Film Review: Dredd 3D vs Dark Knight Rises

Today I went to see my first ever 3D movie, Dredd 3D. This is a review of that and the recently release The Dark Knight Rises. I find it interesting to compare two comic-based movies and also one 3D movie against one 2D movie. So here we go…

Well, I enjoyed both of them for starters. Both were quite good adaptations of the characters, both fall down in their adaptions in some respects. Both were quite enjoyable action movies, and I like action movies.

Dredd is living in the shadow of Stallone’s Judge Dredd a movie which many fans found distinctly lacking. Judge Dredd is a character from the 2000AD comic. He has his own strip and has spawned a few off-shoots. He’s popular and has a long history in a detailed world which should be ripe for cinematic adaptation. Neither movie has got it quite right, though the new one is probably closer to the comic than the first was. For starters, Dredd doesn’t take his helmet off, a bone of contention in the first movie. Judge Anderson, a psychic, is the female protagonist in this one; she’s done well and I think most people will enjoy seeing her on screen.

What Dredd lacks is the humour of the original comics. Like a lot of science-fiction, the comics are there to make something of a point about modern society. They are political satire as much as over-the-top sci-fi action. There’s no real humour in Dredd 3D, and that, I think, was a mistake. (Sorry, there was one almost-joke. It was clearly meant to be ironic at the very least.)

Dark Knight Rises is a good movie, well acted, with interesting characters and I enjoyed it, but… This movie is 3 hours long and based on Knightfall, a sequence of Batman comics from which the character of Bane comes. The trouble is that the writers took that story’s basic elements and melded them into the arc they created with the first two recent Batman films. While Bane is much better handled here than in his first cinematic outing, he still does not get the treatment he should have got for a man able to out-think and out-perform The Batman. Three hours is far too long; in my opinion they should have made it two shorter movies and expanded the story. More believable too; Bruce Wayne’s recovery from what Bane does to him is just ridiculous. In the comics it requires “magic,” but the film setting is a non-magic world so instead we get unbelievable.

Now, 3D vs 2D… It was pretty clear to me that 3D is still very much a gimmick. If anything, the 3D tended to detract from the realism of Dredd; long scenes looked manipulated, especially the CGI scenes of the city where flying drones appeared to be in a different visual plane rather than flying over a city. Dark Knight looks just as spectacular, just as realistic, just as emersive, and I didn’t need to watch it through a pair of dumb, plastic glasses. Maybe, when film makers stop treating 3D as the next new thing to make a film special, 3D will have something over 2D. Currently it doesn’t.

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