This might be the coolest movie I’ve seen since, well, Looper but it is still pretty damn cool. A faithful adaption of one the most popular cult superheroes, Dredd is a great (hopefully) start for a more gritty and dark comic book character. Staring Karl Urban (remember he was that dude from Lord of the Rings) as the very strong willed and mechanical Dredd, the film hinges on a very good if not a very minimal performance from him. Urban is reduced to talking in a deep voice and frowning for most of the film’s running time but his performance is just the right amount of tough to keep the punch lines from becoming cheesy. Oh yea and Urban also shots a lot of people as the film is centered on a very long day/night when Dredd and his trainee (Judge Anderson) are locked in a sort of city/building. Similar to the story line of The Raid, Dredd is action packed as our hero has to work his way from floor to floor. Dredd could have followed the regular Origin story formula but it bravely decides to go in a different direction. A sort of “day in the life” superhero movie, Dredd’s best asset is its refreshing tone and structure. Dredd works as a single story and introduces characters without the weight of fleshing them out as the action and story do the trick. This a lean film that cuts away all the fat of a superhero origin film, which leads to a quick yet satisfying introduction to a character that deserves a chance for his very own franchise.
Finally a musical I can stand behind, Les Miserables is one of the best pieces of epic soap opera that I have seen in a long time. A gritty and real look at the 1800s, Les Mis is the perfect throwback musical to the music and culture of old. I have to admit that I have never seen a production of this famous musical but the film does a great job in presenting a classic story to a new age audience. Headlined by one of the best performances of the year, Hugh Jackman carries this exhausting (in a good way) film about love, loss, and moving forward. This is the first performance by this usually fair actor that left me thoroughly impressed. Hugh doesn’t just own the role but he owns the very unique feel of the movie. Anne Hathaway gives her second great performance of the year (the first being Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises) as she delivers one of the most iconic film moments of 2012.
All in all I was very impressed with how emotionally engaging this two and half hour film was. It is a movie that works from its very first images to its very rousing finale. Hate it or Love it, Les Miserables is for those that are still captivated by the power of a well-placed tune and thought.
A very conflicted movie that didn’t hit me till its very somber ending, Perks is a movie that I feel bad about hating. Maybe it is the way it sets up its climax with indulgent material but through most of its running time I kept wishing it would end. The film tells a very depressing tale but it doesn’t tell it very well. Ridiculous hipster and high school clichés plague the early goings as the film produces many eye rolling inducing moments. Not to say that I don’t think that each problem doesn’t exist but the world doesn’t always work at being an extreme example of it self. The movie does sort of redeem it self towards the end when it finally speaks to the audience’s own internal problems but the presentation of its earlier moments leaves the movie on an uncomfortable edge. Not the most realistic image of high school life, Wallflower is for all the dramatic people in the world that don’t see the subtle madness of their own life.