REVIEW: DREDD

CAST
Karl Urban (Star Trek)
Olivia Thirlby (Juno)
Wood Harris (Remember The Titans)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Domhall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
The future United States is a dystopic irradiated wasteland known as the Cursed Earth. On the east coast lies Mega-City One, a violent metropolis with 800 million residents and 17,000 crimes reported daily. The only force for order are the Judges, who act as judge, jury and executioner. Judge Dredd is tasked by the Chief Judge with evaluating new recruit Cassandra Anderson, a powerful psychic who failed the aptitude tests to be a Judge.
In Peach Trees, a 200-storey slum tower block, drug lord Madeline Madrigal, also known as “Ma-Ma”, executes three rogue drug dealers by having them skinned alive, infused with Slo-Mo (an addictive new drug which reduces the user’s perception of time to 1% of normal) and thrown down the atrium from the top floor. Dredd and Anderson are sent in to investigate and learn of a drug den, which they raid. They arrest a thug named Kay, whom Anderson’s mind probe reveals to be the one who carried out the drug dealers’ executions. Dredd decides to take him in for questioning. In response, Ma-Ma’s forces seize the tower’s security control room and seal the building, using its blast shields under the pretence of a security test, preventing the Judges from leaving or summoning help.
Ma-Ma orders Dredd and Anderson killed, forcing the Judges to fight their way through dozens of armed thugs. Arriving at the 76th floor, the Judges are assaulted by Ma-Ma and her men with Vulcan cannons that rip through the walls, killing numerous residents. The Judges breach an outer wall and call for backup. Meanwhile, Ma-Ma sends her henchman Caleb to search for the Judges. When they meet, Dredd throws Caleb off the tower in full view of Ma-Ma.
Dredd suspects Ma-Ma is desperate to keep Kay quiet and beats him for information. Anderson reads Kay’s mind and learns that Peach Trees is the centre of Slo-Mo production and distribution. Anderson suggests they hide while awaiting assistance but Dredd insists they move up the tower and pursue Ma-Ma. Judges Volt and Guthrie respond to Dredd’s call, but Ma-Ma’s computer expert denies them entry by persuading them the security system is malfunctioning. A pair of armed teens confront Dredd and Anderson, allowing Kay to disarm and overpower Anderson. Kay then escapes with her as hostage, and takes her to Ma-Ma’s base on the top floor. While Dredd works his way towards Ma-Ma, she calls in the corrupt Judges Lex, Kaplan, Chan and Alvarez. The four relieve Volt and Guthrie from duty and are allowed into the building. Dredd encounters Chan and is suspicious that he does not ask about Anderson’s status. Seeing his cover blown, Chan attacks Dredd, but is killed. Meanwhile, Kay tries to execute Anderson with her own weapon, but the pistol’s DNA scanner does not recognise him and explodes, taking his arm off. She escapes and later encounters Kaplan, whom she promptly kills after reading Kaplan’s mind. Elsewhere, Dredd kills Alvarez but runs out of ammunition, and is shot by Lex in the abdomen. Lex moves in to execute Dredd, but Dredd stalls him long enough for Anderson to arrive and kill Lex.
Anderson and Dredd obtain the code to Ma-Ma’s apartment from her computer expert and confront her. Ma-Ma tells Dredd that, in the case of her death, a device on her wrist will detonate explosives on the top floors, destroying the building. Dredd reasons that the detonator’s signal will not reach the explosives from the ground floor, so he forces Ma-Ma to inhale Slo-Mo and throws her down the atrium to her death. In the aftermath, Anderson accepts that she has failed her evaluation by getting disarmed, and leaves. The Chief Judge asks Dredd about Anderson’s performance; he responds that she has passed.
Dredd is a good action movie that sticks closely to the source material which makes a nice change for a comic book movie.  You don’t need to have read the comics to understand what’s going on. Also a nice change to mention is that the film goes straight into the plot, there is no hour and a half origin plot followed by 30 min of action. It’s balls to the wall straight to the point.
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REVIEW: JUNO

