So I recently caught the Judge Dredd movie and it was about six hundred forty seven thousand times better than the original Judge Dredd movie done with Stallone all those years ago.
It’s a very simple story at its heart. In a dystopian, crime-filled future, the Judges are all that stand between all-out chaos and a semblance of order.
The main character, Judge Dredd is tasked with the assessment of a new Judge, and on that day, they end up in a mega-block called Peach Trees ruled by the sadistic drug lord (drug lady?), Ma-Ma.
When the building is locked down, they become embroiled in a desperate struggle to survive.
When I got home later that night, I did what I usually do after seeing a movie. I hopped online and browsed through a few reviews.
The reason I do this is pretty simple.
I want to know if other people felt the same way I did about various aspects of the movie. I also want to know if there were maybe things I missed that other people caught.
The reviews…were about what I expected. Most praised it for being a decent watch with good pacing and functional characters.
Others…well, here’s where things get interesting.
Some other reviewers blasted the movie, saying that it was nothing but a series of contrived meetings between the good guys and the bad guys so they could have some sort of shootout.
Umm…have you SEEN the trailer to the movie? What part of that screams out character depth and subtle plot development to you?
The people who made this movie knew exactly what sort of story they were trying to tell and they knew just how to do it.
Dredd is a straight action movie where the good guys are good guys, the bad guys are bad guys, and buildings are buildings.
See, what confuses me about the negative reviews is that nothing about the premise or the trailer really tries to pretend that this movie will be something other than it is.
If they showed me a trailer like the one for Cloud Atlas and then gave me Judge Dredd instead, I could understand the disappointment and the feeling of being let down.
The point I’m trying to make in a very (VERY) roundabout way is that sometimes, it’s perfectly okay to NOT reach for the stars. It’s important to know the limits of your material so that you don’t stretch it to the point of breaking.
Not every story needs a far-reaching plot full of intrigue and twists and turns. Not all good guys need to have a tragic past with a fatal flaw that they overcome just in time to emerge triumphant at the end of the tale. Not all bad guys need a note of sympathy to play their part in the story.
Some stories are small in scope and it’s a perfectly wonderful thing to be.
I’d far rather experience a focused and tightly paced small story instead of one that tries so hard to be something far-reaching and consequential that it just ends up buckling under the weight of its own expectations.