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Movie Review – Judge Dredd

Category : Uncategorized

Director: Danny Cannon

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, Rob Schneider

Diane Lane, Max von Sydow, Jurgen Prochnow

Year: 1995

About as terrible a hideous mockery of the glory of Blade Runner as you can get, Judge Dredd is a movie that slaps you so hard it kills your brain cells and makes you a dumber person for the rest of your life.  It’s a comic book, it’s dystopia, it’s a ripoff, it’s everything we never wanted, and it’s also the most hideously-acted piece of rotten garbage that I have ever had the disaster to stumble across.  Needless to say, I did not find this sci-fi over-drama enjoyable, a la Starship Troopers; I found it stupid, insulting, ugly, and plain embarrassing.

In the future, all humanity will live in Mega Cities, walled off from the destroyed outside world, where the planet lies dying.  Crime is out of control, riots are commonplace, order is abandoned, at least until the iron fists of the Judges step in.  This new breed of policemen are judge, jury, & executioner all rolled into one, and they aren’t afraid to shoot first & ask questions later.  The most deadly among then; Judge Dredd, who seems to have been born to kill.  But when he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he finally understands that the justice system of the new world might not be at all just, just corrupt.

Oh my dear god what have I done.  Somehow I skipped watching this in the 90s, although I saw a lot of similar flicks in the 80s & 90s, and enjoyed many of them.  This genre can be fun; the future, flying cars, dirty streets, crooked politicians, a fight for survival, the pain of change.  Blade Runner, Running Man, Fifth Element; there are a ton that come to mind, but this is definitely special among that group, in that it’s the worst movie ever made.  Just pathetic and silly and farcical and unoriginal and dull; it’s everything bad rolled into one festering wound.  Sly was as bad as I’ve ever seen him, the rest of the cast was a joke, even though you know the names, and every scene seemed to be competing with the preceding to see which could injure us more.  I feel that my taste level has taken a hit and that I need to watch something very good very soon, or else risk a permanent step back.  Jesus.

My rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Knives Out

Category : Uncategorized

Director: Rian Johnson

Starring: Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans

Year: 2019

Rian Johnson’s whodunit is a modern day Agatha Christie success, a slap in the face to cliches like Murder on the Orient Express, and a recipe for directors to follow moving forward, if, you know, they’re interested in making something good.  Is Rian Johnson a better director than Kenneth Branagh by default now, especially with a Star Wars movie under his belt as well?  Maybe, at least a better creator of movies for the now, as opposed to classics come to life, with Knives Out proving that he can craft something clever and yet not too clever, fresh but still grounded in tradition.  Basically, this film is one of the best murder mysteries you’ll ever watch, a fabulous blend of horror and comedy, blood and bloodlines, absurd and understandable.  2019 might see some better overall features, but perhaps none so fun, and that’s no insult.

Harlan Thrombey, the elderly author of a famous crime novel series, has died, and every one of his family members is a suspect.  They were all at the Thrombey mansion for Harlan’s birthday party, and it seems that he took advantage of their presence to give each one of them a piece of bad news.  Being greedy and spoiled, his children and grandchildren all took the telling off terribly, and so each has a motive.  Enter the enigmatic super sleuth Benoit Blanc, who suspects foul play, although the death has been ruled a suicide.  He tasks young family nurse Marta Cabrera with acting as his trusty sidekick, being convinced of her innocence, and relying on her knowledge of the household and tendency to always tell the truth.  But there are more twists in the plot than might first appear, and much more work to be done by Mr. Blanc before the real killer is caught.

If audiences are looking for a good time this awards season, when heavy dramas might weight holiday spirits down, they would be well-advised to find the nearest showing of Knives Out; it’s two hours you will be happy to spend.  It’s almost audacious that a film like this would come out at this time of year, and legitimately compete for Best Picture among the giants of serious topics and dramatics.  We just don’t see the like very often, especially not this month, which makes it all the more refreshing and wonderful.  Knives Out really is a fully immersive and enveloping murder mystery extravaganza, one that we voluntarily throw ourselves into and forget about whatever else might be going on in our lives.  Johnson allows us to dive in completely because he never lets off the gas, the action is always pumping, the clues are always mounting, and we want to know all the details, we must know all the details, that’s how much an actual part of the fractured family we feel by the end.

It might be surprising to those who have seen this cast list to know that Ana de Armas is the absolute star of the film, since she’s one of the lesser known names, though not at all one of the lesser talents.  She leads the way perfectly, and those who don’t know her well will need to keep their eyes peeled, because she’s only trending upward.  Craig as Blanc was another key character, leading the plot along with his deductions, but adding humor in as well when times got tense.  The comedy was incredibly balance throughout, complimenting the crime element amazingly well, and everyone in the cast pitched in, even the weakest actors among the group, no one misstepped: Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Jaeden Martell.  Katherine Langford from 13 Reasons Why might have been the only noticeable flaw, but her part was small, as were all the family parts really; de Armas & Craig were the clear leads and boy did they lead.  I cared about where the story was going, I cared about how it ended, and I had no problems with the way it was wrapped up, which is rare, that’s hard to do, but Knives Out just proves that it’s not impossible to make a magical murder mystery; let’s just hope we see more.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