I can’t bring myself to be too sorry that the makers of Dredd were compelled by circumstances to create a comicbook movie that was mostly movie and hardly any comicbook. For one thing Alex Garland dealt with his hassles by glancing back in the general direction of John Carpenter and Richard Stanley, justifying his paycheck more or less on the spot. For another it meant that Dredd would not land on either of the year’s twin superhero trap doors: Christopher Nolan’s three-hour three-ton opus from the Remote Control anvil chorus; and Joss Whedon’s green-screen counter-culture Apple Mac guitar-band. It looks like the Dredd franchise is going to fly, so some mission creep may be involved next time. Lena Headey presumably won’t be, having enjoyed a majestic check-out from this one which I would have loved to describe in a review for Critic’s Notebook, but didn’t. Luckily there was plenty left to say about her: The bit when she faces into the camera and smirks like a cross between Madame Hydra and Madame Bathory was roughly as startling as the cowboy firing at the audience in 1903.
Joe Wright’s new version of Anna Karenina is also a departure, and a thought experiment, and a fairly emphatic way to jump up and down on the novel’s realist tendencies. But in exchange for that friction it looks gorgeous, shot and costumed to within an inch of its life, and builds up a substantial dose of what you might call glittering pessimism. A review attempting to say why is also on Critic’s Notebook.