CAST

Ellen Page (Super)
Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Jason Bateman (The Ex)
Allison Janney (Spy)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Olivia Thirlby (Dredd)
Eileen Pedde (Dar kAngel)
Rainn Wilson (The Office)
Emily Perkins (Ginger Snaps)
Candice King (The Vampire Diaries)
Eve Harlow (Heroes Reborn)
Emily Tennant (I, Robot)

Juno takes a thoughtful spin on an old cliché storyline revolving around unplanned parenthood. After spending a curious night together with her friend Paul Bleeker (Michael Cera, Superbad) in a big comfy chair a few months prior, Juno (Ellen Page, Hard Candy) discovers that she’s in for seven more months of paying for that mistake. Instead of slyly sneaking off to a clinic to change her pregnancy status, she has a change of heart and chooses to go through with the pregnancy. Instead of keeping the kid, however, Juno finds a picturesque, pseudo-surrogate family (Jason Bateman, Arrested Development, and Jennifer Garner, Alias) to adopt her and Bleeker’s child.

Reitman’s film, as sharply characteristic and biting as Thank You for Smoking, takes on the feel of a colorful mosaic as we follow through Juno’s remaining seven months of pregnancy. All the way through, she has plenty of support from her understated and supportive parents (J.K. Simmons, Spider-Man, and Allison Janney, 10 Things I Hate About You) and her loopy cheerleader friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby). Juno leads us through all the mundane occurrences, from ultrasounds to clothing modification, as well as through the more tongue-tied moments with her baby’s family-to-be. There’s a moment when Juno and her father meet with the adopting parents, and their lawyer, that’s priceless. It easily draws out and distinguishes the differences between the characters, both between the two families as well as the individual differences, and similarities, among all parties at the table.


Juno’s a great character narrative with exceedingly well-crafted personalities across the board, but the film’s impact hinges on the gallant performance from Ellen Page. It’s interesting to compare her talents here to her outstanding performance in Hard Candy, a ridiculously tense thriller about a renegade Little Red Riding Hood-esque figure with a penchant for revenge on a child molester. She’s an overwhelmingly talented satirist, especially at her age. Page’s Juno shares some interesting similarities to her Hard Candy character Haley Stark, points that echo through her quality as an actress. She can appear intelligent beyond her character’s years, while also latching firmly onto the age of the character with her mannerisms. Page doesn’t just sell maturity, she sells youthful maturity – meaning she can be both believably naïve and intelligent in the same breath.Ellen Page folds together with Diablo Cody’s wonderfully sharp script, the real star of the show, and crafts one of the most entertaining and touching films of the year. Cody’s pen handles different age groups in different ways, obviously, but she makes certain to keep a very even balance between quirk and sincerity. And, though it teeters along here and there, Juno’s still grin worthy even when it does lean a little over that line of absurdity. Most importantly, Juno’s barrage of one-liners and sarcastic swordfights between its characters can be downright hilarious in context.

It’s not just the scornful preggo hippie chick that gets to have all the fun, either; all of the fleshed characters have scathing humor written into their parts. As a matter of fact, some of the smaller character scenes, from Rainn Wilson’s little ignition of a one-liner to get the film started to Allison Janney’s lengthy reprimand on an ultrasound technician, provide some of the more memorable moments of the film. Where Juno really delivers a shot of believable impact, however, is within the maturing relationships between Juno and the adoptive parents – not as a cohesive unit, but as the individuals themselves. Juno, as a character, molds to each person that she interacts with in the film. As she states earlier in the film, she doesn’t really “know what kind of a girl” she is. Her character clearly grows throughout the film, which can be seen even through her steadfast and bull-headed charisma.


Juno’s a comically melancholy film, yet an attractive one to watch and listen to, as well. Jason Reitman’s directorial eyes and ears were obviously finely tuned during this production. His director of photography, Eric Steelberg, plays a major part in how great this film looks. He uses exaggerated color schemes, such as stark oranges and cold blues, to illustrate seasonal shifts that help pull us through the timeshifts in the narrative. There are a lot of quality details that he captures through his lens that gives Juno’s warm photography a lot of personality. When accompanied with the undertone lyrics from the assortment of indie music laced with Juno’s aesthetics, it keeps the film’s background as rhythmic and upbeat as the darting dialogue.