I took the plunge and saw Dredd 3D on a theater this weekend. I know there’s already a great review by Tony Guerrero on Comicvine. I just wanted to give my own review and try to touch on a couple of points.
Karl Urban plays – actually he plays it so close to the character that I would rather say he becomes – Judge Dredd. He’s tough, he’s bold, he doesn’t care if the world is going to hell in a handbasket, nobody infringes the Law. The entire rest of the world seems not to care, and with reason. The despair, the dirt and the grime is everywhere in this movie.
We are treated to a futuristic version of an overpopulated slum tower. Even the name rings true: Peach Trees is really the kind of name any slum like this one will have. Dredd and his fellow judges are dressed in riot gear. Their uniforms are not clean. They’re dirty, worn out, the judges’ badge does not shine like gold. This is not episode one, folks. Everything is dirty because it should be dirty.
The judges’ sidearm, the Lawgiver makes an appearance here in all it’s variable-caliber multi-specialty-ammunition glory. Cool detail is that we never get an explanation on how it works – Dredd fans won’t need one. It’s a very nice detail, specially in one scene where a perp picks one… we all know what happens next… and no unnecessary explanations are given.
Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) is actually a canon character as well as her psychic skill, which is what grants her the assessment of Dredd although her scores are marginally below a passing grade. Immediately, we do establish that everyone is the world of Mega City One is violent and dirty. Anderson may be the only exception to that rule, but she does go through some heavy stuff during the story. No romance. That was a good touch. Although Olivia Thirlby is nice to look at, she’s not window dressing and she actually takes care of herself which was a great change of pace from the regular damsel-in-distress scenario that almost seems about to go down at one point.
As a matter of fact, it slowly dawned on me that the other person who’s not completely lost sight of hope is Dredd himself. Beneath his helmet (which he never takes off) he actually believes and breathes the Law.
The other highlight of the movie, and very much the one that grants the gratuitous use of 3D is the drug manufactured by the gang, Slo-Mo, which slows the brain to perceive that time is going by at 1% of its regular speed. Makes for some incredible shots – and some incredible shooting as well. This movie does not hold back on the violence and gore.
The plot, as it has been established by other sites, draws a lot of comparisons to The Raid. The main characters, Dredd (Karl Urban) and Anderson are isolated from any backup when they are trapped inside the huge building by the head of the gang, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey aka Cersei Lannister from A Game Of Thrones). I haven’t seen the other film. I think the plot is not uncommon and serves well to portray the character. I’m just going to judge (oh come on, let me get away with at least one pun!) this movie on its own.
For me this movie felt more like the pilot or a very special lengthy episode of an ongoing series. Yes, it’s a bit out of place – we don’t get action movies like this one anymore. It doesn’t work all the time. Dredd’s rough voice does draw parallels to Christian Bale’s Batman, but Karl doesn’t over do it. The puns are kept to a minimal, but sometimes do tend to date the character somewhat. Although it wouldn’t be a Dredd movie without him saying, “I am the Law.”
I would recommend this movie highly to any Judge Dredd fan, or at least a comic book fan that has a notion of the character. If you’ve never heard of the character, this might be an acquired taste. If you have, rest assured that the director, Pete Travis, has finally done what certain 1995 movie failed to do by several miles: he’s made a movie that does Dredd justice.
That will do for now.