Don't dread Dredd 

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Life and art are all about balance. Good and evil, yin and yang, utopia and dystopia.

This week let's stick with dystopia because that makes way better movies. Dystopia basically means a future as bad as you can imagine — the molten centre of the steaming crap heap where all the worst bits of the human psyche flourish and gorge themselves like mosquitos at a nudist retreat situated next to a swamp.

Dystopia, while probably incredibly sucky to actually endure, is very dramatic to watch and pops up in everything from The Hunger Games to Mad Max to I am Legend. We get another taste this Friday when Dredd opens at the good old Village 8 Cinemas.

Based on a comic book (and adapted much better than Judge Dredd, the campy 1995 Sly Stallone flick) Dredd is a 90-minute shoot-em-splat-em-knock-em-down sci-fi actioner starring Karl Urban (Star Trek, Lord of the Rings) as an anointed judge-jury-executioner lawman sent into Mega City One, a vast, drug-addicted wasteland city of 800 million souls. Olivia Thirby (The Wackness) plays the soft new-recruit with a radiant psychic gift and together the two of them (plus one apprehended felon) get locked inside a 200-floor stronghold held by Ma-Ma, an evil drug kingpin who has nearly all the denizens of this hell on earth strung out on a drug called Slo-Mo (it makes everything look like it's happening so slowly the hellish world becomes beautiful).

Dredd's one-liners are a bit lacking and it's certainly derivative of everything from Dirty Harry to Robocop to Die Hard and more, but Dredd is also a relief in its honest simplicity. It's a comic adaptation, it's not here to reinvent the wheel, and instead drives forward and upward. It's well acted, looks awesome and is chock full of gore, violence and bullets going through peoples' heads at thousands of frames per second. There is no 3D in Whistler but word on the street is this one is just as much fun in 2D. See it.

Speaking of Dirt Harry, Clint Eastwood stars in a baseball flick that swings onto screens this Friday. Trouble with the Curve looks sappy as all bejeezus but you can tell it's Oscar bait because it's directed by longtime Eastwood producer Robert Lorenz (Mystic River, Gran Torino), and the casting is near-homerun.

And it's a baseball movie, about an ancient scout (Eastwood) who gets one last chance to prove he's worth something when his estranged daughter (Amy Adams) joins him for the last big scouting trip of his career. Along the way Justin Timberlake (Alpha Dog) skinny dips with his underwear on and Matthew Lillard (Scream) plays the doubting prick corporate guy from the ball team.

So formulaic you almost want to cram it into a baby bottle, what elevates Trouble with the Curve above the rest of the old-fashioned drool out there is the chemistry between Amy Adams and Eastwood. Old Clint has been acting a bit crazy lately (his "imaginary chair" political speech killed his Oscar chances) but there's no denying he's an American treasure and Adams not only holds her own, she holds the whole picture up.

It's an hour and fifty minutes of melodrama hung on the world's slowest moving "sport" but Trouble with the Curve has a few laughs as well. Good for grey-hairs, religious folk and people who remember black and white TVs.

House at the End of the Street also opens. A haunted house flick starring Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games) and Elizabeth Shue (Piranha) and it looks awesome.


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