Posted by: greercn | September 10, 2012

Total Recall and Dredd 3D

It’s grim, out there in the future. How bad is it? According to these two movies:

a) We will live in huge buildings of mind-boggling ugliness.

b) Lawlessness will rule as the police are crooked and so are the gangs.

c) Most of the world will have been wiped out by nuclear war, so what’s left is overcrowded and multi-level. (Think Manhattan’s High Line, on steroids and without any prettiness at all).

Both “Total Recall” and “Dredd” share lots of common ground. They are remakes of popular films made by much-loved leading men (Arnie in Recall and Sly in Dredd). Most people in blogworld and print-land hate the new versions.

This is a very great pity as it may make you skip two very entertaining films that say a lot about the deepest fears human beings have.

Colin Farrell is just fine as the hero in “Recall”. It’s based on a Philip K Dick story I love and here’s a link to those gorgeous and perfect 11 pages:

If you think you know the plots of either of these films, think again. They have been altered in a big way.

Some roles remain from the other films, in both versions.

Jessica Biel plays the Rachel Ticotin part in  Arnie’s version of “Recall” and Kate Beckinsale – who channels a bizarre mix of Victoria Beckham and Cruella de Vil – is the wife, who seems to have no problems with creating  the “till death do us part” section of her marriage vows as soon as possible.

Fans of Arnie’s “Recall” will be delighted to learn you still get the woman with three breasts, great vehicles and chases and a plausible sense of threat.

I still long for somebody to film the actual story as written, but, hey, that’s obviously just me.

Len Wiseman’s direction is best during the astonishing multi-level chases and weakest during meaningful conversations. Maybe these will not exist in the future, for better or worse.

“Dredd” features some of the best 3D ever. Yes, it can be beyond icky to have glass and blood fly at you but it’s a big wow on the technical achievement level.

Karl Urban plays Dredd, that curiously British-created piece of pure Americana. In the awful and hideous future, he upholds the law.

Unlike Sly, he wears the full helmet of the graphic creation. Between him and Tom Hardy in “The Dark Knight Rises”, there is a whole face.

Urban is very good at the eerie sense of pure purpose inherent in the character. He takes a rookie with him to the almost entirely nasty Peach Trees (so ironic; no peach trees at all)  housing complex, where a gang rules the roost. They make a drug that puts everything into slow motion.

Lena Headey plays the leader of the gang and Olivia Thirlby plays the psychic rookie judge. In the smaller parts, Wood Harris musters a masterful sense of threat as a bad guy.

The most fun in the script comes from the shopping announcements, which must have been written by Alex Garland. It’s worth seeing the whole movie just for these super moments.

The script has wit and style, but “Dredd” is mostly style. I enjoyed it so much and so did everyone at the Stratford Picturehouse, once I told Mr No Manners that if he didn’t stop playing games on his phone, I would get him barred permanently. Amazingly, he shut up and switched off his phone.

It’s full of real homage to and reflection on Judge Dredd and it’s very entertaining. Pete Travis directs with a real love of action and

But, it seems that bleak times produce extremely vicious ideas about the future. “Looper” is out soon and I’ll bet that won’t be any happier a look at times yet to come.

Have you seen any cheerful movies lately? No? Me neither. The future is not so bright that you need shades. It’s terrible.


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