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January 15, 2013

Kicks! Quick reviews of movies and music

Available now on Blu-ray and DVD


•  Available now on Blu-ray and DVD

Fans of Judge Dredd now have a cinematic adaptation that will completely erase Sylvester Stallone’s ill-advised take on the comic book character.

“Dredd,” now available on DVD and Blu-ray, dispenses with all the hokiness and campy humor of the 1995 film and replaced it with a dark, gritty adaptation that owes a lot of its visual cues to “Blade Runner.”

The Earth is a barren wasteland and the population lives in vast, sprawling urban prisons called mega cities. It’s in Mega City 1 where the action takes place, a crime-ridden metropolis where law and order is upheld by the judges, who act as judge, jury and executioner.

In this simple tale, a comic book adaptation crossed with “Training Day,” the legendary Judge Dredd is breaking in a rookie partner, who just happens to be a psychic. On this, her first day, the two wind up prisoners of Peach Trees, a 200-floor high rise ruled by the sadistic drug lord MaMa.

MaMa uses Peach Trees as her base of operation to manufacture SLO-MO, a drug that does exactly what its name implies; it makes the brain think everything is happening at just a fraction of its regular speed.

With the judges trapped inside, MaMa declares an all-out assault on the two law enforcers, with the high rise’s inhabitants caught in the crossfire.

Those who don’t like their movies gory and violent are advised to stay away. For everyone with a strong stomach, they’ll find a film that’s an effective action thriller, complete with fine performances and impressive special effects.

Karl Urban, who is most well known these days as “Bones” McCoy in J.J. Abrams’ updated “Star Trek” series, is a perfect Judge Dredd. When he says “I am the law,” you never doubt him for a second.

Brad Dickerson,

JT is back

The last time Justin Timberlake put out an album was 2006. The electro-R&B singer made suavely ludicrous promises to bring “sexy back” to pop charts that had apparently been neglecting such.

Seven years and a “Social Network” later, Timberlake is back, and we’re pleased to report that the results are quite sexy. “Suit & Tie” is a radiant, ramshackle song that’s less of a coherent single and more of a coronation event. It grafts at least three different Timberlake settings – the slow-rolling futurist, crisp-collared soul man and backseat driver to a rap kingpin (here, Jay-Z) – into one strange track that comes off like a best-man wedding toast. It’s rambling and full of awkward transitions; yet occasionally finds its feet and ultimately heralds a joyful event: Justin Timberlake making music again.

Produced by longtime sideman Timbaland and J-Roc, the tune’s opening movement dices some luminous ‘70s sounds (horns, harps) into a loping half-time beat. It’s all throat clearing, and Timberlake doesn’t do much beyond announcing his upmarket sartorial tastes and intentions to “show you a few things.”

But that’s a goal he promptly delivers in the song’s second and best section, a sashay through Philly soul and early disco reimagined as a sci-fi debutante ball. How have we survived these seven long years without Timberlake’s falsetto toeing that line between sweet and lascivious and the dance floor? With a bit of editing and extended-mixing, this marimba-driven section of “Suit & Tie” would be out of the gate as 2013’s song of the year so far. That is, until Timberlake pulls the e-brake and changes it yet again.

It’s rare that a Jay-Z cameo throws a song off its game, but “Suit & Tie’s” conclusion comes so abruptly, and after such pleasure before it, that Hova would have to be on some “Blueprint”-level fire to keep up the pace. Instead, he’s riffing on the current high-dining “truffle season” that makes him sound like rap’s Graydon Carter. The beat beneath it is moody and spacious on its own, but it so thoroughly breaks the song’s spell that not even Jay can recover the glow.

“FutureSex/LoveSounds” used a similar smash-mix tactic in sequencing its tunes, but Timberlake’s presence was so strong that it carried the album. So let’s hope that the centerpiece vibe of “Suit & Tie” is the heartbeat of the forthcoming album “The 20/20 Experience.” If it is, then let’s break out some truffles.

August Brown, Los Angeles Times

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