Last week saw the release of the first trailer for dystopian sci-fi epic Dredd. Fans of the comic will have been aware of this project for some time now; it being announced back in 2008. At that time, the man in the director’s chair – Pete Travis, had just released his cinematic debut Vantage Point. Since then, he has gone on to direct just once more in political thriller Endgame. Both films, I’m reliably informed, are not too shabby, and so fans have reason to be relatively optimistic. Although, in the aftermath of Dredd’s 1995 outing I’m certain devotees will not be sighing with relief just yet.
Clouded by the naivety that comes with youth, my five-year-old self was probably rather complementary of Judge Dredd back in 95. Partly because after watching First Blood parts I & II obsessively throughout my childhood (illegally of course), Sylvester Stallone could do no wrong. Not becoming a comic book fan until a couple of years ago; how was I to know that Sly had committed a cardinal sin in removing the helmet?! I’m still probably more a fan of that film than most, but even I fail to defend Sly’s barely comprehensible delivery of “I am the law!”.
The appointment of Alex Garland as writer on the project is what will excite fans the most though. Garland was Danny Boyle’s right-hand-man on 28 Days Later, and more importantly Sunshine, which for me set the benchmark for modern sci-fi (its cop-out ending aside). From the trailer we can gather that Garland’s story follows Dredd in his bid to halt the distribution of a dangerous new drug that has taken hold of the inhabitants of Mega-City One. We can also gather that the film will take a stylised approach to its action sequences, based on the amount of slow-motion shots that feature. The trailer also hints at a Die Hard-esque narrative, involving the ascendancy of a crime-filled tower-block in order to kill the bad guys. Karl Urban fulfills the role of judge, jury and executioner, and thankfully keeps the helmet on. Dredd is scheduled for release on 7th September, and I honestly can’t wait to see the results.
Last time I said I would probably only discuss future releases – but screw it. Scanning the shelves of HMV, you may have noticed a new series of actor’s box-sets: Denzel, Walken and Statham all feature. However, I decided to go with Depp, and based on what I’ve seen so far, I urge you do the same. The set features five of Johnny’s more obscure roles, of which I have currently watched three. I am already a big fan of Sleepy Hollow, which for me is the film that perfectly encapsulates the Burton aesthetic. Lost in La Mancha I was less familiar with, but found it to be a fascinating documentary about the pitfalls of film-making. It documents Depp and Terry Gilliam’s attempt to translate epic fantasy novel The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha onto the big screen. An attempt which is stifled time and time again by everything from acts of god to noisy fighter jets.
The only other film I have watched in the set is Dead Man, which also happens to be my favourite so far. indie auteur Jim Jarmusch’s black-and-white western beautifully explores the unforgiving wilderness of the west. If you want to get thematical about it; it shares similarities with Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, in that the physical journey taken by Depp’s protagonist William Blake into the wild, is matched by a spiritual one. The film’s lack of dialogue gives its leading man the opportunity to show off his astonishing knack for physical performance. Watching the film, you are also reminded just how good Lance Henriksen can be when on form. He is truly menacing as metallic-toothed cannibal bounty-hunter Cole Wilson. Neil Young’s soundtrack is brilliantly paced to drift alongside the strangely psychedelic western. And so if ‘a western with a trippy twist’ sounds like your cup of tea, you should definately seek this one out. As for the rest of the box-set, only Arizona Dream and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? to go.
Dead Man Trailer: