Dredd” (2012) — the second go at bringing comicdom’s single-minded future cop to the big screen — is tight, simple and brisk. It’s objectively better than Sylvester Stallone’s “Judge Dredd” (1995), particularly in regard to the main character’s portrayal – by Karl Urban this time – but it’s actually a shallower text than the first version. Concerned with action and atmosphere more than police-state critiques, “Dredd” wins the battle of the “Judge Dredd” adaptations entirely with coolness points.
The 2015 masterpiece “Ex Machina” put Alex Garland on my list of must-see auteurs, and the trailers for “Annihilation” – now available on home video – made it look like an amazing follow-up. A shimmering energy field, monsters, moodiness. Instead, it’s a step backward to the smarter-than-thou mindtrip of the Garland-penned “Sunshine” (2007), leaning on a dark soundscape and weird light shows.
“28 Days Later” – This new British horror classic starts with a killer premise — a guy wakes up in a hospital to discover he’s (seemingly) the last man on Earth. It eventually turns into a creepy, gritty, and often disgusting zombie flick. The last act is silly, but the post-credits “what if?” segment makes up for it.
– John Hansen, Brainerd Dispatch, Dec. 31, 2003
“Ex Machina” could be a stage play, as it features four actors in various austere rooms of an isolated scientific compound. Writer Alex Garland, who also penned the excellent zombie film “28 Days Later” (2002) and the love-it-or-hate-it sci-fi think piece “Sunshine” (2007), contrasts those films by keeping “Ex Machina” minimalist in his directorial debut.