seen are the grays and blacks and browns but now you see vibrant greens and yellows and reds… and it’s beautiful. Then after a moment Judge Dredd shoots a flare into someone’s mouth melting their head. That’s different. That’s fun! If he had just roamed the cityscape and blown everyone’s head off execution style, though exciting in the moment, the effect is lost when he has to do it to everyone else. But because he does things differently, and because the bad guys do things differently, it becomes fun! Why is that so much to ask for in an action movie anymore, that things be different? When a big budget summer blockbuster comes along that costs hundreds of millions of dollars to make it’s totally understandable that the script would be playing it close to the chest. Movies are a business after all, but at least give us something that we can remember past the front doors of the theater!
While it’s not as over the top and satirical as its comic book progenitor, Dredd still delivers on some rather fantastical violence and certain points with Dredd’s rookie partner, Anderson, can move into some ridiculous and genuinely disturbing scenes without losing its grounding in the reality of the setting. The setting is a massive apartment complex severely impoverished and under the control of one massive gang which deals a new kind of drug to the populace and severely punishes anyone who dares step on their turf. So when Judge Dredd steps inside all hell breaks loose. And for the most part it’s a blast to watch.
This movie tanked hard at the box office so show it a little love and pick up a copy of the DVD or Blu-ray since it hit shelves about a couple weeks ago. This movie deserves your money, if anything to encourage the top brass producers to keep making movies that are different. Different is fun and more importantly, it can make oodles and oodles of money if it isn’t marketed as poorly as this movie has been. This movie definitely has flare enough to melt a man’s brain. Use that to sell it, not the copy pasted action sequences that we’ve all seen a million times before.
Check out the color vibrancy and slo-mo in the red band clip below. Seriously though, RED band…