2012 Movie Mini-Reviews: Dredd, Seven Psychopaths, The Paperboy

I was able to indulge in a movie marathon of sorts over the weekend, catching up another few films that I missed out on last year. Here are some quick reviews for all three:

Dredd [2012]
Dredd [dir. Pete Travis]
I always know I have come across a great comic book film when it has made me want to read some of the comics afterward. The only other franchise that has made me want to do so is Batman, namely Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Now I can say the same for Dredd, a gritty action film that surprised the hell out of me.

Dredd feels like a throwback to the old school, ultra-violent 80s action movies, but in a setting not unlike last year’s kinetic Indonesian film, The Raid. Karl Urban stars as the eponymous character, a badass police officer who acts as a judge, jury and executioner. He is partnered up with a rookie, Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), who is a mutant with psychic abilities. When the two of them are sent to investigate a triple homicide, they are locked into a 200-story slum tower block by the evil drug lord “Ma-Ma” (Lena Headey, completely unrecognizable from her even more sinister role as Cersei in Game of Thrones). Now, rather than capture a suspect and leave, the officers must fight for their lives to escape.

In terms of plot, Dredd is remarkably simple, but there is enough style to draw you in and not let go. This is a dark, brutal film that never really lets its foot off the pedal. Some of the visual effects — such as an overabundance of slow motion techniques — seem to have been created for 3D and therefore fall flat on DVD, but these are just small issues in what is otherwise a very enjoyable action flick. 8/10

Seven Psychopaths [2012]
Seven Psychopaths [dir. Martin McDonagh]
Seven Psychopaths is the second collaboration between director/writer Martin McDonagh and Colin Farrell (the first being 2008’s critically-acclaimed In Bruges), and it doesn’t miss a beat. Farrell stars as Marty Faranan, a struggling screenwriter who gets tangled up in a ridiculous series of events when his best friend (Sam Rockwell) steals the Shih Tzu of an explosively-tempered gangster (Woody Harrelson). Like In Bruges, the writing is extremely clever and loaded with biting dark comedy and Tarantino-esque violence. Occasionally a joke will fall flat, but then another will pop up shortly after that will bring out the major laughs.

The cast here is incredible, with some noteworthy supporting roles from Christopher Walken (in his best performance in years), Tom Waits and Harry Dean Stanton. There’s even an amusing wink at Boardwalk Empire during the film’s opening scene, as it involves cameos from two of my favorite actors from the show: Michael Pitt and Michael Stuhlbarg. The real star here, however, is Sam Rockwell, who is an absolute riot for most of the film. His monologue in the desert is hilarious, and it is one of the best scenes I have come across this year. Seven Psychopaths may be too spastic for some, but I had a great time with the film. 8/10

The Paperboy [2012]
The Paperboy [dir. Lee Daniels]
The Paperboy is a hot mess of a film, one that revels in its trashy Southern Gothic atmosphere. The film follows two brothers, Ward (Matthew McConaughey) and Jack Jensen (Zac Efron), who are investigating a death row inmate (John Cusack) that they believe may be innocent. Or rather, Ward is looking to get a story out of this that he can write for the Herald. He doesn’t really care if the man is innocent or not. They become involved with Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), a middle-aged woman who has fallen in love with the inmate despite never meeting him.

There are many different subplots at play in The Paperboy, and as such the film never really knows where it wants to go. Occasionally there are random moments of incredibly bizarre actions — there is a certain scene involving jellyfish that everyone seems to talk about — and director Lee Daniels often appears to just throw a bunch of stuff against the wall to see if it sticks. The lack of proper direction is frustrating, but there is still an entertaining film underneath (albeit a rather filthy one). If there’s one thing the film nails, it is its visual appeal. The washed-out color tones are a perfect fit for the sticky Floridian setting. The Paperboy is all over the place, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this gather somewhat of a cult following someday. 6/10

Have you seen any of these? What did you think of them?

29 thoughts on “2012 Movie Mini-Reviews: Dredd, Seven Psychopaths, The Paperboy

  1. Fogs' Movie Reviews says:

    Its hard not to compare Dredd to The Raid, isnt it? The similarities are undeniable. Fun flick though, I enjoyed it. It surprised me.

    I loved Seven Psycopaths, I thought that one was great. I’m probably more at like a nine. Walken was great, Rockwell was great, I had a blast with that movie.

    The Paperboy WAS a hot mess though. LOL. You got that right. πŸ˜‰

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Yeah, as soon as they arrived at that slum tower, I immediately thought of The Raid. That would be a fun double bill, actually. Two badass action flicks.

      As for The Paperboy, well, it’s certainly a film I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. So it’s got that going for it. πŸ™‚

  2. The Heretic says:

    Dredd kicked ass! I have the comic that the film is based on.

    Seven Psychopaths turned out way better than I expected. I loved Christopher Walken’s character, especially at the end.

  3. greghorrorshow says:

    Glad you liked Dredd, I’m yet to see it but was undecided as to whether to bother – will check it out at some stage. I saw Seven Psychopaths and thought it was great. Sam Rockwell continues to impress me!

  4. sati says:

    I really enjoyed Paperboy and Dredd but Seven Psychopaths was real mess for me – I could see what they wanted to do but for me they totally failed as the film wasn’t smart nor funny and I was really bored, shame because the cast was wonderful and they deserved better.

  5. Bonjour Tristesse says:

    Have yet to see Dredd, but everyone seems to enjoy it so I may give it a chance.

    Seven Psychopaths didn’t work for me. Felt like it was trying too hard to be cute and clever.

    The Paperboy I found strangely awful but still worth the watch.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Hey BT, always great to have you drop by! Dredd is worth a shot, especially if you have seen/enjoyed The Raid. It shares a lot of similarities, and both are great action flicks.

      I can see where you’re coming from about Seven Psychopaths. Some jokes did seem a little forced, but for the most part they worked for me. I think the film really benefited from its excellent cast, too.

  6. ruth says:

    I miss this post somehow. Glad you enjoyed Dredd too. I covered my eyes a lot watching it as it’s sooo violent, but overall it was enjoyable.

  7. The Blog of Big Ideas says:

    I haven’t seen any of the three but I’m looking forward to covering Seven Psychopaths and Dredd soon due to your glowing reviews.
    I don’t think I’ll be watching Paperboy due to the lackluster reviews. I can’t remember the last time I saw a good film starring Nicole Kidman.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      I think The Paperboy is still worth a watch if you’re ever in the mood for a wild trainwreck of a film. Nicole Kidman is pretty entertaining in it, although some of her actions makes me wonder why the hell she accepted the role.

      Hope you enjoy Seven Psychopaths and Dredd as much as I did!

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