Dredd

Judge Dredd Still ImageYesterday the mood finally struck me to watch Dredd, the 2012 re-hash of the 2000AD comic book hero. Fortunately, yes, it was better than Stallone’s original incarnation. But the film has been the subject of a lot scrutiny since it basically has the exact same plot as The Raid, which is probably the best action film of the decade leaving Dredd with a rather high standard to reach. It’s unfortunate that Dredd was actually in development before The Raid ever was but its release date came afterwards and therefore doesn’t feel original.

Going in I thought the stories couldn’t beĀ exactly the same, surely. But I was shocked by how few differences there were, they might as well have used the same script just with different actors. Perhaps that’ a slight over exaggeration but I’m sure you understand what I’m saying. The differences to be found in Dredd, however, are some of the most interesting parts of the film. In particular the new drug, Slow-Mo which makes the brain see things at 1 per cent their normal speed, it sets up a number of brilliant set pieces and super slow motion shoot-outs. The problem, again, is that the action is nowhere near the level of The Raid and while normally you wouldn’t expect anything be that mind-bogglingly awesome Dredd is fighting a losing battle as it is so similar.

In fact it’s very hard to give it a fair trial, I enjoyed watching but I’d never watch it again because I’d just watch The Raid, if it had come out before it may well have been a much more entertaining watch but I still feel as though even if The Raid did come out after Dredd it would still shit all over it. Let’s be clear Dredd is much better than the Stallone and a much better portrayal of the Judge himself and a well-made action picture but it seems to have been cursed by the worst luck possible, let’s hope it’s not the final nail in the coffin for big screen adaptations though, there’s so much potential in Mega City One.

 

Utopia – Series One

utopia-blogsLast night saw the airing of the last episode of Channel 4’s super-stylish, mind-bending drama series Utopia. But, fingers crossed it will not be the last we see of this intriguing creation from the mind of Dennis Kelly. The series followed a group of misfits who all had an inkling for more knowledge about the Utopia manuscripts they fall together through an internet forum and when they meet up at a pub shit starts to get real. I’m slightly worried that if I say anything more I’ll give away one of the shows many, many twists and turns so I’ll try not to divulge any more of the story.

Basically, this series has been quite simply the best British-made drama series I have seen in a long time. It’s shot with hyper-focussed alarmingly bright colours in almost every scene giving the whole thing a unique and gripping style, mixed with the unusual but tonally perfect score the scene is set for Kelly’s scripts to realise their true potential. Scenes of graphic violence are a signature from the off, with a Tarantino-like zest for seeing our protagonists as well as our antagonist torture each other. And that’s not the only way in which this show had shades of Tarantino, the dialogue although shaky at times, at other moments doesn’t seem a world away from Pulp Fiction. There are some great characters here too, of the gang my favourite was easily Wilson played by Adeel Akhtar, who you may recognise from Four Lions. Wilson is a paranoid computer whizz who has a conspiracy theory for almost everything and is portrayed so well by Akhtar it’s hard to remember how much of an idiot he was in Four Lions. Aside from the main group though, the shows greatest character is Arby (Neil Maskell), a man who seems to have no conscience and throws his weight around killing an torturing anyone in his path to get to Jessica Hyde, ‘Where is Jessica Hyde?’ He speaks drolly and that is his only line for about two or three episodes.

It does have its flaws, at times it felt as though as there’s too much going to fully comprehend all the plots twists and reveals, some of the scenes between group members feel forced and at times unnecessary and I felt as though the Jessica Hyde character never quite lived up to the elusive person we were expecting. But as a whole this really works, I want to go back to the beginning and watch it again to pick up on bits I may have missed and that in itself says a whole lot. This series has raised the bar of not just British TV but TV as a whole, in my opinion, perhaps it’s time for auteurs to make their names in television, let me know what you think on that. And let’s all keep our fingers crossed that we get a second series and that those pesky Americans don’t get their hands on this gold dust and try and re-make it.